travel

Taiwan Nov 2013 Day 3 and 4 – Yanmingshan – Dan Shui – Shifen – Jiufen – Taipei

Boys pointing to the name of the place where we were at. I can't even make out what it is now,
Boys pointing to the name of the place where we were at. I can’t even make out what it is now,

As it often does in Taiwan, it was drizzling the day we attempted to visit Yanmingshan, which was a complete waste of time because visibility was about 1km at best. Then the driver led us to hike up wet stone steps to a vantage point. As if the view there was going to be any better FURTHER UP. 5 minutes into the hike I asked how much further it was going to be, and couldn’t help but exclaim “有没有搞错?!” when he said it’d be like another 20 minutes. I was carrying a baby, for goodness sake! I was happily willing to proceed down myself but everyone thought that it would be a futile effort and joined me.

Later the driver said that the Taiwanese “觉得好玩” to visit the mountains in such weather conditions. Do the Taiwanese bring their babies and toddlers up to 玩玩 in these conditions too ha? Both my SIL and I both felt that the youngest age to have attempted this activity would be a 5 YO with good motor skills.

Cue next destination. Actually the agent had suggested going to Beitou to a public hot spring, but we have stayed in a hot springs “resort” before, so we sure weren’t keen on a public one. Google image Beitou hot springs and you’re likely to see photos where you are probably going to see more people than the hot springs. Anyway what would the kids and baby do at the hot springs? So Beitou was crossed off the list.

I'm not sure why he was so excited about the mushroom rocks, but I was happy that he was at least interested in them. (Yes, Mushroom Rocks is their official name.)
I’m not sure why he was so excited about the mushroom rocks, but I was happy that he was at least interested in them. (Yes, Mushroom Rocks is their official name.)

Our next stop was Yehliu Geopark, and I’m a nerd in that really enjoyed all the various rock formations on Jeju, so I quite liked Yeliu. Except I’m a little troubled that everyone gets to walk among and touch rock formations such as the mushroom rocks – with the number of tourists there every day, isn’t there the threat of erosion?? Anyway it was still raining so I asked the rest to go on without me and took Scout to the sheltered area. The Yeliu Geological Park is actually next to an aquarium which looks like it hasn’t been maintained much since the 70s, if you’re keen on a little bit of nostalgia. On a nice day you can probably bring your pram to most of this Geopark.

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Dumpling place that should be pretty famous since we saw other Singaporeans also making a stop there before going to Danshui.

Next we proceeded to Dan Shui, stopping by a famous rice dumpling establishment. It was ok lah, but I still prefer our type of nonya zhang.

There probably is a story behind this bridge but I have no clue what it is.
There probably is a story behind this bridge but I have no clue what it is.

You might have read that the Lover’s Bridge is nothing fancy and that’s true. But we really enjoyed sitting and listening to a busker singing and the kids had lots of space to run around (before it started raining again).

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At a Danshui restaurant.

Feeling recharged after some down time, we headed to the old street for dinner and walked around after, trying to find the famous eating spots. We tried the famous 可口 fish balls, but I prefer our type of springy fish balls, whereas the Taiwanese ones are more dense, so I thought they were ok. The old street looks like just another part of Taipei to me, but maybe we weren’t looking in the right places, and of course our driver was of absolutely NO help at all. It was getting late and we still had to head to Taipei for the night, so we left Danshui.

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Ok lah, the viewpoint of the waterfalls has a very quaint stone area with a little Starbucks. Kidding, it does have a cute local coffee joint.

The next day it was still raining and we made the mistake of going to Shifen by van. It was an arduous ride and although the waterfall is pretty amazing, it’s not spectacular. As I mentioned previously, I really think that the way to go is by train, because it negates the motion sickness and goes right to the door step of the waterfalls (so it’s not like you still have to take a shuttle bus or something), and kids can move around on trains whereas on vans they have to be buckled in. The waterfalls were just not worth the torture getting there.

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What a lovely day. If you’re the sort who likes it drizzling ALL.THE.TIME.

Next we headed to release a sky lantern. Now, after recently reading so much about marine life, I decided to refuse to partake in this activity, because although the materials might be biodegradable, it’s highly likely that we’re still releasing trash into the sky and Pacific Ocean. Or, don’t the lanterns burn houses? Trees? Or maybe they’re not a hazard since it’s raining all the time? It was a fun experience (for those without a conscience, hee!) and the boys had fun painting the lanterns. I might try Mittens on some calligraphy classes!

The best part of Shifen were these deep fried octopus from a little mobile stall just along the tracks. YUMMY!!
The best part of Shifen were these deep fried octopus from a little mobile stall just along the tracks. YUMMY!!

After Shifen was another winding trip to Jiufen. It was raining even harder but thank goodness Scout slept all the time we were in Jiufen so I could keep her well and dry in the Ergo under a raincoat.

Of all the destinations we went to, I wouldn’t mind returning to Jiufen. It’s certainly a town with character, and I wish we had time to sit at one of the tea houses to enjoy the view and some warm tea. We enjoyed the food here the most.We had fish ball noodles, beef noodles, taro ball desserts, ice cream popiah, and a lovely prawn kind of croquette (I could’ve eaten these the whole day long) from the very first stall on the left. If you’re intending to head to the area please go to Jiufen!

We stayed at East Dragon Hotel in Taipei which is a little 3-star establishment in a great central location that has family rooms with 2 double beds in each room. It’s generally clean (although the carpeting is questionable) and the staff are very friendly. I don’t think I’ll stay here again though, because I don’t really need to be right smack in Xinmending, and I would have really liked a washing machine. It’s no fun dragging along an entire wardrobe for a family of 5 for 6 days!

I know it might sound like I have a lot of complaints, and I know that many experiences are sometimes what really makes the journey interesting. With the trip fresh in my mind I guess I’m still kicking myself for not having it together better, but I guess the time together as a family was fun despite the downfalls. And I guess that’s what’s important for family trips, isn’t it? 🙂

Please see my other posts on:

1. 5 things I learnt from my trip to Taiwan
2. Day 1 and 2: Taoyuan – Flying Cow Ranch
3. Day 5 and 6 – Taipei 101, Da’an,

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4 thoughts on “Taiwan Nov 2013 Day 3 and 4 – Yanmingshan – Dan Shui – Shifen – Jiufen – Taipei

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