Cities, temples, night markets, nature, gorges, mountains
When you travel to Taiwan, your senses are sure to come into your own. You will enjoy this country with your eyes (beautiful mountains, temples, night markets, museums), ears (monotonous prayers in Buddhist temples, bustle of markets), smell (especially „fragrant“ tofu in the markets) and last but not least taste buds while exploring the incredibly diverse area. kitchen.
Market street in downtown Taipei early in the morning.
After a flight with Qatar Airways from Prague via Doha and Hong Kong, from where we continued with Hong Kong Airlines to Taipei, we soon found ourselves on this alley in the city center, where we had secured accommodation. The location is ideal because it is located in the center and is close to the subway and the main station, from where high-speed trains run.
On the first day in the morning we went to the botanical garden.
Pavilion for accommodation of diplomats in the botanical garden.
In addition to the varied flora, the visitor will also encounter history in the botanical garden. This is the pavilion where the diplomats who came to the local royal court used to stay.
Day 1 in Taipei
A trip to the cultural attractions of the city.
The first day after arrival (two hours after midnight), accommodation and a short sleep, we set off in the morning to see the local sights. We don't have time to waste, the time in seven days to visit the places we have planned in Taiwan is quite tense. Our accommodation in the city center has the advantage that we can comfortably walk to my (and other tourists and local believers) favorite Lungshan Temple. And from here again on foot (but of course it is also by public transport buses or subway) we came through an oasis of calm in the botanical garden to Chiang Kai-shek's mausoleum. The large complex also includes the National Theater and the National Concert Hall. Directly in the mausoleum, which is dominated by a life-size statue of Chiang Kai-shek, it is possible to watch an attractive ceremony of changing the honor guard. And because we don't have enough yet, we take the subway to the TAIPEI 101 skyscraper, which at the time of its completion in 2005 was the tallest skyscraper in the world. Today, however, we will not go to the observation deck, the weather is bad.
Day 2 in Taipei.
Beitou and Yangminshan National Park.
The next morning we took the subway to the final station in Beitou (must change), a town with hot springs and a way out to Yangminshan National Park, where you can either walk or take local public transport. It is possible to walk around the national park for days, we chose the Thermal Valley in Beitou and the Sulfur Valley in the national park. The Thermal Valley is already very attractive when steam rises from really hot water (don't reach, burns, has over 60 ° C) and creates an interesting atmosphere ..... and an ideal place for making selfies. To Walk to Sulfur Valley, we walk through Beitou and out of town on local roads with the help of sparse signs and local people. Along the way, the local museum passes, which calls for a visit, but first we want to visit the Sulfur Valley, then on the way back. As usual, there was no visit, because we went back to Beitou and went completely differently … Sulfur Valley is an active seismic valley, from which in many places escapes steam, bubbling boiling water and the whole is colored yellow from sulfur , as the name of the valley suggests. On the way to the valley, we also met giant, ten-centimeter spiders, which frightened mainly one of my sons, who of them has a phobia. But at least he alerted us to them, and we then spent a few minutes taking pictures of them. After exploring the valley, we found that the weather was nice, so it is worth going to the view from the Tiaomi Historic Trail on TAIPEI 101 in the evening with a view of the sunset over Taipei. That's why we got on the local bus, which took us back to Beitou in a few minutes. Here we managed to eat and sit with the locals in the pool with thermal springs and hot natural water. And then take the subway across the city to TAIPEI 101, walking steeply with many people up the stairs to the rainforest above the city, where there are many places where you can watch the sunset, TAIPEI 101 and the lit city below you. The best thing to do is to go a little further into the forest and higher up the hill, where you can find places with fewer people and from where you will also see something in the finals, so that you are not bothered by crowds of people with mobile phones. There are queues for some well-known viewpoints so that you can take pictures here. The views from here to the sunset and the city that lights up below you are worth the effort to climb here. Especially in summer, expect to be durch before coming here. The trails are illuminated at night, but it may still be good to bring a headlamp if you stay into the night. We got back to the hotel comfortably by subway.
3rd and last day in Taipei.
Dadaocheng and TAIPEI 101.
We decided to spend our last day in the capital of Taiwan in a place we had never been in before, and that was the Dadaocheng (Datong District). During my previous stays in Taipei, it was a ruthless-looking part of the city where there was nothing and therefore there was no reason to come here. This time, however, we learned that this place has received the attention of the city government, which is revitalizing it and making it another tourist attraction of the city. And rightly so. This area, located on the banks of the Tamshui River, used to be a merchant's district with merchant houses, transhipments, boat moorings and warehouses, and merchant houses. These are now being reconstructed, but they have not become mere dead museums, but life in the form of residential houses continues in them (you can look into some of the typical narrow merchant houses for free or for a small fee and the owner will guide you and show everything interesting) original shops or „canteens“. Museums, and interesting ones, focusing on bringing the local former life closer to visitors, are worth a visit. We were in a museum, from the terrace of which it is possible to overlook the local merchant street Dihua. But the neighborhood also lives culturally and religiously. We wanted to see the local Lee Cungsheng Memorial Christ Presbiterian Church. But it was full of people, so we didn't dare much. However, our indecision was noticed by the visitors of the church and we were right inside. It was explained to us that a wedding was celebrated here, which took place yesterday. And of the many desserts left for us, we had to taste, it would be rude to refuse. Nice walks along the Tamshui River also offer nice walks. A tour of this, as well as other areas of Taipei, will be made much easier and more enjoyable by information books and maps, which are available free of charge at tourist information throughout the city. But time is running out again, the weather promises a great view, so for the third time we are going to TAIPEI 101, this time really up. And it paid off. The views from that height are great. From Yangminshan National Park, the city center with a visible building of the capital. railway station and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Tower to the place of last night's viewpoint can be seen everything. Inside, there is a very interesting view of a huge weight, which in the local seismic area balances possible fluctuations of the building caused by an earthquake or typhoon. In addition, everything is technically explained here, so that even a layman will understand the way it actually works. And from TAIPEI 101 we just hurry to the hotel to pick up our backpacks and cheers to the main station on the high speed train (THSR) to Taichung.
Taichung, a million-dollar city in central Taiwan
To the surroundings of Taichung behind the hot springs in Guguan Hot Springs.
The high-speed train journey from Taipei to Taichung takes a while. When the train stops only in Banqiao, the journey to the center of the island takes 50 minutes, if the train has 4 stops, you are in Taichung in 1 hour 5 minutes !!! So you don't really enjoy it. And yet it's so comfortable and luxurious … So we're still in Taichung in the light. But the THSR station is not in the city center, but on its outskirts. However, you will be reliably transported to the city by a shuttle bus or a „normal“ railway. This is what we used. In Taichung itself, however, a surprise awaited us when we got off at the fungl of the new station, which was not even a hint here a few years ago! The old station building is preserved under a new line that leads to the viaducts. Our pre-booked hotel The Enterpriser is a five minute walk from the station, so we first checked in and went to a nearby car rental company to check if our car reservation for tomorrow works. And in the evening we went to the night market, where we again fell for gourmet feasts in street stalls. By the way, The Enterpriser is great, luxurious … and terribly cheap due to the quality. We still don't understand it today, it was strange to us throughout our stay and we waited where something would „jump out“ for us. But nothing jumped out, everything was fine. Only breakfast was typically Chinese and it may not suit everyone. We picked up the car in the morning and drove along the Central Cross Island Highway to the town of Guguan, which lies between the first higher hills of the central mountains and boasts hot springs, which you can enjoy in several local resorts, of which I can recommend Four Seasons on the other bank of the river, which flows through the Guguan, which creates a deeply cut valley and carries away entire houses, for example, which we witnessed a few years ago. In the Four Seasons, there are pools on wooden and roof-covered terraces with variously warm water from 40+ degrees to ice pools for the hardy. We spent most of the day here and returned to Taichung in the dark. Navigating the local side roads is not entirely easy, but with a map in Chinese, a little knowledge from the past and possibly asking questions, it's manageable.
Day 5 and 6 in Taiwan.
Road to Li-shan and NP Taroko.
At the very beginning, it was clear to us that the journey to the east coast through the mountains and the Taroko gorge would be quite tense for two days. In addition, we expected a trip to Li-shan on a side mountain road, which was quite adventurous ten years ago. On the way to the city of Pu-li, along the road shown by our 10-year-old car atlas in Taiwan, which I once drove several times, bridges suddenly began to appear above our heads with a road that crossed the valley here and there. What is it? The map did not show anything like that … Later we found out that it is a new, several tens of kilometers long highway No. 6, which is created just south of Taichung and leads to Pula, where it is possible to enter it from the original road. So we only used it on the way back and it helped a lot when we didn't make it to the car rental on time. On the way to the mountains, however, driving on the old road had two advantages. Firstly, the road was almost empty due to the highway (in contrast to the situation years ago, when it was almost a permanent traffic jam. And secondly, when we stabbed in front of Pu-li and did not find a jack in the car (it was under the driver's seat), a local maintenance car , which checked the barriers, helped us and we had the bike replaced without work, and in Pu we also solved the tire repair, when we stopped at the tourist office, which peeked out at the road and where a surprised employee goggled the nearest tire service. At two corners, they repaired and replaced a flat tire in a few minutes for a couple of NTDs in a tire service, and we were able to go to the mountains. exchanged for No. 89 and drove into the mountains.Great experience, incredible views and even more incredible alpine, hard-to-reach, villages.And one of them, in Hou-shan (Hongxiang), as usual, hot springs. olika pools, at the end of the village behind the bridge over the river, freely accessible, no foot. Different hot water in different pools, fantasy. From there, return to Highway 89 and direction Li-shan. We arrived there in the evening and started looking for accommodation. It's expensive here, but after several attempts we managed to find an affordable hotel. The level was not much, but to be very good. Even dinner at a local restaurant. How else, right? The next day, after a morning tour of Li-shan and breathtaking views of the surrounding 3,000-meter peaks and breakfast on the terrace in front of Family Mart, we drove through Dayuling at the junction of roads 8 and 14 in the direction of Taroko. The Taroko Gorge and the entire local NP of the same name is a fantastic affair and a „must see“ area in Taiwan. From an altitude of 2565 m in Dayuling, with countless serpentines across various climatic zones, it descends to the sea at Hualien, the regional center. The road is under permanent maintenance, because due to heavy rains, it is still slipping somewhere, rocks are falling, and bridges are collapsing. We encountered a problem just above the Taroko Gorge itself, where the road opened for traffic for only 15 minutes every hour for cars to leave, and for the rest of the time climbers worked on the rock above the road to rehabilitate the rock. This wait eventually contributed to the fact that we unfortunately did not reach the beautiful, rocky and wild east coast, but for time reasons we had to turn under Tarok and start returning to Taichung, where we had to drop off our car by eight. The pedestrian tour of the gorge was also partially under reconstruction at the time of the visit (November 2018), so we just saw it. A beautiful canyon, marble cliffs and thousands of nesting swallows are an experience. On the route, we also stopped in Tien-siang and a local temple with a pagoda high above the Li-wu river valley. We made our way back again through Dayuling (there is no other way) and the highest point on the way in Hohuan Shan Pass at an altitude of 3275 m. We were caught here in the fog, so we didn't see anything, but I know that the views here are great. Even with the help of the new highway, we reached the car rental in Taichung just in time. And before midnight, after dinner at the local shopping center, we have a luxury VIP bus to the airport, from where we will move to our next destination, Hong Kong. .
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
The National Theater and the concert hall are also located in a large area with a mausoleum. In the mausoleum it is possible to watch the changing of the guards.
Believers praying at Lungshan Temple.
Beitou - Thermal Valley
Steam rising from really hot thermal water in Beitou, at the foot of Yangminshan National Park. It is not recommended to touch, but not far from the metro station in Beitou, it is possible to „bathe“ in hot water with locals in designated public pools. Free.
The famous skyscraper is the most beautiful view from the woods above the city. And it's best to come here the night before sunset.
Dadaocheng - merchant houses on Dihua St.
In Taipei, you may come across the newly revitalized Dadocheng district, full of original merchant houses, museums, shops, churches … The merchant houses are narrow from the street, but extend deep beyond the entrance façade. They lived (lives), trades and sells.
Taichung - railway station
The new modern railway station in the center of Taichung is right next to the old, whose building has been preserved.
Guguan Hot Springs
In Guguan, it is possible to hike in many places and test the local mineral water.
Three thousandths, and endless possibilities of treks, around Li-shan.
The most visited place in Tarok is the Tunnel of Seven Turns. Twenty years ago, I was driving through it, now it serves hikers. The cars have a new tunnel, without seven turns.
Pagoda at a Buddhist temple in Tien-siang. From here it is not far to the Taroko Gorge. Not even to the Water Curtain Tunnel and other hiking trails.
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