I was planning to go back to the Philippines as soon as the semester ended (January 13), but I had to delay it to one week later because I couldn’t stay out of Taiwan for more than 30 days. If I did, it would affect my eligibility for the national health insurance. Anyway, I saw this as an opportunity to see other parts of Taiwan that I haven’t had the time to explore, such as Taichung.
I have always planned on going to Taichung but I never got the chance to go, so I decided that winter break would be the perfect time to spend a few days in this city. It was supposed to be a solo trip but I figured that it would be more fun to go with someone, so I invited a friend of mine from class who was an exchange student from Thailand and has not travelled outside Taipei since she arrived.
My friend and I mostly spent our time walking around the streets and getting a feel of the city. Just getting lost in the city’s streets was really fun for us because Taichung was very different from Taipei in so many ways. Sometimes we even felt like Taichung was more like Southeast Asia than Taiwan; in other words, we felt at home. Lol! While we enjoyed our trip, we wished it could have been longer so we would be able to visit more places in and around Taichung. We wanted to see lots of places but only had time to visit a few. Well, there’s always next time! 🙂
1. Xinshe Castle
My favorite place out of all the spots we visited during the whole trip! Xinshe Castle is actually a resort in Taichung called Summit Resort. For some reason, it was built with Western-style architecture in mind, so the place looks like a European manor or castle. It’s a bit far from the city and the trip took quite a while, but when we saw the place we knew it was definitely worth the trip! It’s a very relaxing and photogenic place; I actually told my friend that I would like to get married here, lol!
2. Maple Garden
When I travel, I mostly like looking at architecture and learning about history, so when I’m in Taipei I usually visit temples, museums, and iconic buildings. I didn’t encounter lots of these in Taichung, but the city does have a lot of parks – beautiful ones. My favorite is Maple Garden, a refreshing spot of nature between the city’s tall office and residential buildings. It’s not too big, but we spent a lot of time here just chilling.
3. Chun Shui Tang
My friend and I love pearl milk tea, so it was a given that we would visit the birthplace of this famous drink in Taichung! We went to the main branch, of course, which looked so fancy both inside and outside that it actually looked intimidating, especially for budget/student travellers like us. Lol! The food is a bit on the expensive side, but it’s worth it and the pearl milk tea is great – of course, expect no less from the original!
4. Charlie Brown Cafe
We discovered this one by chance. We didn’t know that there was a Charlie Brown Cafe in Taichung, and we didn’t know that it was right across Maple Garden, so we were surprised to see it. I love Peanuts so much and it was lunch time anyway, so we just had to go in and try it!
5. Sun Moon Lake
My friend suggested this one. Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan, as well as a popular tourist attraction for locals. The surrounding area is home to an indigenous group in Taiwan called the Thao, and it was said that the place was named Sun Moon Lake because the east side of the lake resembles the sun, while the west side resembles the moon. It’s actually outside Taichung (it’s located in Nantou), but we had to go through Taichung to get here. From Taichung HSR Station, we had to buy a bus ticket to Sun Moon Lake. The ticket includes vouchers for several activities such as bike rental, boat ride, and ropeway access to an Aboriginal Cultural Park at the other side.
It was too bad that it was drizzling when we got there, and it was really foggy. But still, the lake and the surrounding areas were really pretty. I just wished we had a sunny day during our visit so we could have had brighter photos and a nicer sunset!
Oh, and before I forget, we dined in this one restaurant in the Sun Moon Lake area which was said to be Chiang Kai Shek’s favorite, and we tried his favorite dish in the restaurant, called the President’s Fish. It was really good and I recommend it. Actually, everything we tried in the restaurant was delicious but the President’s Fish is definitely a must-try!
As I said, we stayed for just a few days and we regret not extending for a few more days because we still had lots of destinations we wanted to visit, but it just means that we have a good reason to come back to this lovely city. Till next time, then! 🙂