Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/10 at Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) with the Bojes!


Monday we woke up to Taiwan’s 100th birthday! (See Boje’s previous post for a more detailed explanation). We were up way earlier than usual to head out to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭). 

Getting there went pretty smoothly thanks to Boje’s habit of printing off large, bold directions in English, Mandarin, and Pinyin. We piled into a cab with his parents and were taken to the main bus station in town (ie: a street full of small, storefront bus terminals). We couldn’t find our bus counter at first (for the Nantou bus company’s “Sun Moon Lake Shuttle”) but a quick stop at a hotel desk to declare “Wǒ men yào dào Rìyuètán” (“We want to go to Sun Moon Lake!”) soon had us pointed in the right direction. We bought round trip tickets for the shuttle which cost approximately NT$350 per person. The trip was two hours with several stops along the way, including Taichung HSR and Taichung Main Station for people wanting to embark from different parts of town.

We were dropped off in front of the Sun Moon Lake visitors’ centre, and after gathering some maps and information we headed down to Shuishe Pier to buy tickets for the ferry shuttle. This cost NT$300 per person for a hop-on-hop-off adult fare. The pier and the boats were rocking a lot from all the high-speed ferry traffic on the lake, so if you’re weak of stomach like me I’d suggest taking something. I was fine, but I was also still doped up on the nausea-suppressant I’d taken for the bus ride. We were given a lengthy explanation - in Mandarin - of the history of the area during the boat ride, and we rode two stops over to the base of the Sun Moon Lake gondola.

The Cien Pagoda, as seen from Sun Moon Lake: "The Ci En Pagoda was built by the late President Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother. It was completed in April 1971 and sits on the 954 meter-high Shabalan Mountain."

You can find more info on Sun Moon Lake from the official government website, click here.

There was a snack street and a cluster of small souvenir shops, restaurants and inns adjacent to the pier at this stop, so we decided to have lunch at a restaurant advertising “President’s fish”, and with large tables designed for family-style shared dishes. They had a small English menu and it didn’t take us long to settle on a sweet-and-sour fish, Taiwanese-style BBQ chicken, a shrimp and vegetable omelet, and pork fried rice with beer and apple cider. What we weren’t told when we ordered pork fried rice “for four people” was that they’d be bringing us four family-size portions of fried rice. We all had a good laugh about the waiter being so worried about us accidentally ordering too much beer (as the bottles turned out to be quite large), but not thinking to warn us to at least halve our rice order. The food was all very tasty and satisfying, and everything was piled with vegetables. I loved it!

With full stomachs we waddled (a common theme that weekend) down a walking path towards the gondola station. It was a really beautiful wooden walkway bordered with trees and flowers with the lake on one side and a mountain face on the other! There were also a few signs along the way that explained some of the traditional fishing methods still used on Sun Moon Lake, like the artificial “floating islands” of plants whose roots are used to attract fish, and “four handed” nets that are left in the water for prolonged periods, then slowly hoisted up by their four corners.

The gondola station was pretty quiet for a holiday. Brett and his dad went up to the second floor to buy the tickets (NT$250 per person - more if you wanted entry to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village theme park) and then came back downstairs so we could walk up a winding queue. There was only a brief wait at the top, and because of the low traffic the four of us had an eight-seat cable car all to ourselves. The ride was very smooth and enjoyable, and the expanse of the lake was an impressive sight as we glided over huge and ancient trees.

After the cable ride (and return trip) we got back on the ferry to Shuishe Pier and caught the bus home. Sun Moon Lake is very beautiful and I think we could go back several times before we’d have seen everything we wanted to. It was also great to enjoy some cool weather for once. It was drizzling rain a little bit when we arrived in the morning, but this tapered off almost immediately and we were left with a cool, fresh day. The climate felt a lot like a moderately warm summer day in Alberta.

After the two-hour bus ride home, we walked a block or so to Taichung Park where they were wrapping up some National Day celebrations. We wandered around the paths for a while, savouring the cool air of the park. We caught a cab home to rest for a bit, before heading back out the door to the Ble d’Or, a western restaurant specializing in beer and European cuisine (with plenty of Taiwanese options on the menu as well!) It was nice to share some very cheesy pizza and cold drinks in celebration of both Taiwan’s centennial and Canadian Thanksgiving! We were all very tired after dinner and headed straight to bed.

In the morning, Brett’s parents packed up to go and we saw them into a cab to the HSR so they could head to the airport in Taoyuan. We missed them as soon as the taxi pulled away, and the visit was far too short, but it was very nice to have some visitors from home to remind us that the people we miss are still there and not just pixelated images on our Skype interface! We’re really happy to have had Brett’s parents here and would like to remind everyone that our door is always open to family and friends who want a private tour of Taiwan!

Stay tuned for Brett’s post about buying our scooter!

Under the watchful eye of the paparazzi
Waiting for the bus to Sun Moon Lake
Brett, G & D overlooking Sun Moon Lake
A little more than we had been expecting
I'm no expert on ornithology, but I'm pretty sure this is a bird.
Mom & Dad in the Gondola at Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)
Taichung Park

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am a graduate student of Chung Hsing University in Taiwan. My name is Pei Chun. My research topic is about what people feel about Sun Moon Lack, because the research needs, I hope to get your consent to use the content of this blog to do content analysis. Thank you!
    Pei Chun