Sunday, April 29, 2012

Touring Taoyuan: A Day in Daxi Township

This Sunday, we got up at the crack of dawn to accompany three busloads of our co-workers and their families on a group tour of Daxi township in Taoyuan County. Taoyuan County is just southwest of Taipei, and Daxi was about a two-and-a-half hour bus ride for us from Taichung. 

Our first stop of the day was at this flower farm/petting zoo/DIY recreation area. Confused? Everyone who signed up for the trip had the option of baking cookies, potting flowers, or customizing bath salts. B signed us up for cookies, and it was not quite what we expected. We were seated around empty banquet tables in the second-floor dining room of a European restaurant at the “farm”, then everyone was given a tray, a pair of disposable plastic gloves, and a lump of shortbread cookie dough with what looked to be some sort of herb or tea leaf mixed in. Our task of baking cookies consisted of breaking the dough into pieces and molding it into flattened shapes to put on the baking tray. I made lots of love hearts and some weird banana-shaped pieces to fill the gaps on the tray, while B was more ambitious with a little shortbread man. When we came back an hour later to pick up the cookies, we were delighted to smell and taste them - the mystery herb stirred into the dough turned out to be lavender! A delicious little treat for a long morning without our usual Sunday brunch. 

While we’d been waiting for the cookies to bake, we explored the “farm” where there were rows of flowers and photo ops as well as a small petting zoo. The ponies had seen better days, but there were lots of fat, happy goats, some snoozing rabbits, and a huge turkey. We met the group for lunch at a big hall where we shared tons of Chinese dishes, like warm cucumbers in a gingery sauce, bamboo, cold chicken, spicy beef with peppers, steamed fish, and prawns.  

After lunch we went to the Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park, where over 100 statues of Chiang Kai-Shek were relocated from schools and public areas all over Taiwan when the DPP were in power. We walked through the park and ended up on a path through a densely forested area that led to a lush pond inhabited by black swans. We were standing with a buddy looking out into the water when our area director, who had come on the tour with us, walked by and asked if we’d seen the mausoleum. Mausoleum?! Just a five minute walk down the path, we almost missed seeing the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-Shek in his former summer home. We weren’t comfortable taking photos of the building with so many armed guards around, but we did do the silent walk around the perimeter of the pretty courtyard to see his black marble coffin under a portrait of the late KMT leader. There was also a sign indicating that we should bow to the portrait - eep. I managed a curt head nod, but it was a little awkward reading the sign, then noticing the guard who was watching us read the sign. I’ve never visited the mausoleum of a Generalissimo before! They don’t put this stuff in the etiquette books! 

After everyone got their fill of CK-S statues, we got back on the bus and made a couple other stops - one at a famous bakery to buy fresh milk nougat as well as some gigantic cream puffs filled with peach-flavored custard (which didn’t last long enough to take pictures, sorry) and then again at a famous snack street on a very old road in Daxi. It started raining heavily just in time for this stop, and we all sloshed through the puddles up some stone steps to the street - it was beautiful. The street was lined with temples, shrines, and beautiful old stone and brick buildings. It had a lot of standard Taiwanese snacks, but there were also a few local delicacies. Apparently the specialty of the area is dried bean curd (basically dehydrated tofu), and there were also some locally made shrimp crackers which are Brett’s favourite - we had to stock up and buy two bags. I also had some egg waffles which are a favourite of mine! Brett noticed a vendor selling a cut of pork which I’m not sure how to name - it’s basically a piece of the leg? Maybe ankle? Very fatty, and with the bone in, but tastes like ham. When you buy it, they slice it up nice and small, then put it in a little plastic snack box with some packets of mustard and pickles. They even threw in the bone. It cost NT$250, but after a few bites we knew we’d hit the jackpot! We took that home and saved it for split pea soup, which Brett has been cooking as I write this. 

We had a lot of fun in Daxi, and it was really nice to get out of the city for the day. This weekend also marked the completion of one whole year in Taiwan, which we’ll post about later in the week!

Amanda and the lavender cookies
Not that pretty to look at, but they were pretty delicious.
Ta See Blooming Oasis [大溪花海農場]
There were a number of fields with flowers and there was also a small petting zoo.
Amanda at Ta See Blooming Oasis [大溪花海農場]
Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park & Chiang Kai-shek's Mausoleum [慈湖陵寢]
We ran into our friend Denton who was also on the trip.
Amanda at Cihu Memorial Park
Lake next to Chiang Kai-shek's Mausoleum
Dasi [大溪] Snack Street
Dasi [大溪] Snack Street


  1. I want to go there ... do you know how to go from Chungli bus stations ?

  2. I'm not sure, but if you show the people at the bus station the Chinese then they may be able to help you.

    Ta See Blooming Oasis [大溪花海農場]
    Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park & Chiang Kai-shek's Mausoleum [慈湖陵寢]

    If you copy the Chinese into a Word file and make the font really large, you can put it on a memory stick and print it off at 7-11.

    Good luck!