16 Days Trip Around Taiwan III: Seafood Market at Guei Hou

Mr. Chou heard that everybody was obsessed with seafood, so he asked the driver to take us to Guei Hou Fish Harbor (龜吼漁港) at Wanli(萬里) to try seafood here. Guei Hou, an intriguing name!

Here used to be a place for fishermen to unload and sale the fish. Gradually, it became a small market at this fish harbor. “Fisher Market” (漁夫市集) was a reorganized area in 2015. It was a clean and well-lighted place, which were about 40 stands. In this market, we could find fish and all kinds of seafood. You could pick any seafood by yourselves and find a restaurant to cook the seafood for you. Or you could simply walk in and enjoy the cuisines that the restaurant provided in the menu. The central area was the dining area. We picked tasted various seafood there.

Andy Fang, our group leader, was an epicure and could speak Taiwanese, so we followed him closely. He was in charge of ordering, buying seafood we were interested in, and paying the costs. There were lots of visitors in the market. It took us some time to find a table. Luckily, we found a place that’s well ventilated, and the price was fair. Soon enough, our cuisines were served.

(Two fresh steamed fish-which tickled my taste buds.)

(Japanese fresh sashimi-the texture was tender and savory.)

(A plate of shrimps. The shrimps were bright red, sweet, and tasty.)

(Stir fried clams with basil were creamy and appetizing.)

(Stir fried fresh squids were chewy)

There was a special and especially delicious vegetable called white water snowflake(水蓮). The water spinach was also fresh and tender. When we finished one plate of water spinach, we asked to order another plate. Finally, we spent NT$ 2,500 for 7 people. To convert currencies, US$1 equals to NT$ 30.49. US$100 equals to NT$ 3,000, which had excellent quality and reasonable price.

(View from the distance of Guei Hou Fish Harbor)

After finishing tasting the seafood cuisines, we headed to Yehliu Geopark, which was one of the most famous attractions for the visitors. It took us only 10 minutes from the fish market to there. Taking a stroll was just perfect for digestion. Extraordinary sights like Queen’s Head, Lady’s Slipper, Leopard, and Sea Candles aroused our curiosity.

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Author: 若敏 / Translator: Justaiwantour

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16 Days Trip Around Taiwan II: Yangmingshan

Before I visited Taiwan, my impression of Taiwan came from Taiwanese movies, Xi Murong’s (席慕容) poems, Chiang Hsun’s (蔣勳) speech of aesthetics, Lung Ying-Tai’s (龍應台) essays, Lo Da-Yu’s (羅大佑) songs, etc. It was more real for what I saw but not what I heard. Finally, I got the chance to travel to Taiwan, where I’d been longing to pay a visit. What the most heart touching was the warm hospitality of people I met in Taiwan, the tour guide, the driver, and the Taiwanese.

(Silver grass blossom at Yangmingshan. Photo credit: 雪梅)

On the second day of our arrival in Taipei, we planned to visit Yangmingshan, Yeliu Geopark, Gold Waterfall and Jiufen Old Street. The most famous Taiwanese song, “Come to Meet You in Taipei in Winter 冬季到臺北來看雨,” was sung by Meng Ting Wei (孟庭葦). We met drizzle in fall as well. It kept raining for days. When I finished breakfast and got on the bus, I worried how to enjoy ourselves to the full due to the rainy day. As the tour guide, Mr. Chou, introduced the attractions, we looked out from the window, not only the rain stopped, but also the sun came out. We were excited to say that we were so lucky.

(Yangmingshan Eco Center陽明山生態中心 Photo credit: 若敏)

In 1962, Yangmingshan National Park was organized to be built. On Sep 16. 1985, Yangmingshan National Park was formally established. With the total area more than 11 thousand hectares, it includes Yangmingshan and volcano groups, which takes Datun Mountain and Qixing Mountain as a center. Because of the influence of volcanic activity, the ground surrounding the sulfur vents and hot springs was formed, making it unique and magnificent, hence it is the smallest but the most famous national park among five national parks. It is one of the most famous travel spots in northern Taiwan and also a great summer resort.

In a year, the four seasons bring different scenes to Yangmingshan. In winter, the clouds float. In spring, the calla lily and cherry blossom. In summer, the brook gurgles and the grass and trees are luxuriant. In the fall, the silver grass grows over the mountain and swings in the wind.

(The reconstructed Grass Mountain Chateau. Photo credit: 陳皮梅from the Internet)

Furthermore, the historical landscape is more distinctive. Jhongshan Building was built to perpetuate the memory of Mr. Sun Yat-sen’s centennial birthday. Grass Mountain Chateau was the first official residence where Chiang Kai-shek(蔣介石) and his wife, Song Mei-Ling(宋美齡), stayed in when they first visited Taiwan in 1949. After they moved to Shilin Official Residence, they still came here to avoid the summer heat. Unfortunately, Grass Mountain Chateau was burnt down at late night on Apr. 7th, 2007.

(The living room at Grass Mountain Chateau. Photo credit: 陳皮梅from the Internet)

Yangmingshan National Park features the landscape based on Datun Mountain volcano group, which includes Siaoyoukeng, Lengshueikeng, Datun, Erzihping, Qingtiangang, Yangmingshuwu Visitor Center, The Lin Yutang House, Longfong Valley Liouhuang Valley, and three areas that require permission to enter, Lujiaokeng, Menghuan Pond Ecological Protected Area, and Mt. Huangzuei Ecological Conservation Area.

(The travel map at Yangmingshan. Photo credit: 若敏)

We arrived at YangMingshan National Park Visitor Center on Jhuzihhu Road and experienced the hard earthquake caused by volcanic eruptions. We also visited ecological experience room and saw various butterfly specimen. YangMingshan was gorgeous, which deserved to be called the back garden of Taipei.

(Volcanic Experience. Photo credit: Alice)

The second stop was Siaoyoukeng at an altitude of 805 meters. It was a notched volcano, which was at the northwest of Qixing Mountain. Yangmingshan was once an active volcano, while now it was called dormant volcano. When a volcano activity stopped, the heat energy still remained. This heat energy heated the groundwater, making the underground accumulate the pressure of steam, which finally caused to a burst near the crater. The steam came out from the burst. The rocks around the crater were severely weathered because of the effect of high heat and water, which made the collapse of Siaoyoukeng. This phenomenon was also called post-volcanic action.

(Looking far into the distance from Siaoyoukeng. Photo credit: 若敏)

Everybody followed the tour guide to the Sulphur smoke spout of Siaoyoukeng. The sunken place was lacerated. Not even a blade of grass grew. The fumarole permanently spouted Sulphur steam. There were a lot of yellow Sulphur crystallization and hot steam near. We walked up to the wooden path, saw the white smoke came from the fumarole in close distance and smelled the Sulphur in the air. The pungent smell of Sulphur smelled like rotten eggs. It is not appropriate to stay here for a long time.

(Experience Siaoyoukeng in close distance. Photo credit: Connie)

We were reluctant to leave Yangmingshan. We waved goodbye to the rolling mountains, ethereal steam, and the silver grass.

 

The song, “Yangmingshan(陽明山),” composed by Jay Chou(周杰倫) rang with the wind:

Facing the wind and Enjoying calla lily on the way.

In this blossoming season, you hold me tight.

You said this is an unspeakable secret.

迎著風一路欣賞海芋

你緊抱我這一場花季

你說是不能說的秘密

Shh! Maybe there are truly countless unspeakable secrets in Yangmingshan that you should discover and imagine by yourselves. Perhaps next time, spending an additional day, taking a stroll, going hiking to Qixing Mountain, seeing calla lily and cherry will be an amazing experience for a different flower season.

Author: 若敏 / Translator: Justaiwantour

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16 Days Trip Around Taiwan I: First Visit to Taipei

It’s been a week since I went back to the United States after finishing the trip in Taiwan. From Taipei to Tainan, Kenting to Hualien, the scene of sunshine, sandy beach, sea wave, and cactus in lyrics we’ve sung during our college life popped up. When the footprint on the beach, salty sea breeze, bicycle at Taitung Forest Park, Sacred Tree at Alishan and Sun Moon Lake came into my view, I was deeply touched by the fulfillment of a wish.

(The southernmost tip of Taiwan-Kenting National Park. My friend, Pin(萍), Fang(芳) and I were dancing together. Photo credit: Connie)

It was five years ago that I started thinking about visiting Taiwan. My son once traveled to Taiwan for a college graduation trip. He told me, “Mom, you have to go to Taiwan. It’s a unique place.” Due to my passion for delicacies and habit of writing food article, I got to know Fang Wang(王凡). The plan of visiting Taiwan unfolded during a casual chat. We started preparing the tour in May and set out on this journey in October. Eventually, “2018 Taiwan Food and Beverage Industry Tour from Atlanta USA” began.

(Lavender Forest. Photo credit: Connie)

During 16-day trip around Taiwan, I had more joy and less worry. Before starting off, I’ve read several Taiwan travel guidelines and had a superficial understanding of Taiwan. When I saw the well-designed customized travel brochure made by the travel agency, most of the attractions I wanted to visit were included. With Justawiantour(台灣光彩國際旅行社) and our tour guide, Hung Yi Chou(曹宏頤), we, 21 members, traveled from North to South and turned Taiwan strait to the other side of Taiwan, Taitung, the Pacific Ocean.

(The entrance of Central Cross-Island Highway. Photo credit: Hung Yi Chou(曹宏頤))

The plane took off in Atlanta, USA and transferred at Narita Airport. When we arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, it’s 10 pm, Oct. 17th. Through the sprinkle, I stared at the Taipei night view through the car window. A piece of the familiar song, “Come to Meet You in Taipei in Winter 冬季到臺北來看雨,” sung by Ting Wei Meng (孟庭葦) whispered into my ears. It was Autumn then. It looked like it rained a lot in Taipei. On that day, we checked in June Hotel (Minquan E. Rd., Neihu Dist., Taipei City). The lobby was simple and warm. I surprisingly found out I could exchange New Taiwan Dollar here in the hotel. The exchange rate is reasonable and fair, and there was no handling charge, which solved our problem. The gym and the laundry room in this hotel were for free. We’d stayed in June Hotel for 4 days and gained much from it.

(Overlooking Rocky Mountain, Canada in the sky)

(June Hotel. The breakfasts are various. The room is neat.)

After finishing breakfast, as there was still one hour left, my roommate, Connie and I decided to take a stroll near our hotel. The streets in Taipei were clean. The flowers blossomed. The gardening was beautiful.

(The members were having their breakfast and chatting.)

During our 16-day Taiwan tour, the most important part was our tour guide, Hung Yi Chou. It was lucky to have a professional, responsible, knowledgeable, humorous, hard-working, honest, and considerate tour guide like him. He is the best tour guide I’ve ever met. I could strongly feel that “Taiwan’s most beautiful scenery is people.”

(Mr. Chou was explaining the Taiwan tour.)

Even now, the memories replayed like movies. Taipei 101, Yeliu Park, Siaoyoukeng at Yangmingshan, National Palace Museum, Shilin Official Residence, Tamsui Old Street, the night view at Jiufen, Tropic of Cancer at Taitung, hot spring at Beitou, Taroko at Hualien, Eluanbi Lighthouse at Kenting, Cape No.7, Love Pier at Kaohsiung were unforgettable. In these 16 days, I enjoyed the poetic grace of Taiwan both in a familiar and an exotic way.

Author: 若敏 / Translator: Justaiwantour

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2018 Top 6 Christmas Celebrations in Taiwan

Every place in every country is well-prepared for this grand event, so is Taiwan. You can see giant Christmas trees and colorful decorations or installation arts everywhere. There are some events held for Christmas in Taiwan. We select top 6 Christmas celebrations in Taiwan for you. Bring your family and friends together and follow this heartwarming Christmas atmosphere! Hope you enjoy your festival!

1. Dior Christmas Tree at Taipei 101

The facade of the boutique of the famous brand Dior was decorated with a huge Christmas tree with illumination to Christmas at Taipei 101. This artificial tree is enlivened with 120 animal decoration and a large statue of tigers and giraffe. This Christmas tree is up to 7.5 meters tall.


2. CHRISTMASLAND in New Taipei City

Christmasland in New Taipei City has been seen as one of the most well-known winter festivals in Taiwan. There are several must-see attractions this year: the four light zones, four overpasses decorated with rose gold, pink, blue, and silver white lights, the first-ever giant ball-like LED art installation, The Fascinating Planet, and the first-ever exhibition of The Pool, an interactive art installation from New York. There is also a Planet Container Market!

3. Christmas wonderland at Bellavita

When you enter the lobby of Bellavita, you will be attracted to this stunning scene. The light blue transparent films were hung from the ceiling. Under this decoration, you will see this snow and a glacier. Stepping through the snow, you can enjoy the Christmas atmosphere here in this transparent glass house.

4. I-Sharing

“I-Sharing” is the Christmas event that is held by Uni-President each year. The theme city this year is Milan, the most romantic art city in Italy. The design of the beautiful Christmas tree, Purple Wish, is based on the famous glass window of Milan. The visitors can enjoy the romantic Christmas atmosphere at Uni-President Department Store and Kaohsiung Dream Mall.

5. Yilan Christmas Village

The design is based on surrealism. This year, Yilan government decided to divide the Christmas Village to three main areas. Aside from the main lanterns of 20-meter-tall Christmas tree, there are lots of decorations and stunning lanterns beside the pathway. Isn’t it fascinating and romantic to see those bright pyramids on Christmas?

6. Christmas Party at Chimei Museum

Here comes the most fantastic Christmas party in southern Taiwan. Chimei Museum launched this exclusive “Christmas Weekend” in order to celebrate this holiday. First of all, “three main collections in Chimei Museum” are the most eye-catching part. The three main collections were decorated with Christmas tree and lights. Aside from that, there are several performances such as “Christmas trio” and “Tainan Yage Chorus” (臺南雅歌合唱團). At night, what surprising is that there is a Christmas electronic music party. The famous DJ knows how to read the dance floor and pull a crowd. Enjoy the music and yourselves here!

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Dragon Boat Festival

Food always comes first for Taiwanese people. The must-eat food during the festival is sticky rice buns or some people might call them sticky rice dumplings.

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People put sticky rice, pork belly, salted egg yolk, boiled peanuts and all kinds of other delicious ingredients inside bamboo leaves, and wrap up with a string.

You can be creative with different sauces when you eat them!

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If you happen to have some friends visiting Taiwan during the festival, you will have to take them to the dragon boat race, since it’s what this annual celebration is mostly known for.

The dragon boat is simply a big boat designed to look like a dragon. The first boat that gets the flag wins the race. Competitors from all over the world come here just for the race and take part in the celebration.

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Spring, Happiness, Love 花朵盛開在Taipei City

The cold winter is about to end, and it’s getting warmer everyday. The blooming of flowers all over Taipei City celebrates the arrival of spring. Starting with the Yangmingshan Flower Festival (陽明山花季), and followed by the Taipei City Azalea Festival (台北杜鵑花季) and Zhuzihu Calla Lily Festival (竹子湖海芋季), everyone can enjoy the colorful sea of flowers that greets springtime.

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Yangmingshan Flower Festival (陽明山花季)
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Taipei City Azalea Festival (台北杜鵑花季)

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Zhuzihu Calla Lily Festival (竹子湖海芋季)
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the calla lily farms night view in Taipei

 

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Something about Taipei 101 you don’t know

Inverted image of TAIPEI 101

The eastern side 17:00~18:00

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During this period of time, visitors can ascend to the observatory on the 89th floor and see the inverted image of TAIPEI 101 leaning on Elephant Mountain.

 

Infinity Sky

The heavens and earth are reflected and mirrored in a massive kaleidoscope surrounding our visitors, allowing them to enjoy a visual experience that seems to place the very heavens and earth directly into their hands.

*Reminder: for visitors wearing miniskirts, please be aware that the glass floor may be reflective.

 

Outdoor landscapes on the 91st floor

Taipei Skyline

On the highest outdoor observatory, visitors can temporarily experience the strength of the wind and take the closer look at the 508-meter peak on the top of Taipei 101.

 

Taipei 101 Run Up

There are 2,046 stairs from the 1st to 91st floor. We would like to invite you to run for the finish line resembling TAIPEI 101’s highest glory.

2018 TAIPEI 101 New Year Show

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Crowd of a Million Gathered in front of City Hall for the Count Down
Fireworks Show Combined with Multimedia Display for the First Time
Full 360 Seconds of Excitement

 

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That’s How Do Taiwanese Celebrate Lantern Festival?

In Taiwan, there are various ways of celebrating Lantern Festival. In the early stage, Taiwanese used to hold lanterns on this holiday. Several local temples even organize lantern fairs to attract visitors and believers. Nowadays, these fairs become a national activity.

“Hold Lanterns & Enjoy Colorful Lanterns”

Lanterns are made of thin bamboo and steel wire as framework. After completing the framework, they will be stuck and covered by paper, plastic or gauze. Inside them, candles will be put to lighten the lanterns. Every year, a few days before and after this holiday, houses, buildings and temples will be decorated with various lanterns, which is gorgeous.

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“Guess Riddles”

People write riddles on the lanterns and let people to guess the answers. Whenever the participants guess right, they will be given presents.

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“Eat Rice Dumplings”

Rice dumpling is a famous delicacy in Taiwan. It’s round, soft and chewy, which also represents gathering and happiness.

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          “Lantern Festival”

Lantern Festival is a national holiday. Every year, there are lots of beautiful lanterns that attracts visitors. Lantern Festival this year will take place at Southern Branch of National Palace Museum in Chiayi from Mar. 3rd to Mar. 11th.

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Top 5 Night View Spots from Yangmingshan

Where should people go in Taipei in the middle of the night?  Yangmingshan is known for its gorgeous Taipei’s night view. In the darkness, the lights of the Taipei city and the bright stars illuminate the faces of the visitors. It’s quite chilly in Yangmingshan at night. It will be agreeable and comfortable to taste scrumptious meals or enjoy a cup of hot coffee at this moment.

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1. Caoshan Yeweimian 草山夜未眠

Caoshan Yeweimian is a night view restaurant, which gets 4.5-star reviews from the visitors. Aside from the amazing night view, one of the reasons that touches the reviewers’ heart is its heart-shape tables for the lovers. Fish in sweet and sour sauce served by Caoshan Yeweimian is highly recommended as well.

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2. The Top 屋頂上

The best place to pop the question will definitely be The Top. The design of the restaurant makes people feel like being in the romantic Bali Island. The romantic atmosphere and the fabulous night view fascinate the couples. There are a lot of couples decide to pop the question here as well.

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3. Couple Hill at the Back of Chinese Culture University

文化大學後山情人坡

One of the most famous spot for viewing the night view is at the back of Chinese Culture University. Because it’s near Taipei city and also the location is relatively high, it seems like you are falling into the sparkling and sweet dreams all of a sudden.

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4. Qingtiangang 擎天崗

Owing to the extensive view from Qingtiangang and Erzihping (二子坪), it’s suitable for viewing the stars and the moon.

5. Zhuzihu Observatory 竹子湖觀景台

At the moment of sunset, Zhuzihu is really a perfect place for watching the sunset and experiencing the lights of Taipei city. Even though sometimes the mountain or the view is blanketed by the sea of clouds, you can still experience a different look of Taipei.

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Beitou, the Best Taipei’s Hot Springs Spot!

How do Taiwanese relax themselves in winter? It’s hot spring! A soak in hot springs has been a vital part of Taiwanese culture for a long time. Due to Taiwan’s abundant volcanoes, there are several hot springs spots in Taiwan, one of which is Beitou. You don’t have to travel far to experience a refreshing dip since Beitou is only 30 minutes away from the downtown, making it easier for people to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. There’s nothing like taking a dip in hot springs to relax your muscle and clear your head after an intense day.

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“ Beitou Thermal Valley(Hell Valley) ”

Taiwan’s hot springs are all over the places in Taiwan, including sulfur spring in Yangminshan and Beitou, sodium bicarbonate spring in Wu-lai and Jiaoxi, volcanic mud spring in the southern Taiwan, etc. There are even around 400 duly-registered hot spring hotels in Taiwan. The relaxing feeling as well as the effect of maintaining beauty makes Taiwan a great spot for hot spring culture.

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“ Yangmingshan National Park ”

What’s the difference between different types of hot springs? First of all, sulfur spring in Yangminshan and Beitou is either yellowish-brown or turbid, which will sooth your muscles well. Secondly, sodium bicarbonate spring in Wu-lai and Jiaoxi is
colorless and tasteless. Since it’s good for skin, it is also called beauty hot spring. As for volcanic mud spring in the southern Taiwan, it will clean off the cuticle.

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Aside from soaking in hot water, you have the chance to experience various activities relating to hot springs. Boil eggs in hot spring! You eat eggs every day, but we bet you’ve never tried eggs with hot spring flavor! Threw eggs into the hot spring, wait for 8 to 10 minutes, rinse the eggs with cold water, and then you can taste your hot spring eggs! Isn’t it intriguing?

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