Ancient civilization and Great Skyscraper

Hugo is the best friends since elementary school. Every year we travel together. This spring we chose Taiwan as our destination. We had 8 days of Taiwan tour. Taiwan was warmer than Sweden in April. We booked a Taipei private tour for our first day in Taiwan. Taipei day tour included those most famous attractions in Taipei. It’s really a steal!

We looked forward to Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum. Hugo once studied oriental art in university. He told me because of some historical factors, the best artworks preserved in the National Palace Museum instead of Beijing or Tokyo! Our driver-guide told us there is over 700 thousand treasure preserved in the National Palace Museum. Every piece of artworks is the spirit of Chinese culture.

I was very interested in the painting and calligraphy part. The painting skill is totally different from Western. The calligraphy was amazing! I couldn’t imagine that character can be an art style! Our guide pointed calligraphy and said: This calligraphy was written by a Chinese Emperor of Song dynasty. This emperor even created a new style of calligraphy!

Taipei 101 used to be the highest building in the world during 2004-2010. Though it is not the highest building anymore. Taipei 101 still amazed as us. In Sweden, we don’t have any skyscraper. After I knew that Taiwan is usually hit by Typhoon and earthquake. I am more revered for Taipei 101, what a megastructure!

We took the high-speed elevator to the observatory on the 89th floor in the afternoon. We stayed in the observatory until night. Enjoyed the beautiful sunset and wrote some postcards in Taipei 101. Looking down from this height, both the cars and the houses are like a cute model. Taipei is a city which really combines modern and traditional.

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Mysterious and charming Jiufen

This is my last summer vacation at my university. We choose Taiwan as our destination for the graduation trip. It was also the first time we visit Asia. Everything we met in Taiwan is amazing, especially the Jiufen old street. Jiufen is a small town built on the mountainside. The first sight we saw Jiufen we were all stunned. As if we were in the scene of the film, Spirited Away. Then, our tour guide told us that Jiufen used to be the most important gold mine in Asia in the 1910’. Because of these gold mine and wealth, Jiufen even gained a nickname like “Little Hong Kong” in the past. My classmates and I explored the Jiufen old street and walked along the stairs.

Fortunately, the weather was not bad when we arrived. Our tour guide said that the weather in Jiufen is always rainy. There are more than 200 rainy days a year in Jiufen. So we are very lucky! The cloudy weather was very cool and comfortable.

There are many lanterns hanging around the Jiufen old street. I love these lanterns so much, they are mysterious and…cute for me. We took many pictures in the narrow old streets with lanterns. And of course, we didn’t forget the delicious food in Jiufen. Such as the famous dessert-taro balls which made from taro and sweet potato. We also visited the most famous Jiufen tea house – Amei Tea House. Tasting the Taiwan O0long Tea and enjoyed the beautiful seascape.

While we were about to leave Jiufen. The light of sunset turned Jiufen into golden. At the same time, the light of the old street was lit up suddenly! The whole city was sparkling and shining, just like the prosperity time of golden town in the past.

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A Taste feast of Taipei day tour

Taiwan tour was unexpected. We originally planned to visit Vietnam and Japan. But after booked our flight tickets we noticed that we will have to stay in Taiwan for 30 hours to transfer! We didn’t want to waste the time in Taiwan so we booked a Taipei day tour.

Our Taiwan family trip started in a historic district-Dadaocheng. There are many beautiful old street houses in Dadaocheng. Some of them are Baroque architecture! Just like Italy! The shops in Dadaocheng are also surprised us too. Traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese pastry, Tea house, and dehydrated goods. All of them are smelled good!

Longshan Temple is located at another historic district-Manka. Before Dadaocheng raises up, Manka used to be the biggest commercial center of Taipei. And the center of Manka is a famous temple-Longshan Temple. This temple was built in 1738 A.D. during the reign of the Qing Dynasty. After hundreds of years, though Manka is no longer a business center of Taipei Longshan temple has always been the center of faith of Taipei. We saw the smoke of incense fluttering around the temple, the smell of incense let us feel peace and solemn.

“It time to have some delicious cuisine,” our driver-guide said that. We chose the most famous restaurant in Taipei-Din Tai Fung for dinner. “Wow, it smells very tempting.” My father said. He is a chef in a restaurant with an excellent sense of smell. As predicted, the Xiaolongbao is juicy and tasty! Beef noodle is very savory! My father was very enjoyed the meal. After this Taiwan tour, we have a consensus that the time we stay in Taiwan was too short! Next time we will visit Taiwan at least for a week! Taiwan, see you soon! Waiting for us!

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An amazing coast and graceful queen

I am from the Netherlands, Taiwan and the Netherlands are both ocean countries but the coastal terrain in Taiwan is very different from my country! Our coastline is flat and monotonous but the coastline of Taiwan is very amazing! Especially in Yehliu.

Yehliu is far from the Taipei downtown for us, my mother is 80 years old now so we didn’t consider the bus. We attended a Yehliu tour-a driver-guide led us to Yehliu geopark. Yehliu is a cape which extends to the ocean almost 2km from the land. Our driver-guide told us that the name “Yehliu” was derived from the Dutch language “Duijvel Hoek” The story is cool to me that Dutch had been to Taiwan in 17 century!

Yehliu is formed by orogeny, weathering, and coastal erosion. We saw much strange rock in Yehliu Geopark. Some of them looked like mushroom and ginger and some like high heeled shoes and candles! But the most special one is “The Queen’s head!” As if Cleopatra – the Queen of Egypt reborn!

Queen’s head has become the symbol of Yehliu geopark. According to our driver-guide said that Queen’s neck was getting thinner and thinner in these 40 years. The management office of Yehliu is afraid that one day Queen’s head will split. Unfortunately, it seems unavoidable under the weathering. So we were so lucky to see this graceful Oueen during this Yehliu tour.

I noticed there was a statue stand in Yehliu Geopark-a rock which is the only one not made by nature. This statue is built to commemorate a man named LIN, TIAN-ZHEN. He had saved 4 drowning victims but one time he fails and never come back. The Government decided to build a statue to commemorate he and his courage. Protect Yehliu geopark forever.

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Sent the messages to the sky in Pingxi

Keep away from downtown Taipei, we went to Pingxi old street. Pingxi is located at valley area. Our tour guide said that Pingxi is the least populated district of Taipei. There are only 4000 people living in the district. Even the convenience store-which you could find in every intersection in Taiwan are rarely seen in Pingxi. Therefore, Pingxi keeps many original sceneries.

Pingxi used to be the important coal mine origin of Taiwan. Let me recall my hometown-Birmingham. Just like Pingxi, Birmingham was well known about its coal mine and industry. Pingxi old street is built along a railway line-Pingxi line Taiwan. In early time, this railway used to carried coal but now it’s a popular sightseeing railway in Taipei suburbs.

We walked down the Pingxi historical railway and saw many tourists from all over the world-Come for the sky lantern. They use different languages to write their wishes on sky lantern. We saw there have Chinese, Japanese, English, Korean and several languages that we haven’t seen. It’s quite interesting! Flying sky lantern is the most famous traditional activity in Pingxi. People write their wishes on a sky lantern and then set off sky lantern into the sky.

We bought a Pingxi lantern and use writing brush-a Chinese traditional stationery to writing down our wishes and dream. My kid drew a dragon and my wife wrote “Peace and Lucky”. Then it’s my turn. I wanted to challenge Chinese characters! So I picked the word “吉祥” which means “Auspicious” in English. Ah…I admit that Chinese characters are very difficult for me but beautiful. After we finished, we standing on both sides of the railway.”3, 2,1, Let it go!” We watched our sky lantern rising slowly and farther and farther away from us. “God has heard our wishes,” my boy said.

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Jiufen must-try delicacies

I took a Taipei day tour to Jiufen with my family. Jiufen old street was nothing like we have ever seen back in the Philipines. My parents really liked the street view and architecture, but what my sisters and I enjoyed the most was the food there.

We were attracted by the smell of fishball soup right when we stepped foot in the old street and our tour guide said we had to give it a try. There were five different flavors of fishballs in a serve of soup, and every one of them was tasty in their own way, but they were all chewy and so well-cooked! The celery evened out the taste of the fish and gave it a more fresh taste.

We wandered through the streets and found ourselves stopping by several Taiwanese food stands. Our guide helped us ordered some stinky tofu and dared us to try it, but it really smelled just like its name, sour and stinky. However, my sister took a bite somehow and made this really interesting face. I then took a bite and was surprised by the taste! It tasted way better than it smelled, I could taste the flavor of soybeans as I chewed on the tofu and the sauce was mixing so well with the tofu without being too salty.

We also tried some Taiwanese meatballs, which were chewy on the outside and full of flavored meat and bamboo shoots on the inside. Another chewy salty snack we tried was the mugwort sticky rice bun, in which I could really taste the grassy flavor of the bun and the salty dried turnip filling.

For dessert, our tour guide said he saved the best for the last, he said this dish has always been praised by his Taiwan tour customers. We had taro balls with red beans and mung beans. And again they were chewy, but as I chewed on it got tenderer and the scent of taro and sweet potato rose. Even my parents couldn’t stop eating the taro balls!

Last but not least, we went to a tea house with a great atmosphere of the mixture of Taiwanese and Japanese style. There, our guide taught us how to serve tea properly and we tried several different famous Taiwanese tea. We really enjoyed our Taipei private day tour, and of course the amazing food in Jiufen. Especially some decent tea to end the day.

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Yehliu to Guizhou – Seafood Delicacy

I went on a one day tour to the north coast of Taiwan with my family. Our tour guide Jerry was right off the bat-friendly when he greeted us at our hotel. And our chartered van was very comfortable for my family of four.

It took us around an hour to arrive at Yehliu, the famous nature park and tourist site of northern Taiwan. Jerry explained to us how the magnificent rocks were formed through thousands of years as we wandered through the park. The seawater was so clear and the rocks were all so unique in their own way. And when I saw the Queen’s Head, I was so excited. It was way better than the postcards!

After our visit to the park, Jerry took us to a nearby harbor, Guihou. He said that only the locals and smarter tourists would visit this place. He led us around and picked a restaurant with fresh living fish, crabs, clams, and so many sea creatures! He taught us how to choose the best ingredients to make into the best seafood dish. We were so excited because we lived in Munich back in Germany, where we rarely ate seafood, let alone fresh living one!

We ordered steamed crabs, boiled squid with sweet and sour sauce, fried shrimps, fish miso soup, stir-fried noodles, and stir-fried clams. Jerry taught us how to eat crabs properly. We had to first open up its belly, cut its claws and legs with a pair of pliers. And then we dug in. The meal was amazingly delicious and so price worthy! It only cost merely 500 for us each! I highly recommend those who love nature and seafood to visit Yehliu and Guihou harbor.

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Keelung night market – Food Paradise

The Keelung night market is one of the biggest night markets in Taiwan, which is also right by the port of Keelung. That is exactly why my family and I decided to put it on top of our to-go list when we arrived by a cruise. Due to the short amount of time pulling in, my family and I decided to go on a 4-hour night market food tour. But before it was dawn, when the night market started, we had a nice walk by the port. We enjoyed the view of many spectacular ships and cruises. The cruise ship is a lot bigger when we stand at the port. 

After a while, our tour guide took us to the temple of Keelung, which is also the main attraction. It is amazing to see this astonishing 146-year-old temple so prosper and full of people. Our tour guide said there is a typical way to interpret what the gods are telling the people by drawing. How interesting! But what we were most excited about was the food of the night market.

After the sun went down the lights of the streets lit up and gave the streets a completely different vibe. I started smelling some great smell of food. And our guide began to take us on a journey of Taiwanese cuisine. We definitely had seafood, I tried some fried squid, grilled oysters, stir-fried shrimps. Some were covered with all kinds of spices and some are covered with only a coat of bat. They were all so fresh and tasty! There was also famous fish meatball soup to try and sausages. One of my favorites is a soup with rice-made slices, it was kind of like noodles, but much wider and thicker. Last but not least, for dessert we had taro balls, which were again, delicious! 

The one day tour in Keelung was absolutely amazing! Especially the delicacy in the night market. I would for sure recommend everyone to come to see for yourself!

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Wild Taiwan Guide: Explore Taroko Gorge and East Rift Valley

Taiwan, a wild island with nature, has many attractions worth exploring like Taroko Gorge and East Rift Valley. To travel in the mountains, please follow us southbound from Hualien to Taitung. Hualien and Taitung are where the most aborigine tribe located in Taiwan and also has the most natural scenic spots. Let’s go sightseeing in this beautiful place.

Drive through the tunnel, we are on the Qingshui Cliff. This marble cliff rises vertically from the Pacific Ocean. The sparkling stone beach comes into view, marking the beginning of this wild Taiwan journey. Ocean waves crash the shore, making the eternal sound back and forth. Calm down with the sound of waves from the far and deep Pacific Ocean.

Going deeper and deeper, we will see the magnificent Taroko Gorge. Seeing Changchun (Eternal Spring) waterfall gush out of the rock into the waterfall and carve the marble gorge all year round, Changchun Shrine offers not only a place to rest and visit but also commemorate the devotion of establishing Central Cross-Island Highway crew. Walking into the mountains, we will get to Tianxiang.

There is a Catholic church, Pudu suspension bridge, White Robed Guanyin Statue, Tian Feng Pagoda, Giant Statute of the Bodhisattva, Xiangde Temple, and Daxiong Baodian temple in Tianxiang. You can enjoy the peaceful religious atmosphere and feel the bird chirping while you go through the bridge. Apart from Taroko Gorge, Hualien also has many places to go. You can try the exciting rafting in Xiuguluan River, eat local street food at the Dongdamen Night Market, and stay in the old Japanese wood house—Hualien Tourism Sugar Factory.

As we go south, we will get to East Rift Valley. East Rift Valley is between the Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range. Liyu Lake welcomes tourists first in East Rift Valley. You can have light-boat sailing and biking around this natural lake. If outdoor enthusiasts are still unsatisfied, you can hike in the forest footpaths in the adjacent Liyu Mountain. After hiking, you can go south for the Lintian Mountain Forestry Center. This fully-functional lumbering community was established during Taiwan under Japanese rule. Now it is a forestry culture and history center to exhibit the memories like lumbering machines, faded pictures, and yellowing document.

After having so much fun in the mountains, we can go biking on Brown Boulevard. The vast rice field may help you get rid of the busy life in city. During autumn, the green filed will turn to brown. And the rice spike will swing with the wind. After that, going down, you can watch the hot balloons in Luye Highlands. The 2019 Taiwan International Balloon Festival will kick off on 6/29. Apart from watching and riding hot balloons, tourists can also try Paragliding here. As for more scenic spots in East Rift Valley, you can check it on our website.

After the wild Taiwan journey, you can explore another side of Taiwan like the fast-paced Taipei, the leisure Taichung, or the harbor Kaohsiung. For the outdoor lovers, don’t miss to go snorkeling in Green Island and feel the ocean in Orchid Island.

 

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Day tour Taiwan recommended: Dreamy lanterns of Pingxi

Pingxi is an adorable district of New Taipei City, in which you can experience both the cultural and the natural side of Taiwan. Pingxi is located in the mountain area, so it is one of the best spots to escape the summer heat in the city. Have been seeing the amazing view of sky lanterns floating into the air in many traveling videos of Taiwan, it is exciting and a dream come true to finally see them with our own eyes. However, public transportation could be long and not so comfortable, that is to say, that traveling here by a charter car or van is a much more ideal choice. It would be also more convenient to visit nearby sites as well.

One thing tourists love to do in Pingxi is to release sky lanterns. There are plenty of shops to choose from, and a variety of sizes and colors of lanterns. When you’ve decided on your lantern, you may write down your wishes with a writing brush. Setting your sky lantern into the sky represents sending your wishes up to the sky. Despite the popular activity, few of us know about the story and origin of this practice. People back in the days, sky lanterns were to warn each other about upcoming dangers, since they live in the mountains.

Other than experiencing this cultural bit of Pingxi, there is another great site to visit nearby, just a ten-minute car ride away. The Shihfen waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Taiwan. Shihfen waterfall is up to 20 meters tall, which is absolutely astonishing to see. Other than the breathtaking fall, you can also enjoy the cool breeze of nature and scent the calmness of the mountains. It is very relaxing to just stand by the fall and admire the beauty of nature.

For being located only 16km away from the port of Keelung, Pingxi is a great place for a one day tour for a cruise stop in Taiwan. Spend half an hour and you would not regret making the decision to travel to Pingxi. A quick escape from your busy everyday life has never been more easy.

 

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