When this word is uttered, it gives us a long time feeling. But when the waiting is ended, the destination may be the happiness that we have long been waited. The waiting and my first time is similar. This trip is quite different than my trip to Laos, Vietnam or Hong Kong since these trips are sudden ones that I haven't planed much (it happens due to the promotion). For this place, I have been planing since the past May and booked my ticket to fly in December (wow, it's so many months before this trip will actually happen).
After getting the inspiration from watching television, it's now the time to get inspired by images and text from HAMUN RIDE in the edition of Cycling Around TAIWAN. It takes us to cycling around Taiwan, starting from Taipei to Taichung, Taitung, Sun Moon Lake and the far South at Kaohsiung. I got so inspired that only short distance of cycling will satisfy me very much.
The postcard from this sweet potato island was distorted after the Typhoon Soudelor hit Taiwan during the monsoon season. It had arrived before I started out my journey. And before this journey start, I would like to share with you more about my story. After getting inspired by the TV program and magazine like I have said earlier, now it's time to book the flight. In May, there's a promotion from the FelexiBear of V-AIR, starting at 777 THB* and flying from Bangkok-Taiwan. I thought it was such a good price, so my hand clicked booking right away.
After the booking, it's time to wait for the Taiwan journey to begin, a small island that now has become the destination of so many tourists and travelers. It also becomes the paradise of the cyclists who wish to cycling on this island. Then, while I was traveling in Hong Kong in August, the V-AIR airline called me from Taiwan but I missed the call. Taiwan then called to V-AIR Thailand office to get a hold of me about the change of date and time to Taiwan via telephone and email. My original plan of 3 days 2 nights has been extended to 4 days 3 nights. The departure time to Taiwan on the 30th November has been changed to 00.55 a.m. instead of 01.15 am. and the return flight has been changed from the 2nd December to the 3rd December and the time has also been changed from 20.30 p.m. to 21.50 p.m. Thank you so much for the coordination from both Taiwan and Thailand, it made me really impressed with this airline.
Finally, my long waited journey is arrived. This is the atmosphere inside the V-AIR flight ZV008 (ZV8) which will depart from Bangkok (Don Mueang) at 00.55 a.m. to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (Taiwan). The flight is fully packed. It also promotes some sort of flower festival on board.
Let's take a look at the seat, I find that my knees and the front seat has certain distance. In compared to other low cost airlines that put seats so near to one another, I give this one a pass, the purple seats. Now, let's go to Taiwan.
And then the flight arrives at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:20 am with some rain. Oh no, did you think that I'm a cat? So you welcome me with rain? Anyhow, the atmosphere at the airport is extremely quiet, I only see the passengers from the V-AIR. We walk to the immigration so that we can officially enter Taiwan. And, yeah, the place is so quiet that I only see Thai passengers walking around. Then we also walk pass the immigration so we have to go under the red line in order to go through the immigration. We spend less than 10 minutes here and now we are officially entering the sweet potato island. I'm so happy, my dream island. Soon, the hunger dominates me and then I go down to the ground floor of the airport to search for something to eat.
There are 2 convenient stores of Hi Life at the ground floor, one on the far left and the other on the far right. This is the far left one. I found this papaya milk and milk tea that many reviews have mentioned. Did I buy it? Of course. We firstly need a strong life. Then I find some other snack to eat and look for sim card. They said that it will be sold in front of the Hi Life but I can't find it. So, what to do? So stressful, ok, let's not think about it for now and go to buy the bus ticket to Taichung first.
There are 3 bus services from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Taichung.
1. 1860 Bus Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport - Kuokuang Line, the last stop is Taichung Station.
2. 5503 Bus Free Go Bus, the last stop is Gancheng Station.
3. 1623 Bus UBUS , the last stop is Taichung Station.
For more information of the bus to Taichung, please click http://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english/Buses/#b55f75b9-e1b6-4bb0-ad8b-862193305554
This time, I choose to use the service of FREE GO BUS (the bus is not free like the name suggested, we need to buy the ticket) due to the last stop of this bus is Gancheng station and it is close to the parking and building of Nantou Bus. The uncle staff at FREE GO BUS counter is very lovely. Despite speaking little English, he tries to help me in every way he could. For example, I asked him whether I can buy a sim card at Taichung and he didn't know what to say. Then, he waved me to follow him to speak to another guy at the ticket counter in which he also gave me a good help. The uncle staff was afraid that I would get lost so he wrote in traditional Chinese on the paper and asked me to read after him. The paper wrote Nantou bus and Sun Moon Lake (I don't remember it clearly now). I haven't even gotten out of the airport but already experienced the hospitality and friendliness of Taiwanese, my heart is boosted to be so strong for this journey.
The uncle staff said that the bus 5503 which will be heading towards Taichung is parked at platform number 8, do not get on at platform number 9; otherwise we will go to Taipei instead of Taichung, haha. The rain stops now when coming outside. I hope that the Sun Moon Lake will not be raining too.
The bus is available at terminal 1 of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. When the bus leaves from terminal 1 (my bus leaves at 06.50 a.m.), it goes to pick up more passengers at terminal 2 and then we are all set to go for Taichung.
And then we arrive at Gancheng Station which is the terminal station of FREE GO BUS (Taichung). From here, we just walk backward few steps and we will reach Nantou bus office. It is indeed super close. After that, we are going to our destination, Sun Moon Lake Nantou.
The atmosphere inside the NANTOU BUS is quite packed. The bus also goes to pick up more passengers at High Speed Railway (HSR) TAICHUNG (I'm glad that I get on at the start; otherwise I will have to wait).
Traveling to the lake is in fact quite long. After several sleeps, we still haven't reached there. Finally, the bus arrives at the Shuishe Visitor Center. Here, I take my e-ticket in order to get the ferry ticket and go to several other piers. We can get the ticket at the machine (where the red flag is). Then, I'm searching for sim card before heading towards the accommodation.
Here is the Shuishe Visitor Center where the bus stopped.
For those who wish to buy a sim card at Sun Moon Lake, you can get it at Sun Moon Lake Post Office. Here, the sim card of Chungwha Telecom is available and it offers the same package as in the airport. The uncle staff also provides impressive services. For example, when I couldn't connect to the internet, he called to the staff for me to ask for the internet issue and he also helped me call to my accommodation to ask for direction. Thank you so much again to the Taiwanese hospitality, and this is not even a day yet. Then, I go to my accommodation to unpack my stuff.
Unfortunately, the staff at the accommodation said that I can check in only after 3 p.m.. So I just leave my luggage with them and go to Sun Moon Lake. On the way from the accommodation, I find the sign reads the way to Maolan Mountain Trail. Please let me know if you have experienced the trail. I think it's quite interesting, may be I will try it out on my next visit and write a review. My accommodation is also close to the Tea Research and Extension Station. It is very interesting, when I have time I will definitely pay a visit. Then, I walk to the Shuishe Pier with my milk tea bought from the airport.
This is the atmosphere at Shuishe Pier. The sun is up in the sky to signal a new day. I see these students are dancing or performing something. A bit pity on them as it looks hot. Some are sitting, some are standing and some are sleeping.
Small boat is out from SHUISHE PIER and heads towards XUANGUANG PIER.
Finally we arrive at Xuanguang Pier with a fully packed tourists. This is Monday, how come they are so many tourists? Then we walk up to the Xuanzang Temple which is located at Sun Moon Lake. It is a very old temple, built in honor to Xuanzang. It has the craved statues and map. I think the map signifies the route that the Xuanzang planned to announce the Tripitaka to the Indian subcontinent and neighboring areas. On the way up there, the Ama Eggs shop is very outstanding as there's many people there. It is the boil eggs with their skin on and many people waiting in line. It's like you must stop by here if you were coming to this area.
Continue walking up and we will reach the Xuanzang Temple. From here, we can pay respects to Buddha and sacred statue while watching the lake view.
This is the view overlooking from the way up to the Xuanzang Temple. The blue bright sky is contrasted to the light blue lake, it is just so beautiful and makes me happy so much. Thanks god that the sky is open today.
Then I walk to Ama Eggs. But when seeing this big crowd of people, I give up and move on to the Ita Thao Pier.
While waiting for the ferry, I take some shots at the Xuanguang Pier with a souvenir ticket in my hand. They said that the ferry will come in 10 minutes. Wherever we get off, the ferry will come pick us up at the exact same spot.
Finally, I arrive at the final pier of the Sun Moon Lake, the Ita Thao Pier. This pier has walking street and cable car. I arrive at 3 p.m. and the cable car is closed at 4 p.m. so I must hurry a bit now.
The atmosphere on the way to the cable car station that will give us the atop view. Our destination is the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
After keep walking, we will see this passage along the Sun Moon Lake as well as this building for getting on the cable car to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
The atmosphere on the other side of the building is not so crowded, it might have been because it's close to the closing time.
I sit alone in my cable car. It is not so long and we now arrive at the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. Let's also go pay a visit inside.
The atmosphere at the entrance to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is quite quiet as it's close to 4 p.m. now. Then I just wander to take more shots. But after a while I prepare to go down to Ita Thao as the weather is quite cold and the cable car will be closed at 4 p.m.. I didn't get to go inside the village as there will be additional fee.
During the ride back, I look around to see this shining twilight.
Once I reach the station below, the twilight is there, signaling that the day is about to end. Time flies so quickly.
Here is the Ita Thao Visitor Center. People are more here since there's a walking street and some prepare to go back to Shuishe Pier. The sky suddenly is darken, it seems the rain is coming soon so let's also hurry to Shuishe Pier.
The evening light that is about to say goodbye to the earth reminds me the poem of Jimmy Liao that reads:
"At a time when the whole world is without light, the kid and the moon are together climbing to the roof,
to deeply enjoy this amazing darkness where no one else come share this wonderful mystery.
It is such a great minutes....that the two are sharing in silence."
Of course, I will also take you to this story in Taipei (for my next review).
At the Shuishe Pier, the Taiwan or the Republic of China Flag gloriously waves in the evening while the silence is crawling in.
In the evening, the Shuishe Pier gives the quiet atmosphere which is very different from the crowded atmosphere in the afternoon. And now, it gets into the silent mode.
The atmosphere at the pier, now all shops start to close down while the night is approaching.
While I'm walking pass the Visitor Center, I also see the Nantou bus. Here is how the bus to Sun Moon Lake looks like. Then I arrive at my accommodation. I choose to stay at hostel because I come alone and I want to save money from here to enjoy food more, haha.
The night atmosphere at Shishe Visitor Center that is not so crowded and lively.
At Shuishe Pier at night, many people are out for photography and lights as well as chitchatting around under this cool weather. Then, let's find something to eat. I don't yet know what to eat so let's go to the convenient store, or the 7-11.
What should I eat? I wanted to eat some rice but how come I'm standing in front of this milk and coffee? Finally, I get this for my dinner (the below photo).
So here it is, my dinner at Sun Moon Lake today is the 55 TWD train bento. The price is similar to Thailand but it comes in big quantity. The chicken is so big that I'm definitely going to be full. After that, I go to bed as tomorrow I plan to have an early trip.
The morning atmosphere at Shuishe is peaceful with no people but you and me.
The sun gradually rises and starts to come over the mountain at the Sun Moon Lake. Then, I walk to rent a bicycle from the shop nearby the Shuishe Visitor Center. The rental fee is 100 TWD per day in which we need to give our Taiwanese cell phone number and show our passport. But I didn't remember my Taiwanese number, so I let the uncle keep my passport (everything must have its own way out right?)
The sun is completely out of the clouds and the cycling route is stretching far ahead.
The model of the day is this Giant bicycle. In the morning, when the light blue lake contrasts with the bright blue sky, together with the sunlight cut through the fog with a cool wind blowing is indeed another simple happiness.
Now, I have cycling close to the Xiangshan Visitor Center.
Finally, I arrive at the Xiangshan Visitor Center. Inside displays some sort of trees exhibition.
This is the atmosphere inside the Xiangshan Visitor Center. After wandering around, taking some photos, I'm continued on cycling.
After keep cycling, I see this passage stretching towards the lake. If we were standing back with a Jack and Rose posture, it would have been so cool.
Then I cycle to the end of the passage and return back. I just notice that the color in the lake is varied. It is very beautiful, ranging from the dark blue to the emerald green and dark green.
Well, at first I was thinking to continue cycling but I already booked the High Speed Railway (HSR) train ticket. If I keep having this slow life, I might miss the train. Then, I cycle back to the hostel. On the way back, I see this TAIWAN Go Biker sign and I truly realize that this country is really caring for the cycling lovers.
On the way back, I take my model to another angle. Now, there's more people during late morning. I recommend you to go cycling early morning, in addition to fresh air, people are also much less.
Then I cycle pass the rental shop, the uncle staff asked how's my cycling trip and he also told me the route that I can cycling (I understand some and didn't get some). Then I told him that I would like to cycling to the coffee shop and I will return the bicycle thereafter, hehe. I enjoy the coffee for a while and then get ready to go to Taichung.
Then I bike back to the hostel to check out and get the bus ticket back to Taichung at the counter. One way ticket is 190 TWD. This is the very same counter that we got our ferry ticket. After that, we just need to wait for the bus to come.
Shuishe Visitor Center
- It is the last stop that the bus to the Sun Moon Lake will stop.
- (Above photo) is the ticket counter to buy the bus ticket back to Taipei or Taichung and it is also the place to exchange for the ferry ticket.
Then the bus is heading towards Taichung and stop at the National Chi Nan University to pick up some more passengers. The atmosphere here is really great. It is located on the way to Puli and this university is near the Sun Moon Lake. The front of university is mountains, such a great weather here.
The view on the way from the lake to Taichung (I'm also not sure where is this place in Nantou or Taichung). Then we continue the ride until we reach HSR Taichung. For my first visit to Taiwan, I'm very impressed. Finally, I have collected some information in below links for my first episode review of Taiwan. Thank you so much for reading and please stay tuned for my next episodes.
Transportation information from the Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, and Taipei
1. From the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to other cities in Taiwan http://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english/Buses/
2. High Speed Railway (HSR) Taiwan ticket booking https://irs.thsrc.com.tw/IMINT?locale=en
3. The Sun Moon Lake http://www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw/English/
4. The e-ticket of the Sun Moon Lake http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-eticket.html
P.S. This ticket will give you the EASY CARD. Then, you will need to take the recipe in this card to exchange for the ferry ticket at the counter at the Shuishe Visitor Center. For the cable car, you can simply give the card to the staff at the entrance.
5. Sun Moon Lake PASS (Water, Land, and Air Tour) http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-package.html
6. The Nantou bus for those who wish to travel to the Sun Moon Lake, Cingjing Farm, and Xitou Monster Village http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-index.html#
Please do not ask me what it is. Please do not ask me why I go here. I always believe that every place must have its own unique attractions.You just need to open your mind to accept the new and wider world. You need to feel it for yourself in order to say whether it's good or bad. Let you alone to decide it and not somebody else or reviews. The Sun Moon Lake has its own unique beauty, depending on when you are traveling to and how the weather is on that day. If you were traveling on the clear sky day, it will shine its utmost beauty to you. But if you were traveling during the rainy season, heavy fog or the closed sky day, then this lake might also close the door of its beauty and hide inside instead. However, for my first trip to Taiwan, I would like to give my gratitude to Taiwan page admin and the uncle at Free Go Bus counter for helping me and the other auntie to unlock the seat belt as well as the great weather on the day I visited to the lake.