Thursday, February 17, 2011

Green Island, I serenade you!

(There is a wonderful folk song about Taiwan called Green Island Serenade. Lyrics here)

Here are my five must-sees in Taipei:

1) Yingge District: This is the ceramic-making center in Taiwan and where many local craftsmen come to sell their wares.  The pottery stores were incredible - there were so many beautiful pots that used material unique to the region.  It's a good thing most of those pots were too big for me to take home, or I would have spent all my money that first day!  I liked this area because you can find many handmade items - especially the clothes, which are unique in design and beautifully tailored - that don't feel like generic souvenirs.  The streets were also beautifully laid out and like many other market areas, there were a lot of food vendors selling meats and fruits (love fresh guava!) and candy.

my grand-aunt and I in front of the market

Yingge at dusk

 2)  Beitou Thermal Springs:  It is strange to find such a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.  I felt like I had walked into a haiku when I stepped off of the path and saw the springs in front of me.  The smell of sulphur is quite strong, but with the cool breeze that was blowing that day, I didn't mind it so much.
The area was actually built by the Japanese when they occupied Taiwan for them to bathe and soak in (the area used to be the red light district for soldiers), and it is still used today for the water's therapeutic and healing powers.  I wish we would have had time to enjoy the baths and the spa services.  The hotels were pretty much all booked up as it was the holiday season. 

Check out an article written last year by the NYT.

3)  BinHai Ocean Drive on the East side of the island:  This is like the highway 101 of Taiwan.  I am not sure if that is the official name of the road, but it is the main highway along the shore.  Along this shore you will find many different kinds of scenery along the shore - you've got the gorgeous cliffs and blue waters: 

view from Beito

but there are also fascinating land formations caused by erosion (Nanya Beach),
Nanya Beach
 great views of Turtle Island, 

it was foggy when we got to viewing place, but you can still see the shape

and some great fishing towns (we went to Wushi) where you can see the fishermen bringing in the fish and hawking them right along the harbour. 
fish market at Wushi

selling their wares at 3 pm

old wooden fishing boats - I can't even
imagine how old these are
We started our drive from Bitou and drove down to Jiaoxi (another town famous for hot springs and ginormous green onions - they put these green onions in everything!).

these green onions were at least 3 ft tall
The drive is doable in a day and I loved how I saw so many different sides of Taiwan.

4) Taipei Riverside Bike Trail:  I would highly recommend renting a bike and riding along all the bike trails.  I only did a little bit of it at night, so I don't have any pictures, but Taipei did an amazing job of building a beautiful bike path along the river that allows you to visit many places that you might not see by car. 

5) Yangmingshan:   This is probably one of the more famous national parks in Taiwan, and I have come here several times in the past, and each time I go I am amazed by the views from Mt. Datun - and also by the skills of the drivers as they maneuver up the mountain!  If you can time it, try to make it up to the highest peak on Mt. Datun when there is no fog.  You can see the city of Taipei to the river.  We couldn't avoid the fog, but the view was still incredible.  There is also a hot springs area in the park.

hot springs in the park - they are building
areas around it for people to relax in

view from Datun

glimmer of Taipei and the river

I was pretty impressed by the variety of things that you can see and do on such a tiny little island!  Next trip: central and southern Taiwan!

No comments:

Post a Comment