Category Archives: Day Tripper

Every Dog Has Its Day

Have I mentioned that I love dogs? Well, I do, and this week I am going to fill you in on two awesome places that you can bring your dogs for the day in Taoyuan County.

The first is called 綠風草原, and it’s located in Zhongli. You’ll need to take a car there, because its pretty far from any form of public transportation, though you could take a taxi. This place used to be a golf course, but has since been re-purposed into a dog park, though its pretty obvious what it was originally intended to be. The scenery is so beautiful, with trees dotting the walkways and grassy hills surrounding the pond(which must have originally been the water hazard!) your pooch is going to think he’s died and gone to doggy heaven. It’s a popular place on the weekend, so get there early to ensure that you get a good spot, and watch your worries melt away. Make sure you bring a sheet or towel to sit on, as the grass can be quite damp, and why not enjoy a picnic while you’re at it? The entry fee is 150 NT and this can be used towards purchasing food or drinks, though I recommend you bring your own snacks as the food is pricey and not very good.
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(In these pictures you can clearly see the park’s golf course roots!)
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(When I went there were ducks in the pond, and then there were these great big inflatable ducks. Looks like the management decided to cash in on the recent duck-craze that has gotten ahold of Taiwan.)
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(The dogs absolutely love this place!)
The other place is called 老爸的後花園 Located in Longtan, you are going to need your own wheels to make it there, but it’s worth it! The feel is a lot different from 綠風草原. As you enter the garden and follow the vine-covered walkway to the brick-house restaurant, it feels like you are going to pay a visit to a rich family at their country-side estate. The whole place is surrounded by trees and gardens, and it feels like you’re in a small forest, especially for Taiwan (having a large yard is very rare here). The restaurant is beautiful and has a relaxing atmosphere, and oddly you will see dogs freely roaming around indoors. The food is not great here either(though the dessert was quite delicious), but that wasn’t really why we went there. The garden outside is awesome, and your dogs will love it. We went on a Tuesday, so there weren’t a lot of other people there, but I’ve been told it is another story altogether on the weekend. It’s fun to chat with the other guests and see their dogs too anyway!
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(The restaurant it beautiful, but the food wasn’t great…good thing I brought a snack!)
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(We had a lot of fun with the dogs in the garden. The poster is about supporting animal adoption, something that I hope you will consider after reading this!)
I highly recommend making it over to either of these spots at least once (even of you don’t have a dog, you can play with the ones you see there!). Let me know what you think if you make it over to one of them, and share your experiences here!
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How To Get There:
綠風草原– Here is a link to their website, it’s in Chinese, but there is a map.
老爸的後花園- Here is their Facebook page with contact information.

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Chinese phrases of the day:

綠風草原= Green Breeze Prairie

老爸的後花園= Dad’s Backyard Garden

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No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 3 獅頭山

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If you missed it, check out the first two posts in this three-part series here and here! And now, for the grand finale…
On Sunday I went with a group of friends to go exploring in shī tóu shān 獅頭山, Lion-Head Mountain. The mountain park is huge and borders both Xinzhu and Miaoli Counties. Just as any good adventure, we went in with only a vague idea of what we were doing and where we would end up, and as usual, Taiwan did not disappoint.
The most challenging part of the day was getting to 獅頭山, which isn’t easy if you don’t have a car, but it is manageable. We took a shuttle-bus from Zhongli to the Taoyuan HSR station and bought our tickets. Honestly, this was part of the fun of the trip in itself, as I had never been on the HSR (High-speed rail) in all of my time in Taiwan. We didn’t get seats, and surprisingly had to stand, which I would have thought was not allowed, but I’m not going to complain as it was just a ten minute train ride to the Xinzhu HSR station(the normal train is around an hour). From the HSR station, we went and hopped on a shuttle-bus to the 獅頭山 visitors’ center. The tickets ran us 100NT a person and included round-trip fare(though be careful, the last bus back is at 6pm).
Once in the park, we visited the visitors’ and got maps of the local attractions, then we hit the trails!
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(Check in at the visitors’ center to get a map)
It was a surprisingly hot day, but luckily I had sunscreen this time. The hike up the main trail was not very difficult, though it was pretty steep. It took us well under an hour to climb. Along the way were tons of smaller side-trails and temples, but we didn’t check them out this time, as we had thought we would see them on the way back, but plans have a way of changing. More to explore next time!
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(on the way up)
At one point at the top of the trail, you have an awesome view of the mountains and a giant Buddha in the distance. And then you head down a trail, into the jungle and towards the mountain’s main attraction.
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(You can just make out the giant Buddha in the distance…grab a hiking stick if you need one, you’re not there yet!)
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(Descend through the jungle, and you will be well rewarded!)
After hiking through the peaceful forest trail, you come out into a clearing where you find yourself dwarfed by the area’s huge temple, which is carved out of the face of a cliff. This place has such an incredible view of the surrounding mountains, and it’s unreal to think about the manpower and dedication that went into building it.
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(Go ahead, soak-up the view!)
We rested at the top and enjoyed the view for a bit, then we went into the temple and burned incense and I explained some of the traditional religious practices to my friends before we left.
We headed down to the lower levels and were pleasantly surprised to see a group of musicians playing traditional music in a pagoda by the cliff-edge, as well as a store selling many traditional items, such as paper money for burnt-offerings and intricately detailed folded-paper dragons and boats for the same purpose.
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(A good chance to take a look at the traditional side of Chinese culture)
By this time we were hungry, so we followed the signs to the temple’s restaurant. The meal was delicious and inexpensive, only costing us 600NT for five people. And the food was vegetarian, naturally, as we were in a temple! There are also rooms available for travelers who want to stay the night and watch the sunset in the majestic mountains.
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(You’ll be hungry when you make it up here!)
Wile we were up-top, we spotted a giant Buddha statue in the distance and decided that we wanted to get a closer look.
We hiked down to the road level and found a bus to the 獅頭山 visitors’ center, then took two other buses to get to Emei Lake é méi hú 峨眉湖, the home of the giant Maitreya Buddha.
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(A view of the temple from down below, the bus stop is down here)
It was difficult getting there without a car, and in hindsight I think that a cab ride would have been far more practical, but that’s what made it an adventure!
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(Nice country roads the bus will take you down as you go to Emei Lake)
Unfortunately you are not allowed to go into the enclosure where the Buddha stands unless in a tour group, and there weren’t any when we were there. The Buddha easily dwarfs the nearby building, which is massive in its own right, and there are lots of other impressive sculptures in the surrounding area, but they pale in comparison.
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(That’s one big Buddha!)
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(The sign above the entrance says “the world is one family”…that includes pigs too!)
The area surrounding the Buddha was originally built as a reservoir, though it is no longer used as such, and there is a nice trail which you can follow around the lake and across a suspension bridge, though it was under renovation when we were there so we couldn’t take a closer look. Still, it was worth the trip to see a Buddha statue that is taller than the Statue of Liberty!
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(The world is in the palm of his hand)
Check out the rest of the pictures here!
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How To Get There:
Lion-Head Mountain- The easiest way to get here is by car, but you can also take a bus from the Xinzhu HSR station directly.
Emei Lake- It’s tricky getting here without transportation, I suggest taking a bus from the Lion-Head Mountain visitors’ center and then switching buses, or take a taxi
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Chinese phrases of the day:
獅頭山= Lion-Head Mountain
峨眉湖= Emei Lake
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Double Down! 雙十節

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Last Thursday  was guó qìng jié 國慶節 Taiwan’s Independence Day, also known as shuāng shí jié 雙十節 Double Ten Day because it is celebrated on October tenth, 10/10. Besides the holiday though, there is another reason that this was a special day for Ruby and I. It was our four-year anniversary nián jì niàn 年紀念! She’s the love of my life; she’s beautiful and she can put-up with my terrible jokes and childish antics. What more could a guy ask for?

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(She’s my pride and joy!)

So, to celebrate we did something we haven’t done in a while and we decided to take a day trip to one of the island’s many scenic mountain areas…Nanzhuang.

To get there we took a train to Zhunan and then took a shuttle bus over to the Nanzhuang old street in the mountains of Miaoli county. The bus station is directly across the street from the train station and opposite from the 7-11. The tickets ran us 100NT per person and gave us day passes to take the bus to three destinations: nán zhuāng lăo jiē 南庄老街 Nanzhuang old street, xiàng tiān hú 向天湖 Xiangtian lake, and xiān shān 仙山 Xian Mountain. What a bargain!
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(Here I am, at the Zhunan train station)
The bus ride to Nanzhuang took about 40 minutes, and when we got there we checked out the visitors’ center which had a lot of information on the surrounding tourist spots, as well as a little about the local aboriginal tribes yuán zhù míng de bù luò 原著名的部落 and their history. We chatted with the staff to find our next bus, which was just out front, and we headed out to the aboriginal village and culture center at Xiantian lake.
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(This is where the bus drops you off, it’s also where you can catch a bus to the local attractions, or back to Zhunan station)
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(Here’s a map of the bus route and the local sights, but also make sure to grab a copy from the information center)
The bus ride to the village was worth the trip alone to catch a glimpse of the scenery as we slowly snaked our way up the mountain road. It was like we were in another country, or world.
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(It is just amazing up there in the mountains!)
When you enter the village there are several stands where you can get some aboriginal snacks, such as wild-boar sausage and mă gào dàn 馬告蛋, eggs marinated in mă gào 馬告, a really fragrant type of seeds that the local sài xià zú 賽夏族 Saisiyat tribe uses for seasoning many of their dishes.
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(This stuff tastes so good, I had to learn the secret recipe!)
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(And here it is! 馬告!)
I have a feeling that they don’t get many foreign visitors, as one young aboriginal girl kept marveling over my hair, asking me why it wasn’t black and if I had dyed it. I am used to this kind of stuff, especially as I live in a county area, though not to this extreme.  This just multiplied the feeling that, even though people were speaking Mandarin and there were plenty of Taiwanese tourists around us, we were no longer in Taiwan!
Another thing that the aboriginal people in this area are famous for is honey, and you could see lots of beehives with swarms of bees, placated by the strongly scented smoke that was burning by their homes.
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(There were lots of bee-keepers and people selling honey in the village)
As we went through the village and looked through the different stalls, we eventually came to the lake which this place was named after. It was a beautiful lake, and there was a tree-shrouded path that led around it. It was a relaxing hike, and any direction that you looked you had beautiful scenery popping out at you, be it the lake itself, the flowers and trees, or the gorgeous mountain backdrop that overshadowed it all. It was fantastic!
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(The walk around the lake is a great escape)
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(Just taking in the natural beauty)
When we had made our way around the lake, we came to an aboriginal culture center which displayed a lot of beautiful handmade artifacts that the Saisiyat people had used to do anything from carrying children to farming. Practically everything was woven from grass or made from bamboo, and the craftsmanship was impressive. There was even a traditional bamboo house with many artifacts on display for viewing, though, unfortunately, taking photographs was not allowed in the museum.
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(The aboriginal culture center is definitely worth a visit)
One interesting display described the tribes origins, and the myth surrounding how their people came to be in that area.
After finishing up I’m the village, we waited for the bus and headed to the nearby Donghe suspension bridge dōng hé diào qiáo 東河吊橋. The bridge is massive and it is quite thrilling(and a little scary) when it wobbles and springs up and down as you cross. The view of the river below was just awesome from the middle, and on the other side was the head of a promising hiking trail.
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(You’re not supposed to run on these things, but I was too excited to see the view!)
After hiking a ways up, however, we realized it just led to some lucky people’s homes. Though I bet there is a trail if you continue on back there,  we chose to turn back and catch the bus back into Nanzhuang.
While we waited for the bus, we walked around the area and took a look at a few interesting pieces of aboriginal art, and perused a gift shop where the local people sold their handmade bamboo crafts. The homes in the area were beautiful and the people were very friendly, and I really envy them their beautiful mountain home, but it was time for us to head back into the hubbub of modern civilization.
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(We didn’t get to take photos in the museum, but there was plenty to photo here!)
By the time we got back to the old street, we were starving and immediately got in line at the first stand we saw.
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(They sell the best huā shēng bīng qí lín juăn bĭng 花生冰淇淋捲餅 I have ever had!)
The entrance to the old street is really narrow, but it opens up a bit as you get further inside. Besides the usual snacks, there was one particularly famous stand selling the local specialty, guì huā fĕn yuán bīng 桂花粉圓冰.
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(The local specialty. Make sure to bring home a jar of 桂花 jam to spread on your toast!)
After refueling we found ourselves at the back of the old street, where there was a gigantic temple and a 100 year old post office from the Japanese occupation period. There was also an old school (the sign said 100 years old, though it looks like its been rebuilt) and a 100 year old stone pathway leading down to the street below. This place is old!
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(Taking a break on the temple’s steps)
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(Here we are at the 100 year old post office!)
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(Here’s the old school…)
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(And an even older tree!)
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(This path is over a hundred years old too!)
Unfortunately it was getting dark, so we didn’t have time to go out to Xian Mountain, but I don’t mind. It just gives us a reason to go back! Before heading back, we checked out one last suspension bridge in the surrounding area, and then used our day passes to head back to the train station. It was a great day, and I slept like a baby on the way home. Who knew having fun took so much energy?
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(Taking one last photo in front of the visitors’ center before leaving)
Check out the rest of the photos here!
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How To Get There:
Nanzhuang old street: To get there take a train to Zhunan and then take a shuttle bus over to the Nanzhuang old street. From there you can use your day pass to take busses to the various local attractions. Also, If you stay in a hostel in Nanzhuang, your day pass can be validated for a second day.
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Chinese phrases of the day:
國慶節= National Day
雙十節= Double Ten Day
年紀念= anniversary
南庄老街= Nanzhuang old street
向天湖= Xiangtian lake
仙山= Xian Mountain
原著名的部落= Aboriginal tribe(s)
馬告= a seed that the Saisiyat people use for seasoning their food
賽夏族= the Saisiyat tribe
東河吊橋= Donghe suspension bridge
桂花粉圓冰= an iced desert consisting of chevy balls of cooked flour and covered with osmanthus jelly
花生冰淇淋捲餅= a ice cream wrap with peanut powder
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No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 2 七星山

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This past Thursday, I went to Yangming Mountain Park with a few friends. This place is huge, the air is fresh and the scenery is beautiful. There are tons of hiking trails, hot springs and scenery to take in, and it’s also a famous place to go to see Taiwan’s national flower, the beautiful plum-blossom méi huā 梅花, and many others when they bloom in the spring.

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(Ruby and I with some beautiful plum blossoms…not at Yangming Mountain Park though!)

But we didn’t wake-up at 5AM to take the train from Zhongli to Taipei just to see a bunch of flowers! Our mission was hiking to the tallest peak in the park, qī xīng shān 七星山 Seven-Star Mountain.

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(A shot of the train station in the early morning)

 

We took the hóng 紅15 bus from MRT Jiantan Station which goes directly to the trail head. On my previous visit, I had taken bus number 260 from Taipei Main Station and switched busses at the Yangming Mountain Park visitors’ center. Either way will work fine, depending on your plans.

 

This was my first time taking a bus directly to 七星山 though, and like any good adventure, it was a little chaotic. When we got off the bus, the sky looked really gloomy, and before we had figured out where the trail was, it started raining heavily. Luckily we were right next to a free wēn quán 溫泉 hot spring, and we were faced with a choice. We could either climb-up into the mountains in the pouring rain and freeze our butts off, or we could soak in the hot spring for a bit and wait the weather out. Easy choice, only there was an unexpected surprise…
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(The hot spring from out front)
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(The hot spring is on the other side…a naked hot spring. I had no idea it was going to be this kind of party!)

 

After relaxing in the hot spring, we decided to figure out where to go and asked around a bit. Eventually we took a bus back to the visitors center and got on another bus to take us to the trail head. We got off at the deceptively named 七星山 stop, which was nowhere near the mountain, and we had to walk for a bit before coming to the trail.

 

I had done this hike a few years earlier in the hottest part of the summer with my fiancé, Ruby, but it was a totally different animal this time. Hiking in the summer’s heat made it a lot more difficult and exhausting, but this time it felt rather easy and it only took about an hour-and-a-half up and down, whereas it had probably taken around three hours total the last time. As you climb up, you can see tons of sulfur deposits and it feels like you’ve traveled to another planet.
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(This sign talks about the volcanoes in the area which we owe the hotsprings to!)
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(A few pictures of the misty mountain)

 

I had wanted to make this hike again because the last time I was there, my camera’s batteries died when I got to the peak, and I was hoping to take a few pictures of the scenery from the top this time. Nature was conspiring against me, however, as the higher we went the foggier it got. we could barely see anything. And after a while the wind picked up and I felt like I was going to be blown away!
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(They were building a new rest area and had left all of the tools out. This is when the wind picked up!)
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(Here I am at the top. Couldn’t really see much that day)

 

After hanging out at the top for a bit, we made our way back down the other side of the mountain and checked out the other peak. The scenery was spectacular and it was a fairly easy hike down. Embarrassingly, the trail ended just by the Lengshuikeng hot spring where we had started off at!
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(Soaking our feet in the hot spring water)  

 

Unfortunately the hot spring was closed for cleaning, though we soaked our feet in a natural hot spring pool just out front. It was cold, windy and we were hungry, but it was another amazing day in Taiwan.
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Check out the rest of the pictures here!
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How To Get There:
Yangming Mountain Park- Take bus number 260 from Taipei Main Station (outside the South exit)
七星山– Take the bus at the Yangming Mountain Park visitor’s center, or alternatively take the 紅15 from MRT Jiantan station
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Chinese phrases of the day:
梅花= plum blossom(s)
七星山= Seven-Star Mountain
溫泉= hot spring(s)
= red
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No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 1

This past week was action-packed, with pirates and buried treasure around every corner…not really, but I got to go hike some awesome trails, some that I have been to before and others that were totally new to me. Now, first on the list in this three-part series is….

Wuliaojian wŭ liáo jiān 五寮尖

On Tuesday I went to Wuliaojian 五寮尖, which is in the mountains between Sanxia and Wulai in xīn bĕi shì 新北市 New Taipei City. The best way to get here is by car or scooter, but there is public transportation as well. You can take a bus to Sanxia and then transfer number 807 from Sanxia.

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The path starts at hé zuò qiáo 合作橋 along the side of Highway 7. Just as a lot of the best hikes in Taiwan, the trail starts at an unassuming and utterly random stone-stairway sticking out of the side of the mountain. If you didn’t know it was there, you would drive by without even noticing it. Well, now you know, so what’s your excuse?

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(That’s a view of the ridge we were just on from the top)

There are lots of paths around the mountain that all end up eventually taking you to the same destination, though the level of difficulty varies. Either way, allow at least 3-4 hours to finish the hike and bring plenty of water (foolishly, I only brought one tiny bottle and was getting thirsty towards the end). And if you’re a pale-skinned freak-of-nature like I am, do yourself a favor and bring sunscreen! I forgot to, and I am as red as a Maine lobster as I am typing this! Plus if you plan to go swimming, a swimsuit and a change of clothes wouldn’t go amiss, though I didn’t have either.

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(We had to scale down this huge cliff wall)
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(Now you see me…)
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(Now you don’t!)
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(Just check out the view from the top! This is Taiwan!)
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(Who wouldn’t want to take a dip after a long, sweaty hike? The water was cold and refreshing!)

All of that aside, you’re in for a challenging hike which you’ll be rewarded for with a ton of gorgeous scenery and an experience you won’t soon forget, but I wouldn’t advise beginners to try it until they get a little experience under their belts, and it’s a good idea to go with a friend regardless of your skill level.

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(Have fun and stay safe out there!)

Check out the rest of my photos here!
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How To Get There:

Wuliaojian 五寮尖– It’s difficult to get here if you don’t have a scooter or a car, but it’s doable. First take a bus to Sanxia and then transfer to bus number 807. Tell the driver where you are going and he should tell you when to get off. The bus stop is called Hezuo Bridge 合作橋.

The swimming spot- It’s just a few minutes down the road from the trail head on the left. Go slow, it’s easy to miss. You can get down into the river from the other side of the bridge by taking the stairs next to the temple.

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五寮尖= Wuliaojian hiking trail
新北市= New Taipei City
合作橋= Hezuo Bridge…”Cooperation Bridge” is a true translation, but that sounds better in Chinese, right?
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Hiking Through History and Daxi Old Street

Now, I know not everyone is a huge history fan,  but I for one enjoy seeing historical places and learning the story behind them. If you want to learn more about Ancient China, or just see some cool artifacts, then I’d say The National Palace Museum gù gōng 故宮 is the place for you. I’ve been there four times and have enjoyed the displays thoroughly each time. Personally, though, I like the outdoors and today I have an awesome place to tell you about, where you can not only glean some insight into Taiwan’s past, but you can enjoy some beautiful scenery and an invigorating  hike too if that’s your thing.

The mausoleum of jiăng jīng guó 蔣經國 Chiang Ching-Kuo, the son of jiăng zhōng zhèng 蔣中正 Chiang Kai-Shek rests in the mountains between dà xī 大溪 Daxi and fù xìng 富興 Fuxing. The grounds housing the former leader’s body was once used by the president to house information, and the one room you are able to look into shows the office where 蔣經國 used to sit at his table and make the big decisions that drove the country. At the far side of the structure lies the body of 蔣經國, and visitors are expected to pay their respects. 蔣經國 was a popular leader and many Taiwanese people visit his burial place to bài bài 拜拜(if you don’t know what this is, check out my recent post 拜拜! Zhen Qing Temple).
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(The Entrance to the mausoleum and those aren’t statues! If you are lucky, you can see the changing of the guard here)
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(Chiang Ching-Kuo’s office)
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(Pay your respects, and follow the arrow, or else!)
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(Across from the mausoleum is a visitors’ center with a lot of cool historical information on Chiangs, and parked beside it are the father and son’s personal ambulances)
Not far from the mausoleum is another interesting attraction. cí hú 慈湖 Cihu park is beautiful and offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains and lake, but the most interesting attraction, and the reason many people go there are the plethora of towering, multi-colored statues of 蔣中正 scattered around the park grounds. Pick your favorite pose and take a picture with Mr. President!
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(No autographs, but a picture with the president is always good!)
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(The beautiful park and the many faces of Chiang Kai-Shek)
On the other side of the park is a trail that leads up into white-rock mountain bái shí shān 白石山 mountain, it’s a great place to go for a hike and to escape from humanity for a while.
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(Not far up the path is this cozy cottage, so no need to bring a tent!)
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(Follow the path further into the mountains and you will be rewarded with some awesome views)
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(Cross the bridge and step into another world)
After you’re finished up, head on over to Daxi Old Street 大溪老街 for dinner. Daxi is famous for its dried-tofu dòu gān 豆干 and stinky-tofu chòu dòu fŭ 臭豆腐, but like any of Taiwan’s old streets, there are also a lot of cool traditional things to see, and the cobbled-streets and old architecture, along with the beautiful park and view of the surrounding mountains make it a wonderful place to spend an entire day, though be warned: it is absolutely jam-packed with tourists on the weekends.
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(Time to refuel)
There you have it, a day trip that offers something for everyone, so what are you waiting for? Get out there and have an adventure!
Take a look at more of my pictures here
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How To Get There:
The mausoleum of Chiang Ching-Kuo- Going by car or scooter is best, but you can also take the bus from Daxi to Fuxing and stop at the mausoleum
Cihu park- Just a little further down the road from the mausoleum, you can walk there if you took a bus
白石山 White-rock mountain(There are no English signs)- The trail head is just on the other side of Cihu park
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Chinese phrases of the day:
故宮– The National Palace Museum
蔣經國– Chiang Ching-Kuo
蔣中正– Chiang Kai-Shek
大溪– Daxi
富興– Fuxing
慈湖– Cihu
白石山– White-Rock Mountain
豆干– dried tofu
臭豆腐– stinky tofu
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Ximen Ding and the Lin Family Mansion and Gardens

Last Wednesday, Ruby and I went to the Red House in Ximen Ding(at the next stop from Taipei on the blue line), home of the first and largest art market in Taipei, open every Saturday and Sunday as well as holidays. A website wanted to interview her about her handmade clothing brand, M+T Design (check out her Facebook page here) and we took the opportunity to have a snack and walk around the Ximen xī mén 西門(literally “West gate”) area.

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(With my parents the last time they came to visit me in Taiwan)

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(This restaurant is really famous for their dà cháng miàn xiàn大腸麵線)

I really like this part of Taipei, and with all the bright lights and trendy fashion outlets, the street performers(I’ve seen tons of musicians, break dancers and even fire eaters here) and tons of nice restaurants, department stores and movie theaters, I always describe it to my friends and family as the Times Square of Taipei. Located in the Wenhua District, the area is filled with historic sites and lots of beautiful temples, notably Long Shan Temple lóng shān sì 龍山寺. It’s well worth a visit, and I’ll be blogging about lots of these places in the future.

After we finished up in Ximen, we headed back to the MRT and rode the next train to Fuzhong Station in Banqiao city. We took exit 3 and followed the signs to the Lin Family Mansion and Gardens lín jiā huā yuán 林家花園, which was only about a ten minute walk from the MRT station.

This place is huge and really beautiful. There is a plaque out front with some historical information about the Lin family and the building of their home, which cost more than the construction of early Taipei City! Make sure you have a few hours of free time on your hands when you go, as there is a lot to see and explore here.

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(Just follow the signs)

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(The gate to the family residence, the doors are painted red, as red is a lucky color that is associated with prosperity and wealth in Chinese culture, and the handles are made to depict the bā guà 八卦, an ancient Chinese divination tool)

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(The path to the garden and a shot of the Lin family’s sān hé yuàn 三合院, traditional three-house courtyard)

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(Just a few of the pictures I took around the estates…this place is massive and I took hundreds of photos, so it was really hard to choose!)

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(This is a really old tree. If you look closely, you can see that it grew-up around another tree) 

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(This is a jìng zì tíng 敬字亭, a kind of monument to words, and they often have special meanings written on them along with poetry)

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(They also have a pretty cool gift shop, it’s free admittance so they have to bring in some money somehow, right? So what are you waiting for? See you there!)

On the way back, you can check out a local traditional market, and there is also a rather larger temple dedicated to mā zŭ 媽祖, the goddess of the ocean, right across from the MRT station which is worth a visit.

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(The local traditional market)

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(At the temple dedicated to 媽祖)

To end the day, we did something decidedly un-Chinese…we had McDonald’s! But it was good!

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(Yum!)

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How To Get There:

Ximen Ding-Take the MRT to the next stop from Taipei on the blue line, called Ximen 西門.
Lin Family Mansion and Gardens- Take the MRT from Ximen to Fuzhong 府中, take exit three and follow the signs. The temple and traditional market are across from the MRT, nearby the McDonald’s.

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Chinese phrases of the day:

西門= literally “west-gate” a trendy shopping area in Taipei

大腸麵線= pig-intestine noodles

龍山寺= Longshan Temple, the name literally translates as “Dragon Mountain Temple”

林家花園= Lin Family Garden

八卦= an ancient Chinese divination tool

三合院= traditional three-house courtyard

敬字亭= a monument to the respect of words

媽祖= Goddess of the ocean

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