Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taiwan Backpacking Holidays

I am back. It is fun to be part of the 8-person team going for backpacking holidays in Taiwan for two weeks (11 to 25 April 2010). We traveled from north (Taipei) to south (Kaohsiung) via east coast railway line and back to north again via the famous Alishan National Forest Recreation Area and Sun-Moon Lake route. I wish I am 20 years younger to travel and see the world using this method... :-)

Posing next to a replica of Queen's Head, the symbol of Yehliu Geopark ... Hui Min, Su and Hui Mei

Please click here to view Part 1 of the photos taken by yours truly (KC)
Yours truly (KC) and the Queen's Head
At National Palace Museum ... Huey Ling, Su, Hui Min and Hui Mei

Though it is spring in Taiwan, the weather was cloudy and gloomy with limited hours of blue sky. Most of the time, it is cool, and occasionally, cold. At certain places, it was hot in the afternoon.
Night view of Tamshui Fisherman's Wharf

The tourist spots are scenic but not the city view that is typical of any established towns or cities. The Night Market in Taiwan is unique offering lots of delicious Taiwanese cuisine. So far, I did not notice any curry or spicy food.

The group is cycling to the beach while stoping at a junction

The people of Taiwan are courteous and very helpful. Mandarin is widely spoken. We feel safe walking at the streets of any towns.
Oh! What a feeling ... strong winds from Pacific Ocean

At the mountainous areas of Alishan, I was a bit disappointed not able to see the cherry in full bloom and also to meet the pretty Alishan girls, as sung in the famous song describing the mystic place and tribe people. Instead, I was greeted by the elderly and oversized tour agents and shop assistants ... :-) I enquired and the best time to see cherry blossom is from mid-February to mid-March.
Taroko Gorge

Staying in the budget hotel is cheap, clean, and comfortable. At around RM 30 per pax per night, the facilities include air-conditioned room, hot water bath, soap, towel, hot water, flat screen TV, etc.
Hui Min and Hui Mei

The public transport is clean, fast and on time. We travel to places by the spacious trains, public buses and high-speed trains.
Beach at Kenting, the southern tip of Taiwan

Will I go again? Yes, I shall organize a nature and trekking trip to Taiwan in three years time focusing only on Alishan mountains and Sun-Moon Lake for about one-week’s holidays. With a flight time of 4.5 hours (takeoff and touchdown) via Air AsiaX direct flight, it is indeed a must-go holiday destination.
Yours truly (KC) at left ... Chen Hock (at right)
Without any tour guide for the guided tour, backpacking trips require considerable amount of time to identify places of interest and read maps as to how to arrive at the destinations. We constantly have to ask the local people where or how to go. So when we asked for direction, we address them as "lao xiong" (old buddy) or "da ker" (big brother). The word "lao" (old) does give some hesitation to the person who was addressed (the guy may be thinking: am I that old?). Nevertheless, the 'da ker' gives more motivated responses.

Hui Mei, Hui Min, Su and Huey Ling

Group photo taken at Kenting National Park, the southern tip of Taiwan Island.
(L-R): Back: KC, Chun Lian, Chen Hock
Middle: Su, Hui Min, Hui Mei, Huey Ling
Front: Donny

At Love River @ Kaohsiung
According to Taiwan's Tourism Bureau, there are countless places to see in Taiwan. But the following eight sites are among the best to experience the island's natural and cultural charms. Out of the 8 places, we managed to visit 7.

At Fo Kuan San
Top-8 Sites are:
1. National Palace Museum
2. Taipei 101 Building
3. Sun Moon Lake
4. Taroko Gorge
5. Alishan
6. Love River in Kaohsiung
7. Kenting (pristine beaches)
8. Yushan (Jade Mountain) - Did not manage to visit.

Arriving at Alishan ... at 14 degree Celsius.
To be continued ... click here for part 2
Posted by KC

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