Explorations

In the last couple of months, we had a few opportunities to explore Taiwan a little bit. We took two short weekend trips to Taipei to meet up with friends visiting from Thailand and on our way back from Wulai.

Taipei is a fabulous city, full of good eats, cultural events, and other sights. When we went to meet with our friends, we attended the World Music Festival together. While we were there for only one of the three nights the event was held, we were able to see several acts, including an amazing one from Africa, one from Ireland, and one from Taiwan. It was fun and had great energy.

Prior to our friends’ arrival in Taipei, my husband and I visited the National Museum of History there. It has a collection of beautiful artifacts that are centuries old, as well as a cafe overlooking the Taipei Botanical garden that provides a quiet spot to relax.

Our Thanksgiving break was spent in Wulai with friends who are also new to Taiwan and teach with my husband. An aboriginal village, Wulai is tucked away in the mountains south of Taipei.

To get there, we took a bus from Xindian MRT station in Taipei. It wound through the mountain roads at breakneck speed, which made for a terrifying ride. Wulai is worth the roller-coaster ride there, though. It is lush and has hiking trails, a waterfall, forest, and natural hot springs. The view is breathtaking, the food is amazing, and the fresh air cleansing.

We stayed at a spa that offers public baths, but we had our own private hot tub that pumped in natural spring water. It was fantastic to be able to return to our room at the end of the day and soak in it.

During our stay, we explored the town and Wulai Old Street, which is full of vendors selling souvenirs, drinks, and food. We bought a couple of bottles of wine to enjoy with our friends each night, and tried some local cuisine, such as stir-fried flowers. We visited the Atayal museum about the Atayal people and their culture. We took the little log cart to the bottom of the 80-meter waterfall, which was breathtaking. There’s also a cable car that takes you to the top of the waterfall and gives you access to Yun Hsien Resort, an amusement park of sorts.

At the bottom of the waterfall is a street with more vendors and restaurants. There also is a tram museum that backs up to the waterfall and gets you very close to it. We took the cable car to the top of the waterfall. From there, there are trails that take you  up to Yun Hsien Resort. The walk took a while, but the view became more breathtaking with each step. The day we were there, it rained on and off all day, so we didn’t take advantage of the amusement park, but the hike was well worth it.

On our way back home, we spent another half day in Taipei. We visited the National Palace Museum, where there is currently an exhibit of Egyptian mummies on loan from the British Museum. My husband and I had seen a similar exhibit at the British Museum many years ago, but we wanted our son to experience it. It was very well done and very interesting. We all enjoyed it immensely.

Afterwards, we went to dinner at a beef noodle shop located in an alleyway near the Xindian MRT station. The food was heavenly and the hot soup perfect for a cool, drizzly day.

Last month, we took a day trip to Qiaotou, a rural district of Kaohsiung. It is the location of the Taiwan Sugar Museum, which is interesting and creepy. We strolled through the town, enjoying the vendors and stalls along its quaint streets. The park where the sugar museum is located also has beautiful gardens with vibrantly colored flowers and an old train for kids to climb on and explore. We also enjoyed the colonial-era architecture of the sugar museum buildings. Overall, it was a pleasant visit to a quaint and charming town, perfect for a short trip.

Closer to home, we’ve also visited the Love River in Kaohsiung. We took a tour along the river on one of the short cruises offered. The buildings and monuments were lit up the city and reminded me of the holiday lights back home.

Exploring Taiwan has made me realize that Taiwan has a lot to offer. We look forward to seeing more of Taiwan when we have the time.

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