Trip up North 2017

Earlier this year we bought a drone. What to do with a drone…:-)? Aric came with a plan: take drone videos of all the fishing villages in Peninsular Malaysia and combine them into a documentary. An ambitious project..:-)

The plan was to start in Kuala Perlis, near the Thai border. Quite far from KL, about 500 km, we decided to drive first to Ipoh, stay overnight in the Ipoh Bali hotel and meet a friend for dinner.

We had stayed before in the Ipoh Bali hotel and liked the place. Your own private balcony, where you can feed the koi fish, a nice breakfast, pleasant atmosphere.

In the evening we met our friend and had dinner with him. Of course the Ipoh specialty, chicken hor fun with taugeh…:-) The restaurant he had in mind was closed, so we went to Ong Kee , also very good and less touristy than Lou Wong, opposite the street

The next morning we left early, still 300 km to go. We had left KL with nice weather, but now the skies became dark, and soon heavy rain started, which did not stop. No way you can drone when it is raining. Was the monsoon starting already? Only the next day we read in the news that the downpour was related to the typhoon Doksuri, that had hit VIetnam!

We arrived in Kuala Perlis for a lunch with Assam Laksa. Malay style, not bad.

Here is the quite attractive mosque of Kuala Perlis.

Our plan was to start taking drone videos here, then slowly go down south, visit a few more fishing villages and stay overnight, halfway to Penang. The heavy rain messed things up. We waited for quite a while, but the rain continued, with strong winds.

Finally, a bit disappointed, we decided to stay overnight in Kuala Perlis. A good decision because around 6 pm finally the rain stopped and the wind became less strong.

While Aric was starting his drone, I walked to the lookout tower, from where I had a nice view of the mosque.

Here is a drone view from the village. We were happy that we could at last have one drone result after our long drive…:-). Note the pedestrian bridge, crossing the Perlis river.

We walked to this bridge and found a large crowd there, watching longboat races. Very interesting, actually they were training for the Perlis Water festival in November

In February 2016 we had also made a Trip up North and we had enjoyed the food at the Hat Thien restaurant in Kuala Perlis so much that we went back there for our dinner. Good decision.

After our dinner we walked back to our hotel. It was dry, no wind, we were optimistic about the weather the next day.  Kuala Perlis is well known for its horseshoe crabs. Next visit we must try them.

We woke up the next day not by the sun shining in our room, but by rain pounding the windows. Bad luck. Useless to visit fishing villages…:-(

Instead we decided to have a look at the one and only waterfall in Perlis, north of Kangar. It had been one of the main targets of  our 2016 trip up North. It is a seasonal waterfall and during that trip there was no water at all. We expected that it would be different now, and we were right. Quite impressive.

For comparison.  The left picture shows the situation in 2106, nice flowstone but no water. The right picture has been taken from roughly the same angle. What a difference.

We decided to drive back to Penang. On our way we passed one of the fishing villages, Simpang Ampat, the rain did not stop. Scenic views of the paddy fields, but look at the dark clouds.

It is really a small village, finally we found the only coffee shop, where we had a drink and some food. The cat is hoping for some leftovers, Aric is hoping that the rain will stop

We knew that the situation in Penang that morning was chaotic, flooding, landslides, cars floating in the water, and when we crossed the bridge, the situation looked quite threatening.

We decided to try our luck and go to Balik Pulau for its famous assam laksa.

Balik Pulau is on the West side of Penang, you have to cross the hills on a winding road. There had been a few minor landslides, but the road was not blocked.

Still heavy rain in Balik Pulau, but the assam laksa was nice.

We expected a traffic jam on our way to our hotel in Georgetown, but actually there was not a lot of traffic, probably many Penangites had stayed at home that day.

We had booked accommodation in the Chulia Heritage hotel . The outside and the lobby look nice, a traditional Chinese hotel, but probably during renovation they have split the huge hotel rooms into smaller units. Still ok, though, and not expensive

End of the afternoon the weather finally started  improving. We walked to the clan jetties, passing the Kapitan Keling mosque (left). The Tan jetty (right) extends far out, a perfect location to drone.

In this picture you see theTan jetty (where we are standing, near the red temple) and the large Chew jetty.

Georgetown with the ferry terminals.

We had dinner that evening with a friend who is living in Penang, so he knows the good food places…:-)

He suggested for breakfast the next morning Moh Teng Pheow a famous nyonya kuih stall, near to our hotel. It opens a bit late, at 10:30 am, but it was worth waiting. Popular place, friendly staff, nice food.

Our next destination was a fishing village, Teluk Kumbar, at the southern point of the island. On our way we visited another waterfall, suggested by my friend Siang Hui. Usually it is just a trickle of water, but he expected that it might now be more powerful after the heavy downpour. And he was right, as usual..:-).

In front of the waterfall there are two temples, an Indian and  a Chinese one, next to each other. Unusual.

Here is the drone picture of Teluk Kumbar

Aric is collecting data about assam laksa shops in Malaysia and had discovered one in Bukit Mertajam, so leaving Penang we went to this shop for lunch. Only open during weekends and run by a family in their own home in a residential area.. Take off your shoes, before you enter! Nice assam laksa, friendly service

After our lunch we continued to Guar Petai, a.k.a. Frog Hill. We had visited this spectacular mining landscape in 206 during our trip up North last year. Very suitable for droning, although even without a drone, you have a nice view from the hill in the middle of all the lakes

In the left picture you can see Aric on top of the hill, directing his drone. The right picture is taken by the drone, and when you enlarge the picture and look carefully, you may see me at the right, on the ridge…:-)

Here is one more drone shot, taken from a higher altitude.

Ater this Frog Hill we drove back to Taiping. I had booked two nights there, Aric went back to KL. My activities in Taiping this time were mainly related to heritage, which may be a bit too detailed for the average visitor of this blog. Therefore I decided to write a separate blog  Taiping September 2017 , about how I spent these two days.

Taiping promotes itself proudly as Bandar Warisan (Heritage Town) and it is true that you can find many beautiful historical buildings there.

But there are also many ruined and run-down buildings, and during this visit I have concentrated on this darker side of my second hometown.

As I had no transport this time, I had booked a train ticket from Taiping to KL Sentral. Nowadays there is an efficient and fast ETS (Electric Train Service) between Gemas and the Thai border.

Food and beverages can be bought on board, tickets can be bought online. It took me only 3 hours and 20 minutes between Taiping and Sentral. Kudos for Malaysia!

Although we had to modify our plans, the  6D5N trip was very interesting and full of variety, as usual..:-)

Taiping September 2017

At the end of our Trip up North, Aric dropped me in Taiping, where I stayed two nights in my favourite hotel Furama. My last visit was in May (read the report here) and I was missing my “second hometown” :-).

After a shower and some rest, I had dinner with Tung Lay Chun and her family. Later that evening I met Wan Amril for a drink. Both are members of the Taiping Heritage Society and knowledgeable about Taiping heritage .

Four years ago I have written a blog post Shame on Taiping! about the pitiful condition of several historical buildings in a town that proudly presents itself as  Bandar Warisan (Heritage Town). In the meantime these buildings have deteriorated further, but recently there has been some activity and Lay Chun and Amril updated me about the present situation

The next morning I went out for breakfast. A bit early, because I wanted to try the “most famous” Chee Cheong Fun in town..:-). During my last visit I had also gone to stall 37 in the Taiping hawker center near to the Bomba, but the CCF was sold out early in the morning. This time I was lucky and just in time.

Delicious food. I chatted a bit with the friendly owner of the stall, his family had been operating this stall for many decades already. Will sure come back.

After my breakfast I walked to the Lake Gardens.  In January 2017 I published a blog report Taiping Old and New in which I compared old photographs and postcards with recent pictures taken from the same location.  One of those buildings was the Standard Chartered Bank, now the Public Library. The Lake Gardens are beautiful any time of the day. I passed the Peace monument, the THS has tried to beautify this monument by planting flowering plants around it, but that was not a success. Now it looks better, with new tilings around the  brick posts, each carrying a peace message in various languages

My first target was the ruined Casuarina Hotel on the hill where once the Residence stood. According to Amril there were (serious) plans to build a 4-star boutique hotel here. The hotel has no heritage value, it was built after Merdeka. No sign of any recent activity here yet.

I was not in a hurry, so I checked the number of pillars and their location, the only remains of the former Residency. In total there are 32 pillars, see the GE image below.  This imagery was obtained in 2007, when the Casuarina hotel was still operating!

Walking back I passed the (former) First Galleria. After a few successful years it was taken over by MPT because of mismanagement. Now it is called the Taiping Municipal Gallery. It was closed. Note the sloppy way they have kept the old sign, just removing “will” (and forgetting to add an “s” to function). My Taiping friends tell me there is nothing of interest inside. Pity.

Behind this Gallery is the soon to be opened Telegraph Museum. The first telegraph line in Malaysia line was built between Taiping and Kuala Kangsar, so it makes sense to have a museum about the history of the telegraph here. Hopefully it will be managed better.

I continued my walk to the biggest eyesores of Taiping, the Old Rest House and the former PWD building. During my last visit you could enter the PWD building through all doors, no fencing at all. Squatters were living there and trees were growing in the courtyard. Recently they have cleared the interior, removed the trees and bushes. They had to destroy one of the entrance doors, so a bulldozer could enter. After the cleanup the destroyed door was rebuilt, in itself a good sign.

Also the doors have been closed in a primitive way, and in Malaysia that means you can still enter..:-). The courtyard is clean now, which makes the ruined state of the building only more obvious. The same holds for the Rest House, it is fenced off, but you can still enter. Also here the undergrowth  around the building has been cleared. According to Amril this building is designed to become a boutique 3-star hotel.

My breakfast had been quite filling, so I decided for a light lunch with cendol and pasembor at Ansari, one of the two famous cendol stalls in Taiping.

Before I ordered my food, I got into a conversation with two gentlemen, who had just finished their meal. We came to talk about Taiping heritage and one of them was the owner of two beautiful heritage houses, in Barrack Road  around the corner. We had a look at these houses and will keep in touch with each other, because of our shared interest!

I had been walking quite a lot, so I took a long rest in the afternoon. I decided to have popiah for my dinner, so I walked again to the Taiping hawker center. No popiah there, but interesting preparations for the last day of the Hungry Ghost month. During the 7th month of the Chinese calendar, the ghosts of the ancestors are permitted to return to the world of the living. At the end of this month they have to go back and Taai Si Wong (his effigy is shown in the right picture), takes care that they do…:-)

When I reached the stall of the Famous Omar Popiah near the Central Market, they were just closing. So no popiah, I went to a nearby stall and ordered satay and ketupat, also nice…:-).

After my dinner walking back, I came across a Caucasian couple and we started chatting. Not very often I meet Mat Salleh’s  in Taiping…:-). They are from New Zealand, traveling in SEA, and were  pleasantly surprised by the relaxed atmosphere of Taiping. Of course I agreed and we decided to have a drink together. We walked back to the Taiping hawker center, where we had three big Heineken for RM 21 only. Just behind Taai Si Wong…:-)

A nice day. I don’t know why, but it is easy in Taiping to meet interesting, friendly people.
The next morning I met Yeap, the president of the THS. A few months ago the Malay Mail Online published an interview with him about the deplorable state of many heritage buildings in Taiping.

He was willing to show me some of these buildings. In the GE map I have indicated with letters the locations we have visited (click to enlarge)

In the center of the town, one block behind the Old Rest House (A in the map), a dilapidated facade, overgrown by trees and greenery. Decaying for how many years already?

Two examples of shoplots. This one (B) is located on Jalan Lim Tee Hooi. MPT has put a warning sign, AWAS (Be careful)

Here is the second one (C) opposite Central Market. Again a useful warning sign by MPT…:-)

Next we visited the area around Swettenham Road (now Jalan Istana Larut). In colonial times many sumptuous bungalows could be found here, and also more simple government and army quarters. Here is what is left of an impressive bungalow (D on the map). Note the pillar structure. No fence, you can just enter. I explored the ground floor, the upper floor is no longer accessible, look at what is left of the stairs.  No wonder that useful parts of the building will disappear. It would be interesting to find out more about the history of this building.

Here are a few more pictures of deserted government quarters (E, F, H). Not fenced off, you can just enter and explore.  G is special, a gate with two posts is all that remains of what once must have been a big bungalow on a huge plot of land.

Thanks to Yeap for an interesting excursion. Next time I will explore more.

Taiwan, August 2017

We like Taiwan. Our first trip to Taiwan was in 2014, Aric went again in 2015 with his family. Both times to the Northern part of Taiwan.

This time we first visited the Penghu islands, off Taiwan’s West Coast.

Back on the mainland  we rented a car to travel to the southernmost point of Taiwan and from there, following the East Coast, we drove back to Taipei.

In the GE map I have indicated the locations where we have spent one or more nights

It was an amazing trip, full of variety

 

I took (too) many pictures, in this report I will just give an impression of what we have been doing. Nevertheless it will be a long report…:-)

On 1 August we took an Air Asia flight to Kaohsiung, a big town in south-western Taiwan. A few days earlier Taiwan had been struck by typhoon Nesat, followed by tropical storm Haitang. Nesat had cause considerable damage, many flights were cancelled, so we were a bit concerned, but we arrived without problems, although it still was raining heavily.

This is the spectacular accommodation Aric had booked in Kaohsiung

A studio on the 33th floor of the 85 Sky Tower. A room with a view, where we stayed two nights. Here is the view from our room (taken later when the rain had stopped).

Our first Taiwanese dinner. Many people in spite of the rain. We shared a table (and a conversation) with a Taiwanese family. The first experience of Taiwanese friendliness, many more would follow..

We had only one day to explore Kaohsiung. The day we arrived, we could not do much because of the rain, but the next day we only had some drizzle.

In the morning we visited the harbour, the lighthouse and the old military fort

The most famous tourist attractions of Kaohsiung are the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. They were built in 1976 in the Lotus Lake and can be reached by a zigzag bridge.

Kaohsiung is a big town, we used the metro often. One of the main stations is Formosa Boulevard, where we admired the Dome of Light, 30 meters in diameter and  made of 4,500 glass panels.The largest work of glass art in the world.

The next day we went back to the airport to take a flight to Qimei, one of the Penghu islands. Nice experience to fly in a Twin Otter (19 pax). It took only 40 minutes to reach Qimei.

At the airport, our host was already waiting for us, with the motorbike Aric had rented for the next two days. He took us to Cheng Village, a collection of traditional (renovated) Penghu houses. Our room was in one of them, but as there were no other customers, we had the whole house to ourself.

A splendid accommodation. Aric had brought his drone, the right picture shows an aerial view of the Cheng Village. Click to enlarge and you can spot us in the courtyard of our “mansion”

When we started talking about another trip to Taiwan, Aric was adamant that he wanted to visit the Penghu islands. What is so special about these islands, was my question. The Twin Hearts of Qimei,  he replied.

Here they are. It is actually an ancient fish trap made by stacking stones to form a trap that resembles a flying heart. The main tourist attraction of Qimei, every day many hundreds of tourists arrive  by ferry from the main Penghu island. After they have left, it becomes quiet, when we visited the place in the evening no one else was there. Very peaceful and romantic.

Aric used the drone to take a spectacular sunset picture of the Twin Hearts. The other drone photo has been taken the next day. It shows another tourist destination of Qimei: little Taiwan. With some fantasy the rocky platform looks like Taiwan.

The island itself is not very interesting, rather flat and barren. But the rocky coastline is quite attractive

And then there is the food, seafood of course. Exotic seafood often…:-)  It was our first experience with Sea Urchins. You eat only the gonads (sex organs !) of these spiny critters.

On our way back from the restaurant to our homestay, we found a few  beautiful flowers just beside the road. We were quite excited, but discovered later that this night-blooming cactus is quite common, actually related to the dragonfruit !

After two nights on Qimei, we took a ferry to Magong, the main town of the Penghu archipelago. Several of the islands are connected by bridges, Aric had booked  homestays on two of them, and rented again a motorbike.

On arrival at the Magong jetty, the owner of the first homestay was already waiting for us. He drove us to his place where we dropped our suitcases and continued on the motorbike to the second homestay.

 

It looked complicated but it worked very well. Again the people are so friendly!

It was still quite some distance to the homestay on Xiyu island. An isolated house in the middle of nowhere. The friendly lady was living downstairs, the first floor was ours, as there were no other guests.

From our terrace we had a wide view of the surroundings and of course Aric used the drone to take an aerial picture

Soon after arrival we went out again to visit the basalt cliffs of Xiyu. Really spectacular.

We continued to the Yuwengdao lighthouse to watch the sunset.

The next day, after a traditional breakfast of oyster noodles, we first visited the Xiyu Western Fort, built in 1887. In 1895 it played a role in the Japanese invasion of Formosa, as Taiwan was called in those days. Next we had a look at another basalt formation and the nearby traditional village of Erkan, where we had lunch. Finally we drove back  across the Great Bridge of Penghu to the other homestay where we arrived sunburnt and almost dehydrated.

This homestay was the most luxurious (and expensive!) of our Taiwan accommodations.

The next day we first visited a memorial for the Taiwanese singer Pan An-Bang in Magong. Aric likes very much one of his songs, which is related to his life as a child on this island. Here is the song  外婆的澎湖湾 on YouTube.

In the afternoon we went to the “Mozes bridge” as we have called it. The official name is Kuibishan Geopark. A small island, Chiyu island, can be reached on foot, but only  at low tide. A popular tourist attraction, our homestay had a notice board where the exact times of low and high tide were indicated.

Quite interesting. When we arrived the “road” was not yet visible. A large crowd was was waiting (in the hot sun!) and slowly the passage appeared. Here is a drone image of the “road”.

That evening we had a rather adventurous dinner. Aric had kept it secret for me. First we had to ride to a meeting point at a 7-11 shop, where we met the other guests.  A guy took the group to the nearby harbour where a boat was waiting for us. Our destination was a “restaurant ship”, located in the middle of the bay!

You have to book weeks in advance, it was very well organised, a table for two had been reserved for us. You had to bring your own drinks

Of course the menu was seafood, seafood and seafood…:-) Most dishes were delicious, only the squid skin I found uneatable…:-0

The next day we took a ferry to the mainland. Departure was in the afternoon, so we had the morning to walk around in Magong and have lunch. The most important temple of Magong is dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu and supposedly the oldest Mazu temple of Taiwan, dating back to the 15-16th century

The ferry took us in about two hours to the fishing town of Budai, where we spent the night.

Budai has a unusual tourist attraction, the High-Heel Wedding Church

The town is well known for its oysters, which in Taiwan are usually taken out of their shell before they are served. Here two drone pictures, one of the oyster farms and one of the iconic schurch

So we had oysters for dinner, supper and breakfast…:-)

The next morning we took a taxi to the Avis Car Rental office, where the second part of our Taiwan trip started.

There is a lot of geothermal activity in Taiwan, resulting in many hot springs. During the Japanese occupation (1895 – 1945) the Japanese introduced in Taiwan the onsen culture, public bath houses using the water of hot springs. We have become addicted to onsens…:-) Hotels in this region often have their own in-house onsen. Several times we had even a private onsen on our balcony. But the most interesting are the old-fashioned public bathhouses, which unfortunately become more and more rare.

Our first destination was the Water and Fire Cave . For at least more than 300 years a fire has been been burning here, fed by methane gas bubbles escaping from the water.

We continued to Sichongxi, a famous hot spring location. Aric had read about a traditional public bath house there, and after some walking around we found it.

For those not familiar with onsens, men and women bathe in separate sections, naked. There are many do’s and don’ts, we have enough experience now…:-)  One of the rules is that you don’t take pictures inside an onsen. This one was almost empty, so I broke the rule. Often an onsen has several baths, of different temperature, here there was only one. Notice the milky color of the water, due to the mineral content.

We stayed overnight in a hotel near the southernmost point of Taiwan. Nice location, beautiful view and a private hot spring bath on our balcony!

We had dinner in a small village nearby, a nice seafood restaurant. Here we had our ultimate sea urchin experience. The left pictures shows them in the tank. To prepare them, the upper part of the animal is cut away, most of the innards are removed, only the five gonads remain, which you spoon out. The spikes are still moving a bit while you eat. Not suitable for vegetarians..:-)

The rest of the food was also quite special…:-)

Here you see me drinking and eating…:-)

For a change we had a “normal” breakfast the next morning. The friendly owner told us that they had started this resort to give their children a healthy environment. A beautiful place, would have been nice to stay longer.

But we had to continue our trip…:-) First we visited the cape that we had seen from our balcony. Steep cliffs.

Rocky coast, impressive views.

It so happened that a friend of ours was also visiting Taiwan at the same time. He would like to visit the monument at the southern tip of Taiwan, but public transport was not easy. So we picked him up from the (nearby) town where he stayed and we went together.

We were not the only visitors of the monument. Everybody wanted to have a picture taken with him/her in front of the monument.

After waiting for some time, I managed to take a picture of the monument, almost without people:-)

The monument is part of the Kenting National Park, the oldest national park of Taiwan. More interesting was the coral cliff forest, where we walked around a bit

After a late lunch with our friend, we continued our journey to another famous hot spring village, Zhi Ben. We had booked a room in one of the hotels, again with our own private onsen…:-)

Taiwan takes care of its aboriginal people much better than Malaysia, imho. In this region the aboriginals belong to the Amis tribe.  We had dinner in a restaurant where they served local food, served by waitresses in Amis costume

Aric had discovered a waterfall in the region, but when we tried to find it the next morning, a friendly man on a motorbike told us that there was a much better one, and didn’t mind guiding us there. Taiwanese friendliness at its best! Quite a distance away, but it was worth the effort. Probably only locals know about it. Nice vertical fall, of course Aric also took a drome picture of it.

Our next destination was Sanxiantai , famous for its 8-arch footbridge leading to an island. Unfortunately the footbridge was being repaired, so we could only watch it from afar (and from the air). Pity, we have to come back to Taiwan…:-)

How to describe our next destination? In Chinese it is written 男人石, which translates as “man stone”. Probably even most Taiwanese locals are not aware of it.

Coming closer to the big rock makes clear what is meant with the “man stone” 🙂 Sprinkling water on it, is supposed to bring luck.

Driving further north, we passed the Tropic of Cancer . A monument marks the location of the most northerly circle of of latitude at which the Sun can be directly overhead (during the Summer Solstice).

 .

It was a long day and we were tired when we reached our next hotel, not far from the Taroko Gorge, one of the main targets of this trip. This hotel had its hot spring bath in the bathroom..:-)

The next day we explored the Taroko Gorge. The gorge has been eroded by the Liwu river and the walls of the gorge almost touch each other at some places . It is one of the nine National Parks of Taiwan, and truly spectacular. Access is free of charge, but for some of the trails you have to apply for a permit.

You need people in the pictures you take, to appreciate the scale. This picture shows the most dramatic part of the gorge.

It is advised to wear safety helmets, which you can borrow free of charge! My helmet did not really fit my big head…:-) Of course we returned the helmets after our visit

Here are two more pictures of what is called the Swallow Grotto Trail

There are several (pedestrian) hanging bridges to cross from one side to the other. A road also has been constructed through the gorge. We parked our car at several places, to walk and admire.

It was a fascinating day. With a very unexpected, “dramatic” ending. On our way back, we stopped near one of the hanging bridges. While I walked across the bridge, Aric decided to take a drone video of the bridge and me. He decided to fly the drone  below the bridge. That was no problem, I could see the drone pass under me. After that he wanted the drone to turn right to have a look at a waterfall. But instead it turned left and I saw it crash against the left cliff wall.

When you enlarge the third picture, you can see, within the circle, two white spots, lights of the drone. The location looked absolutely inaccessible. As it was getting dark, we decided to come back early the next morning to have a closer look. Rather despondent we drove to our hotel. The drone chip contained all the videos Aric had taken! Only the still shots had been transmitted to his phone.

The next morning we went back to the crash site and at once saw that it was out of the question to rescue the drone.  It will still be there. We have to come back to Taiwan to retake the videos…:-)

We continued our trip up North along Taiwan’s East coast. Slow driving with all the time beautiful views of the rocky coastline.

It is amazing to see how they have managed to construct a road here. Also a railroad track, mostly using tunnels.

Beautiful weather. No horizon, sea and sky just merge in shades of blue. We look quite happy, after the “tragedy” of the day before…:-)

We had lunch in a fishing village Su Ao in a popular, crowded shop: 阿通伯魚丸 . We had to wait quite a long time for a free table.

The food was , how shall I say it, “special”. Apparently many people like it, they even come here from Taipei.  Not my favourite. Most of it is related to smoked shark

Here is a comment, translated from Chinese: Signature fish soup shop, but is the most difficult to eat the product, another on the flavor should not also be the hardest I’ve ever eaten fish soup to drink

We drove on along the coast until we reached  Jiaoxi, a township with many hot spring resorts. We had visited this town also in 2014, now we stayed in a different hotel, of course with its own onsen…:-)

During our first visit we had taken our dinner in Weng Yao, one of the several restaurants where they  specialise in roasted chicken, using clay ovens. We went again, the chicken is nice and very juicy, but really too much for two persons.

The following day our destination was Taipei where we would return the car. But  before we left the Yilan county, we visited the Lanyang Museum. That was a pleasant surprise. The exterior of the museum, designed by Taiwanese architect  Kris Yao, is stunning, inspired by the common, tilted, rock formations in the region. Construction started in 2004 but it was only opened to the general public in 2010.

The museum is dedicated to local culture and nature and really a pleasure to visit.

We returned our car to the Avis office in a suburb of Taipei and took a taxi to our hotel. Another gem discovered by Aric. Quite far from the center of Taipei, but next to a subway station and with a spectacular view of the iconic 101 tower;.

This is the Amba hotel, where we had book an upper floor room, with a view of the 101 tower.The skybridge connects directly to the Songshan metro station.

Nearby, on walking distance, is one of the popular Taipei night markets: Raohe , where we walked around to have a snack food dinner

We stayed two nights in the Amba hotel, because we wanted to visit the National Palace Museum. This museum contains nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world.

The most popular artwork is the Jadeite Cabbage, a piece of jade sculpted in the shape of a Chinese cabbage. Here it is.

Here is the museum and a picture of the crowd trying to catch a glimpse of this actually not very impressive work of art…:-)

 

Personally I found many of the other exhibits more beautiful.

In the afternoon we visited another onsen nearby. When we arrived, they told us that it was closed for cleaning until later that afternoon. No problem to spend some time in the adjoining park. This onsen was a popular one, with a crowd of senior citizens..:-)

During our first visit, we had met a nice taxi driver. Aric had used his services also during his second visit with his family, so we had become quite friendly.

For our last day we had asked him to pick us up from the Amba hotel, show us some interesting tourist attractions in North Taiwan, drop us in Jiufen where Aric had booked accommodation, and then send us to the airport the next day. That plan worked very well.

It was a full day. First he took us to the Yangmingshan National Park, north of Taipei. An interesting volcanic landscape, in this region there have been sulphur mines in the past

Of course there are several onsens in the region..:-) We visited one of them, a very attractive one. Several baths, varying in temperature between 38 and 48 C. Friendly atmosphere.

For lunch, Lyu, our taxi driver, took us to his favourite shop, easily overlooked when you don’t know the joint..:-)

In the afternoon he took us to some interesting rock formations. This one is called the Elephant. It looks like my position is quite exposed, but actually it is very safe…:-)

Here are a few more bizarre rock formations.

A long evening walk before he dropped us at Jiufen

In 2014 we had also stayed in Jiufen, a very attractive (but touristic) mountain village. Aric had booked accommodation with the same owner, but this time a different location. From the bedroom a nice view of the sea, deep down.

The next morning Lyu brought us to the Taipei airport. A very nice guy. After checking in there was enough time for lunch. NO seafood…:-)

A long report, with many pictures, because we did so many things…:-)