Not your usual Taiwan itinerary (Part 3)

Day 7 – I booked the Wang Gong clams picking tour (王功採蚵車摸蛤生態之旅) nearly two months ahead to ensure i got a place. You can do so via Facebook messenger, which was how i contacted them. Otherwise, you can also sign up for an adhoc tour at some of the restaurants in town, or, you could just walk to the beach area and DIY.

Riding the “Mad Max” vehicle is a major part of the fun. Cigarette-wielding badass-looking chauffeur, check.

Pools of water? no problem
The slumpy land extends as far as you can see during low tide. There’s no smell at all, and it’s safe to walk around bare-footed.
My little girl has no qualms about venturing far from us at this age
We were actually VERY GOOD at picking the clams. In the end, we gave them all away. Styrofoam boxes are provided for you to bring them home.
Snail squirming about. You’re supposed to bring home clams and nothing else.
The second part of the tour was about oyster farming. Oyster shells are recycled for this purpose.
The tour is done very professionally. The guide explains everything in great detail.
Freshly shucked oysters are offered to the lucky few. I was one of them (being a foreigner has its priviledges).
This area is within walking distance from the nearest car park, and you are free to pick the clams here

Wang Gong town was jam packed with visitors on a Sunday. After checking reviews on Google, we had lunch at 真好呷蚵仔炸.

Oyster pancake in a different style than the ones found in a night market. This is closer to the ones at Xiamen and Putien in Fujian, China, but it was not as good
Steamed fish was excellent, the best we had in Taiwan. The fish had very fine texture, and the doneness was just right (tends to be overdone in Taiwan)
Clams is a must order from this clam producing place
The asparagus was very tender and fresh

Changhua roundhouse was next on the list. Supposedly one of only three in the world that is still in use.

It is a common practice in Taiwan to extend the built-in area of a property by installing awning walls like these ones at the balcony area. Looks precarious..
Looks well maintained
Thomas the train is the first thing that comes to mind, right?

Next up, Lukang (鹿港), a town well known to many due to the namesake pop song from 1982. The heritage area is indeed worth checking out.

It was scorching hot around 4pm and we sought shelter from the heat in Ba Wa cafe
The coffee was decent but the cheesecake seemed to have been served direct from the freezer
It’s fun walking around Lukang town and taking in sights that remind you of how things were 30 or maybe 50 years ago
It doesn’t look like much but this shaved ice dessert with white colour noodles was awesome. 發記粉粿冰
A still-in-use hand crank water pump (lower right corner)
Laundry art
Only a handful of these old houses have fallen into disrepair, the majority of them are still intact and remain in active use. This reminds me of the old towns in Italy.
I love roaming about the real residential area
This was probably not very inspiring architecture back then, but now old is gold
The heritage old street has been turned into a tourist oriented commercial street
This rivals the narrowest street we saw in Kotor, Montenegro
For comparison, this was the lane in Kotor, Montenegro. Quite obviously, Lukang wins
Mansion with western features incorporated
While in Lukang, don’t miss this shop selling Mee Suah
Yummy

Taichung was the place to spend the night.  Hotels are relatively cheaper there, and well located too. We stayed near the Taichung train station, and there was a Taroko Mall with a Carrefour supermarket at the basement. I found an eatery selling steamed dumplings and soup near the hotel using Google Maps and it was cheap and good. I highly recommend coming here when in Taichung.

Gone in sixty seconds. Kids loved this.
Egg soup and the popular Taiwanese soup – sour and spicy soup. Both very good.
吉蜂蒸饺, full of locals. Works like a fast food place with quick turnover.
There was a Donutes cafe near our hotel. I was curious to try them out, since i have been to their overseas branch (called Baiwago Plus) in my Malaysian hometown, SS2 PJ. I would say the Taiwanese one was slightly better.
Day 7 itinerary

Day 8

Having been to Taichung on both the previous Taiwan trips, Taichung didn’t come across as being particularly interesting, but i came to love Taichung during this trip. It felt, and probably is much older than Taipei.

Liuchuan Riverside Walk, the Taichung Cheonggyecheon wannabe
An interesting feature at Liuchuan Riverside Walk – horizontal cascades
Made a visit to this market due to some blog or forum recommendation to try the red tea sold at a stall here, but the tea turned out to be underwhelming (too sweet). If you went to Taroko Mall, you should try the bubble tea from 春水堂, the originators of the bubble tea. I had them during the last trip.
I noticed a long queue at 山河卤肉饭 in the market. Pity i didn’t have time to give them a try. If locals queue for it, it must be good.
And this is what i mean when i say Taichung is old – there are still plenty of such wooden shops around, and they look like they have a bit of Japanese influence in terms of building style
A quaint looking house with a narrow entrance

Enroute to Penglai River Ecology Park (蓬萊溪賞魚步道), we made an unplanned detour to 南庄 to view the century old post office advertised on road signage.

Century old means built during the Japanese occupation

This part of Taiwan in Miaoli is predominantly Hakkas, so, naturally the lunch was going to be Hakka dishes.

A restaurant that can cater to large groups
Fried eggs with dried raddish (菜圃蛋)
Trou in sweet and sour sauce. The sauce was good.
This is similar to the Sarawak Mydin, and it looks interesting with the egg yolk
At Penglai River Ecology Park. It amazes me how the rock is split into half
Crystal clear waters and full of boulders – perfect habitat for fishes
If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the river is indeed teeming with fishes
I’m envious of Taiwanese who are blessed with so many places of natural beauty
Furry purple flower
The village is very sparsely populated

Doing trip research is so important, and i did none for my visit to Lion’s Head Mountain. Now that i have looked at the images of some of the trails near the visitor centre, i would say the Shuilian bridge trail (水濂橋步道) is more worthwhile doing, plus it’s also the easier one. Anyway, here’s what i saw along the Tengping trail.

There’s actually a bit of a Jurassic Park feel
These ducks living by the mountain stream will surely taste good 🙂
The flora in this area is quite unusual
You don’t get to see a hut shaped mushroom often
Tengping trail is probably so named because of the rattan that appears everywhere

We were then off to Beipu old street, hoping to chill in some cafe. We stumbled across one by chance – 幸運草良口冰. The boss was very chatty, and on learning we were foreigners, became even more keen to talk. He told us about firefly watching at a nearby location. I was intrigue, but it would not be possible to stay at Beipu until it was dark. If you did a search for “萤火虫 台湾” Google images, you will find many beautiful photos.

On the way to Beipu, a beautiful sight of paddy fields
Affogato in a small town where you least expect it. The coffee went really well with the ice cream.
Intricately decorated interior of the cafe
East meets west ice cream
Some of the houses in Beipu is simply made of mud applied on wooden partition
The must-try dish when in Beipu – 粄条 at 老店客家菜. So delicious!
Savoury Tang Yuan! This is as close as it gets to the 算盘子 we assume to be a universal Hakka dish, but doesn’t exist outside of South East Asia, and may have been forgotten in 大埔 where it originated.

After checking into our place of stay (which, by the way, is a hundred years-old building), i asked the very helpful staff, and he offered to bring us to a nearby place where he knew we would get to see firefly. We could only view the firefly from a distance, but at least we got to see them. A bonus for the day!

This was the best i could manage. 30 seconds exposure.

Dinner was Hakka dishes, and only 關西客家主題小吃 was open past 8pm. Food was decent.

Hakka classic dish 梅菜扣肉
客家小炒
Complimentary dessert – mochi dipped in peanut bits
空心菜
Day 8 itinerary

Day 9

Flight home at 8pm practically allowed us to have a full day program.

Enjoy breakfast in the courtyard of Lohouse
Known as Soon Kueh in Singapore, the Taiwanese version was bigger and better, with tasty chunks of pork inside.
A cool place to stay for the night, inexpensive too
Many towns across Taiwan are transforming themselves to go after tourist dollars on top of what they traditionally do
Spent the morning at Xiao Ren Guo. I’ve been there as a kid more than 30 years ago.
Daxi Tea Factory seemed like a cool place to do lunch
There is water dripping from the roof – an innovative way to create a water fountain while also keeping the place cool. Although, half the water probably evaporates.
Daxi is known for their beancurd. Overall, the lunch is quite tasty, even though it’s the mass produced type.
The set meal comes with coffee and tea. The tea leaves sold here are extremely expensive.
The setting is popular for wedding photography
Went to check out Bat’s cave. There are no bats in sight, as they have ended up as delicacy decades ago and are long gone.
It takes only about 15-20 minutes (uphill followed by slight downhill) to get here
Jiguopai old church
Snail with a beautiful shell

The very last stop before going to the airport – Hsu Yan-Pin bakery (許燕斌手作烘培). I’m a bread person.

This was basically dinner
The shelf on the left was full of medals
The egg yolk custard bun had an egg yolk inside!
Dirty bun (脏脏包) that is trending now, in lemon flavour. It’s amazing, both the topping and the texture of the bread.
Day 9 itinerary
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