Waking up early than others in my room, I had a shower and packed my bag. I walked to the main station and caught a train to Taichung. I had to wait an hour at the station as I just missed a train but that was no big deal.
The train I took was comfortable with plenty of leg room in a spotless carriage. They assign you seats so that there is no fuss. Originally I was sitting next to a Taiwanese lady but she moved to an empty seat to give me more room. The scenery on the way down was nice with mountains and going through different towns. It took just over two hours with the train making several stops.
Once I arrived in Taichung, I walked to my hostel about ten minutes away, where I was too early to check in. I found some maps but they were all in Chinese so I asked the receptionist what to do. She gave me a few hints but there wasn’t actually much to do except shopping.
As I was feeling hungry, I found a kiosk type place, which made me noodles with a sort of tomato sauce. There weren’t any chairs so I looked for a place to eat in the sun. In the end I perched on wall outside the train station. While I was eating, a Taiwanese guy, who was about 40, sat next to me and started up a conversation. He wanted to take me to the science museum for free but I kindly declined. He asked if I had a boyfriend, which I lied about as I wanted him to go away as he seemed a bit strange. Then carried on chatting asking me a weird question: ‘Was I a virgin?’. Who asks this to a stranger? Then told me he was a Christian telling me the story of Adam and Eve. As soon as I finished my food, I bid him farewell, where he wanted to get my contact details to speak to me again. This was a strange encounter.
After, I thought I would try to find the bus stop for the Sun Moon Lake, which I had planned to go to the next day. It took me ages to find it and I had to console many people who just pointed me in the direction but not telling me how far away. Eventually I found it, where I took a photo of the timetable and found the price. I’m glad I did it then than the following morning, where I would have got frustrated.
Then I wandered around the city, finding a famous building with huge Christmas decorations. Inside, the shop assistants were dressed up as elves and there were several counters selling cakes, biscuits and tea. It all looked delicious but was on the pricey side. I did, however, treated myself to an ice-cream at a famous shop just round the corner. The queue was massive and loads of people outside were enjoying their ice-creams. There were so many different flavours including about 10 types of chocolate, fruit and tea varieties. You could sample as many as you wanted but I didn’t want to take the piss. I tried a chocolate, mango, passionfruit and yoghurt and a earl gray tea. I decided to get a scoop of the passionfruit and yoghurt in a wafer that came with a choice of topping: I got a slice of cheesecake. It was extremely tasty but cost about 8AUD.
From here, I went to the Taichung Park to lie on the grass and chill. In the park were many people just sitting, a few little temples, a huge statue of a dog and some lovely flowers. After a bit of a break, I moseyed through a huge market with vans selling different foods and stalls with clothes, watches, bags and gift for sale. There were a lot of young people around the area buying allsorts. I bought a chocolate doughy cake with a chocolate truffle inside. It was nice.
I was feeling tired so I walked back to the hostel to chill. In the evening, I really didn’t do much before heading to bed.
I rose early to make the most out of my day. Once I was sorted, I walked to the bus station to purchase my ticket for the Sun Moon Lake. It took about 2 hours to get there, riding through towns and the mountainous areas. I got dropped off at one of the tourist information, where I had to figure out what to do here and how to get around. There were many different modes of transports to choice from: bus, boat, bike, motorbike, cable car, all at different prices as well as combinational prices. I decided to stick with the cheapest and get the hop on, hop off bus that takes you most of the way around the lake, stopping at the tourist attractions.
As I was waiting for the bus to arrive, I grabbed latte and sat on the chairs outside. I thought the best way would be to go to the furthest place first then slowly work my way back. Taking around 30 minutes to drive through windy roads on the edge of the lake, I disembarked at Xuanguang Temple.
I looked around the temple, taking some snaps and finding out about the Buddhist culture. Then I sat and chilled, gazing at the scenic view of the lake. I wandered around not really getting anyway as there were road works blocking off my path. I wanted to go to the other temple, which I couldn’t as the walking route had been blocked off and the only other way was to walk the long way round, where I didn’t have enough time before the next bus would come.
I caught the bus to the previous stop: Ita Thao, which was a small town. I wandered through the shops and markets with many tourists trying different food and purchasing souvenirs. I was feeling a little bit peckish but I had no idea what I fancied. After browsing, I choose a kimchee in tofu sandwich. It looked a bit odd with the outside of the tofu being dark brown but it tasted amazing. I definitely could have eaten another one. As tofu comes in different varieties, I always have to take a risk whether to get it: sometime it’s really good and other times I regret my decision. This time though, it was definitely the right choice.
I ate it down on the lakeside, where there were piles of boats and a little temple out on the lake. With the sun shining, it was an incredible view. I looked up the times of the buses and there wasn’t another one for over an hour so I decided to walk along a path on the side of the lake. It was only about a fifteen minute walk to the cable way location. I looked up the prices of the cable car but didn’t think it would be worth it as I would have to come straight back down. I wasn’t even sure what was at the top; maybe just the view of the lake.
I sat just mesmerised by my surroundings before getting the bus to Wenwu Temple. As it was nearing the end of the day, the sun was starting to set in the west. There were still many people at the temple but most of them just outside the entrance. I wandered around the temple, studying the shape and colours. There were steps on either side of the wishing well up to the huge, grey gate. I took a few pictures but due to the position of the sun, they didn’t come out too well.
After being here for an hour, I took the bus back to tourist information to get a different bus to Taichung. The queue for the bus was huge so I waited in line for about 40 minutes to mount the next available free bus. While waiting, I consumed a spring onion pastry in the shape of a doughnut. It was so good.
The journey back to Taichung was uneventful; just going through the mountains then the main road. By the time I got back, it was late so I just relaxed before going to sleep.
The next day was a relaxed day of not doing much. Leisurely, I got out of bed, had a shower and packed my bag. I went to the common area to make myself some tea before walking to the bus station. I decided to take a different mode of transport back to Taipei to experience the bus.
With people bussing around the station, I managed to purchase a ticket, which was cheaper than the train. I waited for my bus to come then found myself a seat but it quickly got packed with all the chairs being taken. The journey went fast with not much different scenery than the train.