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Friday, February 17, 2017

Two Days of Art and Flower Power in Taichung

My main objective in Taichung was to see the amazing sea of flowers at Xinshe Flower Festival, it’s also the most convenient gateway for travelers going to Sun Moon Lake or Alishan, but not knowing much about this city didn’t stop me to see what it has to offer. Taichung is pretty laidback, yet packed with interesting things to see that I really wasn’t able to cover much during my two-day stay.

taichung railway station
Downtown Taichung by night

HOW TO GET TO TAICHUNG
I stayed two days in Taipei before arriving in this city. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I didn’t really do much research prior to arriving in Taiwan so I didn’t know there was a direct bus from the airport to Taichung, so if you are interested, then this would be better since bus ride would only take about 2.5-3.5 hours form Taoyuan International Airport.If you are coming from Taipei, there are also buses and the trip duration will take about 2-3 hours. In my case, I didn’t know about the buses too, because my instinct that time told me to go by TRA. I was told by a fellow traveler I met in Taichung that there really is not much difference in time if you go by bus, the trip also took about 3 hours, but the fare is 100-150$ cheaper.

taiwan rail

GETTING AROUND TAICHUNG
Unlike Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taichung doesn’t have their own MRT system yet. Bus will be your primary mode of transportation if you are budget conscious like me and enjoy going by mass transport. The good news is, bus rides that span less than 8 kilometers are free (if you are using Easycard, iPass, etc)! Yup, you’ve read that right. The only downside is that routes that are outside central or downtown area do not have frequent schedules, so you might need to wait 20-40 minutes for the bus to come. The 300~ bus series usually have 5-15 minute intervals. Be prepared to wait and wait and wait... I suppose there will be apps that can show you the bus schedule, but I didn’t bother checking this out, I only used Google Maps and relied on the timetable available in the bus stops. But if you want to be prepared and organized, I suppose the app ‘BusTracker Taiwan' would come in handy. This website is also handy for checking routes, bus numbers and interval. Taichung e bus website.

DAY 1 – Arts and Crafts in Taichung
I arrived quite late in Taichung and needed time to settle down and eat, of course. So I had free time finally at around 1:30 PM. At this point, I had absolutely no idea where to go, because it will be too late already to go to Xinshe due to the traffic. After what seemed like years of searching in the internet, I remembered a post from my friend’s Facebook post about a so-called Rainbow Village in Taiwan. The bus trip from the Railway Station, which is the main transport hub of the city, to the bus stop nearby Rainbow Village was quick, probably around 10-20 minutes, but oh boy, the time I spent looking for the bus stĺop and waiting for the bus probably took me an hour. This is the same story for almost every bus ride I had in Taichung. You can read more about the interesting Rainbow Village here
 

I’m not a very artsy person, but I have slowly learned to appreciate contemporary art. Whenever I go on trips, I make it a point to look for street art (which I hope we have in Manila) or hip trendy streets, so to kill two birds with one stone, I went to Donghai International Art Street 东海国际艺术街. It’s actually just one street filled with cute boutiques and cafes, but I busied myself trying to find these artworks hidden amongst the small alleys of Donghai.

x-files, anyone?



Directions:
From Rainbow Village
I recommend this route because you get to walk around East Villa Night Market. Go to Lingtung Institute of Technology and ride bus 48, get off at the 19th stop (Industrial Park 16 Intersection) and you have to walk along some residential and commercial area

From Taichung Railway Station
This route has more frequent buses. Take buses 301/302/303/304 to Donghai Villa, then you need to make a 15 minute walk.

taiwan street art
detailed street art! I would love my house to have a painting like this!

It was very dark when I arrived at Tunghai University 東海大學 so it’s probably not a good idea to do more walking around the campus and find Luce Memorial Chapel 路思義教堂, which I still did by the way cos I am persistent like that, and because I wanted to see one of I.M. Pei’s design (who, by the way, was also the architect of Louvre Pyramid in Paris). It is unfortunate though that I was not able to go inside, since it is only open during Sundays. I recommend travelers to take a quick sidetrip here to see this unique structure that looks like hands praying.

taichung chapel
beautiful chapel in one of Taichung's biggest universities

DAY 2 – Flower Festival and Central Taichung 
 Xinshe Sea of Flowers Festival 新社花海 is the most memorable part of my two-day stay in Taichung. I never really intended to go here when I booked my trip, but it sure is a nice surprise for my travel dates to coincide with this flower festival. I wrote a separate post about this lovely event so do check it out for more pictures and details. They only hold this event during November though, so if you come to Taiwan in the wrong season, you can still enjoy more fauna at Meifeng, Lavender Farm, Chungshe Tourism Flower Market.
taichung flower
flower galore at Xinshe Sea of Flowers Festival

It was not a good idea to go to this festival during the weekend. Aside from the hordes of visitors going in and out causing traffic in the area, the buses were also not that frequent. I think it took me about an hour or so to finally be able to get back to the hostel to rest a bit, it was already 4 in the afternoon. Without any plan in mind, I just decided to look around Central Taichung.

miyahara
queue at Miyahara. are you willing to wait for a scoop of ice cream?

Another place that Taichung is known for is the Miyahara 宮原眼科, a former eye hospital that was transformed into a dessert store. Its interior looks so glamorous but there were just too many tourists and salespeople that constantly greets you (lol) that I ended up going out right away as soon as I was able to take a not-so decent snap. The queue for the ice cream was too long so I just decided not buying anything. I was informed later on that a scoop costs about 100 NTD! Being a big ice cream junkie, I now regret not choosing to sample at least a scoop.

miyahara taichung


There were few historical buildings that I was able to visit because of its proximity to my hostel. Taiwan Cooperative Bank, a small branch that is eye-catching for the red bricks used for its assembly. A couple of blocks away, I saw the Taichung Old City Hall 臺中市政府環境保護局, an impressive building constructed during the Japanese occupation in Taiwan.

taichung old city hall
Heritage buildings around Central Taichung


And since I had some time to kill, I went to one of my favorite pastimes in Taiwan, strolling around the night markets! The biggest one in Taichung is quite far from the city center, so I just went to the closest one in called Yizhong Street 一中商圈. The place is packed with yummy snacks that will definitely fill you up. Lots of trendy clothing stores and restaurants too, so you won’t get bored for sure.

Yizhong Street, warning, bring lots of money you'll definitely want to splurge

no time for pics! got me some fruit shake and fried chicken cutlets


To cap the night and burn off some extra cals, I went on a walk to Taichung Park 台中公園. What an eventful and fun day!

a famous landmark around Taichung Park

More time for Taichung? Here are other places worth looking into..
Dakeng Scenic Area – I put this on my list, but had no time left for it due to its far-out location and my lack of proper hiking clothes. I have heard that they have awesome challenging hikes and climbs, so if this is your cup of tea, then head to a bus for Dakeng!
Fengjia Night Market – biggest night market in the city!
Gaomei Wetlands – for amazing view of the sunset
Taiwan Museum of Suncakes – for yummy pineapple cakes and other snacks!

1 comment :

  1. Aww so pretty! Too bad we weren't able to go here when we went to Taiwan last January :(

    ReplyDelete

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