My first time to That Island in the Pacific
We left Vancouver just past midnight Friday
night (Saturday morning) and we arrived at the airport in Taipei
at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday. The kids slept well on the
flight so we were pretty quick to our hotel and the looking for
something to do. Helen's friend Katie picked us up and we
were off to Yehliu Geopark. Being Sunday, she had her kids
and attractions were busy - you could almost forget that we had
been on an airplane for 12 hours. We were just happy to be
outside to get some sunlight and try to fight off the jet lag
The geopark was really interesting!
The softer rock under a hard rock layer erodes quickly and formed
a lot of interesting shapes. Most of these shapes have names
and some of them are "Famous". For some reason in Asia, they
seem to like naming rocks and then making a tour package out of
it. What really surprised me was the high quality fossils coming
out of the stones. Coming from Vancouver, the tropical sun
was really hot so we didn't last long. Katie took us back to
the car and we headed off for lunch at a beach front restaurant.
At this time of the year, Vancouver could best be described as
"cold, dark and damp". We drove down the coast (past the
nuclear reactors) for about a half an hour until we came to a
beach front restaurant that served pizza. The kids were
really happy to see a beach that was warm (if not sunny) where
they could run around without shoes. We had a relaxing lunch
and tried desperately not to fall asleep - the longer we stayed
up, hopefully the later the kids would sleep in the next morning.
We went back to our hotel and were probably asleep by 7pm.
The kids were troopers, but there is only so much that a three
year old can do.
The tricky bit is the wake up the next
morning - it's 3am and you have awake kids in a small hotel in
Taipei. They are awake and they aren't going to bed. If you don't
give them attention, they will get louder and louder until you get
a noise complaint. You have a leave the building.
Where do you got at 4am? Turns out Taipei has lots of
breakfast options at 4 and 5 am. We wanted to try a
breakfast place called 阜杭豆漿 but it turns out it's the 5am type and
we were there at 4am. Just across the street is a place
selling very similar items and it opens an hour earlier! You
have to love Asia. We got breakfast and the kids watched
video. The clientel seemed to be a lot of people that go to
airports, mostly in sharp looking uniforms.
Our kids time change about an hour a day.
So the next morning at 5am we were in the lineup when 阜杭豆漿 opened.
The signature dish is Shāobing (燒餅) which is kind of like a cross
between Indian Naan (but sweeter and thicker, but still baked in a
clay oven with crunchy bits) and a scrambled egg sandwich. It
really is great breakfast food.
The lineup forms fast - we arrived just after it opened and waited
no more than 5 minutes to get our order in. We left around
6am and the line up was probably 45 minutes long. We ordered
a bag of 10 Shāobing for Katie's family and dropped them off from
our taxi ride back.
Taipei Botanical Gardens
When I heard "Botanical Gardens", I was
thinking massive gardens and lawns. Taipei Botanical Gardens
didn't really fit that model - yes they do have some forest/tree
space, but much of the site is buildings and ponds. I
quickly got over the semantics - within seconds of getting out of
the taxi I spotted a photographer taking a picture of a very
Part of our post flight
strategy is to get sunlight. The Taipei Zoo seemed like a good
idea to get some outside time. Katie made two recommendations
- see the insect exhibit and don't try to see it all in one
day. She was correct on both counts. The Zoo is very
large and it turned out to be quite a hot day so we finished when
the kids told us they were done. The insect show is similar to
butterfly world - indoor glass house with lots of butterflies flying
around. After a while, Claira decided she was scared of
Butterflies (another way of saying bored). The kids really
liked the Gibbons near the gate and the some of the Taiwan endemic
exhibits were quite nice. We were underwhelmed by the kids
area - we were expecting a petting zoo and it was more like a "see
farm animals in small enclosures area".
I'll be honest - a big
component of our trip to Taipei was for Helen to go shopping.
Taipei is a shopping destination - people in Taiwan come up for the
day, but now there is also a stead stream of shoppers flying over
from Mainland China to buy. Shopping with young children is a
bit of an art form - you want to move enough that the kids don't get
bored, but don't move so much that the kids get tired. You
want to show the kids video when there are waiting times, but you
don't want their whole day to be waiting. Downtown Taipei is a
beautiful place, but I didn't have much luck taking photos and not
losing my children at the same time.
In Hong Kong, we quite enjoy Eslite
(Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese characters unlike
mainland China) and Eslite has huge presence (multiple locations,
some 24 hour) in Taipei. We went to a flagship location and I
was quite surprised to see "Do It Yourself" stations all over the
sales floor. We picked a station where you can make "Disney
Inspired" dolls and the kids made a doll each. It took roughly
45 minutes of highly supervised time and it was surprisingly
expensive, but the kids had a great time and a toy they kept close
for the rest of our vacation.
After a few days of Taipei, we took the high speed train down to
meet Helen's friends in the south of Taiwan. The kids of
been on high speed trains before (we took the Shinkansen back to
Tokyo on our last trip) so I figured the kids just knew what was
going on when we were zipping by the countryside so quickly.
We often play the "how fast are we going" game when driving
(50km/h, 80km/h) and biking (8km/h, 12km/h) so I was quite
surprised when Nara though we were doing about 30 km/h in the
train. I broke out Strava on my iPhone (love those roaming
SIM cards) and Nara was really impressed when she found out we
were doing 250 km/h (actually slowing down).
Kenting, South Taiwan
We haven't taken the kids to a beach
resort kind of destination yet. They haven't been to Hawaii
or Mexico or an all inclusive in the Caribbean. Kenting was
our opportunity to go to beach resort, Asia style. We booked
three nights at Chateau Beach Resort which is beachfront in a
"National Park" at the south end of Taiwan. The resort has
what you would expect - beach front access, freshwater pool,
plenty of palm trees and enough food options that you never have
to leave. The "National Park" is just a shadow of National
Park in Canada or the US (roads and communities everywhere).
Of course the kids wanted to spend all of
their time on the beach and in the pool. The beach is lovely
sand and the water is pretty clear, but with a pretty constant
surf (it was windy the whole time we were there) it was hard to
relax when the kids could get washed in.
The resort had some beach toys for kids (shovels, buckets, sand
molds) and also had life jackets that were mandatory for a swim in
the ocean. They did have a life guard on duty and you were
only allowed to swim in the roped in area. I tried to swim
out to a rock to look for fish - I was quickly whistled at and
they drove the ATV over. My bad.
The grounds of the resort were nicely kept with a number of common
bird species making their homes between the buildings and the
beach. I was surprised how loud some of the birds were, but
maybe it was just me sensitive to bird calls I hadn't head before.
Kenting has a night market footsteps from
our hotel that obviously caters to the daily tourist
traffic. Most of the stalls are selling food and being off
season, most aren't very busy. Compared to other resorts
I've been to, it's nice to not be "locked in" to your resort -
plenty of options a short walk away.
National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium
We are spoiled with the Vancouver
Aquarium. We have a membership so we go whenever we want and
generally have short visits. The Vancouver aquarium is small
but busy - you can get anywhere in less than 5 minutes, but you
will almost never be alone. The Aquarium in Kenting is
amazing - unbelievably large tanks full of mostly tropical
things. The facility is built to handle crowds in the
thousands and there seems to be just a few walking paths that
encourage a "see everything once" trip. Being the off season, the
place was almost empty and lonely.
Anping Tree House, Tainan
Angela's parents live in Tainan, as does
Helen's friend Linda. After leaving Kenting, we had a dinner
planned in Tainan and a few hours the next morning before we took
the train back to Taipei and our flight to Hong Kong. Angela
made a great choice with the Anping Tree House as our destination
for the morning. This used to be a warehouse but a Banyan
tree has been slowly overgrowing the house so that the house is
now completely useless, but cool to see.
They have done a ton of work to make
this location tourist friendly. A huge steel
structure was built so you can walk up to the roof and get
a large view of the site. Particularly troublesome
branches have been covered in foam so you don't bump your
head too hard. While the building is in rough shape,
I don't think it will fall on you (there are steel frames
around some parts).
There is a room discussing Banyan
trees. It's quite interesting - apparently Banyan
trees aren't very useful for wood (doesn't make good
furniture, doesn't burn well) but because they don't have
utility, they are left to grow large and become useful as
shade and landmarks which becomes their own value.
There are several species that grow in the Taiwan and each
has their own properties.
We were way off season, but it was
sometimes hard to get a good view without other
tourists. I didn't have making strong images from
the place, but I'm sure with more time or talent there are
some really clever images here.
After picking up train snacks for lunch, we took the high speed
train up to Taipei.
Tags: Taiwan(16), swimming(4), market(3), rock(3), night(3), aquarium(3)
People: Nara(9), Claira(7)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Taiwan
Last Modified Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 at 22:44:48 Edit
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