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My first time to That Island in the Pacific



Yehliu Geopark

 
Walking On Crowded Trail At Yehliu Geopark
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 monster!


Crowds At Yehliu Geopark



Mushroom Rock At Yehliu GeoparkSplit Rock And Bridge
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.

Fossil Still In The Rock

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.

Nara Running Out Of The OceanClaira Running Out Of The OceanClaira Playing In The Water

Nara With Bubble GunShooting With Bubble GunsClaira With Bubble Gun
 
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. 

Steamers At Breakfast
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.


  Claira Eating Breakfast
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.

Lineup At 阜杭豆漿Shāobing In Hand

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 patient kingfisher. 

Common KingfisherNight Heron In TreeIrises Next To Bridge Taipei Botanical GardenLittle Egret With Feet Out Of The Water

Taipei Zoo 

Tree Nymph Eating From Flower
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".


Nara And Claira With Small Fish TankLar Gibbon Sharing ButterflyEating Muffins At The Zoo

Shopping Taipei

Kids With Taipei 101 BehindStinky Tofu In Taipei
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. 


Claira Gluing Base LayerNara Gluing On Eyes
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.

Nara With Finished Doll

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).

High Speed TrainNara Surprised To Be Going 250 kmh

Kenting, South Taiwan

Pool At Sunrise
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).



Claira Running Up The Beach
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.

Claira Swimming In The OceanNara Swimming In The Ocean
 

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.

Black BulbulLight Vented Bulbul  Red Turtle Dove In Palm Tree


Bored Pizza GuyDeep Fried Cuttlefish
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.

Thailand PrawnsCommon House Gecko

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.

Kids At The Kelp ForestNara With Giant GrouperKids With Rays Behind
 
 
 
Barn Swallow Resting

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.

 Tree Growing Over Building


Tree Over House Roots Growing Through Window Into Floor
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).
Nara With Window And Small Trunk
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.
Tree Growing Over Window
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.
 
 



Claira Eating Breakfast
Person: Claira
Tags: breakfast, Taiwan
Fossil Still In The Rock
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: fossil, rock
Tree Growing Over Building
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Shooting With Bubble Guns
Tags: bubble
Thailand Prawns
Tags: market, night, Taiwan
Nara With Giant Grouper
Tags: aquarium, Taiwan
Tree Nymph Eating From Flower
Altitude: 28m (91 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: insect, Taiwan, zoo
Pool At Sunrise
Altitude: 8m (26 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, palm, pool, resort, sunrise, Taiwan
Nara Gluing On Eyes
Roots Growing Through Window Into Floor
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: derelict, tree
Eating Muffins At The Zoo
Nara With Bubble Gun
Person: Nara
Tags: bubble
Nara Surprised To Be Going 250 kmh
Person: Nara
Nara Running Out Of The Ocean
Person: Nara
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Little Egret With Feet Out Of The Water
Species: Egretta garzetta (Little Egret)
Altitude: 13m (42 feet)
Location: Go To...
Nara With Window And Small Trunk
Person: Nara
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Black Bulbul
Species: Hypsipetes leucocephalus (Black Bulbul)
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Stinky Tofu In Taipei
Altitude: 166m (544 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: street food, Taiwan
Kids With Rays Behind
Tags: aquarium, Taiwan
Kids With Taipei 101 Behind
Person: Claira, Nara
Tags: city, Taiwan
Common Kingfisher
Species: Alcedo atthis (European Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher)
Altitude: 16m (52 feet)
Location: Go To...
Light Vented Bulbul
Species: Pycnonotus sinensis (Light-vented Bulbul, Chinese bulbul)
Altitude: 14m (45 feet)
Location: Go To...
Barn Swallow Resting
Species: Hirundo rustica (Barn Swallow)
Altitude: 25m (82 feet)
Location: Go To...
Night Heron In Tree
Species: Nycticorax nycticorax (Black-crowned Night Heron)
Altitude: 16m (52 feet)
Location: Go To...
Common House Gecko
Species: Hemidactylus frenatus (Common House Gecko)
Mushroom Rock At Yehliu Geopark
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: rock, Taiwan
Claira Swimming In The Ocean
Person: Claira
Tags: swimming
Nara With Finished Doll
Person: Nara
Nara Swimming In The Ocean
Person: Nara
Tags: swimming
Lineup At 阜杭豆漿
Crowds At Yehliu Geopark
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: crowd, Taiwan
Claira Running Up The Beach
Tags: beach, resort, Taiwan
Nara And Claira With Small Fish Tank
Tags: aquarium, Taiwan, zoo
Tree Growing Over Window
Location: Go To...
Tree Over House
Altitude: 9m (29 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: derelict, Taiwan, tree
Kids At The Kelp Forest
Person: Claira, Nara
Tags: aquarium, forest, kelp, Taiwan
Bored Pizza Guy
Tags: market, night, Taiwan
Claira With Bubble Gun
Person: Claira
Deep Fried Cuttlefish
Tags: market, night, street food, Taiwan
Steamers At Breakfast
Altitude: 29m (95 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bamboo steamer, breakfast, steam
Red Turtle Dove In Palm Tree
Species: Streptopelia tranquebarica (Red Turtle Dove)
Altitude: 11m (36 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: bird, palm
Claira Playing In The Water
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Walking On Crowded Trail At Yehliu Geopark
Altitude: 15m (49 feet)
Location: Go To...
Claira Gluing Base Layer
Lar Gibbon Sharing Butterfly
Altitude: 21m (68 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Taiwan, zoo
Irises Next To Bridge Taipei Botanical Garden
Altitude: 6m (19 feet)
Location: Go To...
Split Rock And Bridge
Altitude: 3m (9 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: rock
High Speed Train
Tags: Taiwan, train
Claira Running Out Of The Ocean
Person: Claira
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: Taiwan(18), aquarium(4), swimming(4), market(3), rock(3), night(3)
People: Nara(9), Claira(7)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Taiwan
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Hong Kong 11 > Taiwan

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Last Modified Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 at 22:44:48 Edit
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