Sunday, 13 April 2014

Day 2 In Taipei, Beitou, Yangminshan and Danshui Love bridge



Day 2 in Taipei was full of activities.


The activities planned were Beitou hot water public springs in the morning, followed by leisurely stroll in Yangminshan park and Evening sunset at Danshui, also known as Tamsui, Love bridge.





We started from our hotel at 7 AM just after sunrise. The sunrise in this part of the world is very early, around 5:30 AM something. So at 7 AM it was very bright. The Taipei 101 was visible at a distance.



XinBeitou


A quick 40 min ride and were in Beitou, where we need to change a ride for XinBeitou.


The compartments for the short ride are specially built. During the travel time of 10 min between Beitou and Xinbeitou the LCD panels inside the train explain about the hot springs history and usage. Very informative.






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A short walk from the station and you come across the Qinshui Park. It has the Hot water spring museum.
The museum gives the insight into how  the Japanese occupation era changed the landscape of this area into hot water spring resort. It was a public spring at some point in history. Now it is a restored museum.
The places are at walking distance and can be covered within an hour of strolling. The attractions are around the small valley from where the hot water emerges from the inside of the earth.





We made ourselves a bit brave and headed for the mixed public bath. The swimsuits were allowed there and it was within our budget. The place name is "The Millennium Hot Springs". 
It is as cheap as NT$40 per entry. You need to bring in your own swim suit and towel. Bathing is compulsory before entrying any of the pool. Photography of any sort is not allowed. I borrowed this photo from http://www.taiwanese-secrets.com/ . Pools are at varying heights. The temperature in each pool increase by 1 degree. The topmost being 4 degree hotter than the lower ones. Once in the pool the locals could easily spots the aliens in the crowd. Yes! Thats us! Few were timid but few bold ones were ready for a quick conversation. 

We could spot another couple who were from Japan there. We later walked our way to station with the same lovely couple. Soon we realised it was nearing afternoon. We headed to Beitou and stood in line for the bus 129 which is specially scheduled several times in the day to take tourist and locals to the Yangminshan Spring festival. Yangminshan is a mountainous region within the limits of Taipei area. Easily reachable by public transport and very famous in the locals and foreigner alike for the nature hiking trails.                   



         The buses were 2 times in an hour. The buses were small in size owing to the mountainous nature of the roads there. We had to squeeze ourselves in as were squeezed for time. Few people at the bus stop preferred to skip the bus and wait for the next empty one. We later realised that the bus passes through the xinbeitou station anyways. We had simply traveled to beitou to be back at the same place. In the hindsight it looks like a right decision. At this point there was no place to squeeze in more. We decided to drop by at Xinbeitou on our way back. 

YangminShan

The bus drops you right in middle of the privately owned Cala Lily farms in Yangminshan. The bus ride was excruciating. The twist and turns were very much the proof of the windy roads were travelling by. The bus can be seen in the background on the left.





The cala lily festival is a yearly festival held in the spring season in the Valley of Yangminshan. Yangminshan is famous for its hiking routes. We didnt have the intention or the time for hike. So we decided to spend max an hour in the fields. 


One can choose their pick of flowers and purchase it from the park attendant at the gates. 3 or more flowers entitles you for a bouquet packing else you have to carry 1 or 2 on your
own.



The weather was nice and skies clear. Perfect for a heavy lunch and a cat nap. But we had lots to cover. A snack of boiled corn from the near by local market and we decided to start for Xin beitou's Hell valley. We had kept it pending for our return trip back to the city.







Xin beitou Hell Valley


We were back to back in Xin Beitou by 2 PM. Well in time for a quick lunch. The McDonald at the station provided the required nourishment. We headed to the Hell valley as per the map shown at different road junctions in the area. We passed by the same public bath we visited in the morning. The Hell valley had some cherry blossoms still in full bloom. 








Hell Valley is nothing but a small lake with hot bubbling water from the centre of the earth. The strong sulphur smell is so obvious that the name is apt, 'Hell's Valley'! The area was frequently shrouded by steam. After spending 20 min we headed for Danshui, love bridge. It was already 4 PM by that time. A quick 20 min ride up the north to the end of Danshui Line is the Danshui town. 



Danshui

Beitou is on the same Tamsui line which links the main Taipei city to the Tamsui area in the north.
Dansui Station can be reached by a short 40 min ride from the Taipei main station. From there a loop bus R26 takes you to the wharf. It has a bridge spanning over a river mouth and a boat terminal where one can take a cruise round the harbor. Couples and tourists go there for viewing a nice sunset if nature is generous enough. We could not see the sunset as it was cloudy that day. Nevertheless we still decided to hang around. Had our Caricature taken for a 100 NTD by a local artist. We had to use sign language and some local people helped us translate us our pose to the artist.
Had some leviation trick shots done as well.




The sun went down soon and lights started playing with the mood. The dusk was the most heartfelt with the mild music played by the local public radio over the loudspeakers. The bridge was lit up by various colored lights to create an atmosphere. 


The restaurants below were offering dinner seating by the slow moving river. No wonder it was named as love river. We could have spent enough time there but decided to head to the Shilin night market for a quick bite and shopping. 





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Bye Bye Tamshui! 




Shilin night market

Shilin night market is more nearer to the Jiantan mrt station than the Shilin station. It is a regular night market affair with some shops offering amazing discount for some coupons we got from the tourism authorities back in Singapore. Read more about getting the discount coupons for your-freebie-before-flying-to-taiwan


A map is provided with the discount coupons. So we headed to the basement food court to have dinner before heading back to the hotel. The idea of having a hot plate dinner made right in front of you was intimidating enough for us to try this shop.
The sauteed prawns and rice, seaweed soup to go with it.


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This is the bubble tea stall which tells us that the bubble are having a texture like frog's eggs..  
Initially we were skeptical but we asked the stall owner and she replied in proper English that it is bubble tea stall. 





This is the famous oyster omelette from the Chinese cuisine, made in Taiwan style... 





Some more typical sauce and noodle stall serving instant meals.  


















This is where the oyster omelette is made. The fish soup next to it. 







Point and shoot for your food if you have difficulty reading that.




Some more stall with Oyster omelette and   fried seafood. We ordered the fried crab and loved it to the core. Crispy white and orange crab, eaten completely, even its shell is eaten.

While exiting the market we saw this little prawning stall. I immediately remembered the prawning shops back here in Singapore. But this one looked more authentic and cheaper.  the person back in this shop will then  barbecue your prawn catch.




By the end of it we were finally happy till the bottom of the heart and we made our way back to the Hotel at Ximending..... It was really fruitful day with Shilin market as a surprise addition we never had in the actual plan.... 

Day 3 has more coming... Our trip to the interiors of Taiwan and the Mountain sunrise train....
Keep a watch on this page..