Taichung – The “Nice” City

I was recently told by a friend that when a person is described as “nice”, they think it’s just a polite way to say “dull”; and while Taichung wasn’t exactly dull, it definitely didn’t spin all our wheels. Nonetheless, we still had a very nice time during our 10 days and found some cool little spots and more tasty food.

We arrived in Taichung via high-speed train and this station is a little out of the city compared to the standard railway station (yes, there are two railway systems in Taiwan!!) and while there is no MRT in this area there are plenty of public buses to take you in all directions. And if you use a Taiwan ‘EasyCard’ or ‘iPASS’ travel card you can travel up to 10kms at no charge. Awesome 👍

We arrived at our accommodation, Mou Hotel (read our review here) and saw a lovely area across the road that turned out to be the Liuchuan Riverwalk. Fun to explore during the day and pretty at night when all lit up. During the evenings it was full of activity when it was much cooler and weekends we heard and saw some beautiful musicians playing for the crowds.Liuchuan Riverwalk_Taichung City_TaiwanOur hotel had complimentary bicycles which we make the most of as we can explore further without walking around in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very hot while out cycling, but the boys are much happier to get out and about on wheels rather than their feet. On one of our first days in Taichung we went out on the bikes and found some animation street art, with even a few goodies from mine & Logan’s childhoods and we then had to explain to the boys who Popeye and Olive were. Street Art_Taichung_TaiwanNext was the Literature Park, which also had a small museum, although all the information was in Chinese there was a cool little children’s area and there were some books in English, so the boys had fun in there for a while. Literature Park & Museum_Taichung City_TaiwanAnother day out on the bikes we went looking for a big park so the boys could have a good run around outside and let off some steam. We found Fengle Sculpture Park which was a large green space with playground, exercise equipment, pond, a few ducks (some the crazy chasing variety that reminded us of the flocks at Western Springs Park back in Auckland) and a large selection of many different sculptures. Fengle Sculpture Park_Taichung City_TaiwanWe spent a nice amount of time here, mostly in the shaded areas, and Lincoln got the chance to throw around his new special memento.

This memento was from a local baseball game we went along to one evening. Logan found that Taichung City had a team, the Brothers, and they played many games a week with an evening home game scheduled while we were there. Even though we don’t know much about baseball, and have never been to a live game, we thought it would be lots of fun and a new family experience. We found a local bus that would take us right to the stadium, which was about 6-7kms away, and we joined the evening commuters. We purchased our tickets (adults were 350 NTD/$16.80 NZD, children 250 NTD/$12 NZD and those under 115cm (Braxton) were free) and were surprised at how many people, all decked out with the team’s merchandise, were there to watch a game on a Tuesday night.Brothers Baseball Game_Taichung City_TaiwanWith not knowing much of what was being announced or the music being played, we quickly got into the swing of things by repeating as much as we could and following the dance moves of the cheer squad and fans around us. Logan suggested that the boys go down to the bottom of the stand near the dug outs to try to get a foul ball. They both watched the game from there for a while but Braxton didn’t last long enough and returned to our seats as he wanted to go back on the blowup slide. It wasn’t too much later that Lincoln returned with a game ball!! He was so excited and happy, he had been given it by one of the security guards after the team had been using it to practice with between innings. Brothers Baseball Game_Taichung City_Taiwan_1It was nearly 10pm by the time ended, and while the local team we were cheering for didn’t come away with a win, it was definitely a win for us. We all had a fantastic time and while the boys had some time out occasionally on the children’s entertainment, we were surprised how much we throughly enjoyed it, especially seeing a huge home run hit!!

One day we decided to get out of the city and head inland to the largest body of water in Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake; so named because the east side of the lake resembles the sun while the west side resembles a moon. We took a two-hour bus trip to the lake and as we stepped off the bus at the visitor’s centre we were immediately offered tour packages around the area, something we became used to in SE Asia but haven’t really come across in a Taiwan. Perhaps it’s because it’s such a high tourist area with tour buses and boats everywhere. We decided to get some lunch while we looked into what was around the area. We walked up to Meihe Park to take some photos and then headed to the pier to get some tickets for the boat trip across the lake. The boat goes to Xuanguang Wharf first and then we got off at Yidashao Wharf.Sun Moon Lake_Nantou County_TaiwanThe other side had a much funkier feel with a buzz of activity and we walked around this area for a bit before heading along the lake front boardwalk towards the cable car/gondola (or ropeway as it was named here).Sun Moon Lake_Nantou County_Taiwan_1It was a hot day but a little cloudy, so the views were a little hazy but the cable car was a fun trip for 250 NTD/$12 NZD each (adults and children). At the end of the cable car was the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village, but we aren’t keen on these type of attractions, so we managed to get an escorted buggy ride through the park to the bus stop on the other side; which the boys thought was just “so cool and the best part of the day”. Sun Moon Lake_Nantou County_Taiwan_2We didn’t have to wait long for the bus to come through and we were back in Taichung around 5.30pm. It was nice to get out of the city for the day and the lake and surrounding area was quite pretty but definitely on the tour bus circuit.

During our time in Taichung we found a few new dishes that we really enjoyed and they were just a short walk away at the Taichung Second Market. One stall within the market sold some delicious smelling stewed pork dishes and when we saw the long line of locals we were convinced to give it a try and we were not disappointed. Another place we liked was on the outside street of the market and we just called it “the steam bun and wonton shop”. They sold just six different items and again it was always busy and getting a seat would often involve some strategic hovering as people were getting ready to leave. Our favourite dishes here were the wonton soup, dry noodles, steamed bun (rou-bao) and especially for Logan, who has been missing his chilli condiments, wontons with chilli meat oil.Taichund 2nd Market_Taichung City_TaiwanJust before the market we discovered ‘Happiness Spring Roll’ and for just 45 NTD/$2.16 NZD, it was definitely happiness to our tummies and budget. The first order we got “with everything”, including sugar which we weren’t expecting, and while it was nice, it was too sweet for us. So the following visits we requested “no sugar” and they were much better. Then Logan found you could request wasabi as well, so that was added to a roll one day and that was a tasty little addition as well.  Happiness Spring Roll_Taichung City_TaiwanOur stay in Taichung was pleasant and “nice”, nothing hugely outstanding that blew us away but nothing offensive either. Next we were planning to zoom up to the top of the country to Jiufen, an old gold mining town in the mountains, for a few days. Stay tuned for how the “zoom” didn’t quite go to plan….

Average Daily Spend – $132.72 NZD ($39.78 under budget per day).

– Paula

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