With only an hour and 15 minutes flight from Hong Kong to Taichung, our 5-day journey from 4th August embarked on a well-known Alpine Lake in Nantou District, named the “Sun Moon Lake”. Regardless of raining cats and dogs on the bus few hours ago, we were so grateful that the pouring rain finally stopped during our arrival. Slowing down the pace and strolling near to the largest lake in Taiwan in the midst of early evening, I find a sense of tranquility while watching the glorious sun steadily losing splendid colour, splashing and drowning its dazzling gold on the far horizon along with those rosy sky and clouds above. Enchanted, this breath-taking scenic is just like a colourful water-painting created by an artist, I am sure no camera can fully capture the genuine romance of this graceful sunset before the dark night fell.
Of course, for city-dwellers like us, it was never simply enough to be in this relaxing paradise with only amid the dusk. In the next day, standing on the hotel balcony with a grand seaview in front of our eyes, here came the lake with its translucent blue all around, set off by the natural colour of the sky. Loosening myself up, my heart immediately lifted in refreshing springs of exhilaration. What a wondrous moment, while bathing in a balmy sunshine and listening to the gentle splashing sound of mist-laden water, to witness the sun rising over the emerald mountains, and remind me the beginning of another beautiful day. With this picturesque scenic, it was admittedly hard to bid a final farewell to this beautiful Sun Moon Lake when I left my heart in this wonderland.
After having a last glance of the panoramic view of Sun Moon Lake by a ship ride and a cable car, here we were, arrived at Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village. It offered us a rare glimpse to nine major groups of indigenous tribal communities, incorporating their multifarious daily engagements of cooking, sculpting, knitting, and even their unique traditional clothing and housing environment. To create a wow factor in this visit, we were also greeted by those delightful cheer and roars of native performers in the theatre. In the another side of the amusement park, the gorgeous palace, and also the Roman fountain in the centre and clock towers at each corner, were the tempting landmark of the largest European Garden in Taiwan, and surely one of the highlights of the Cultural Village.
The next day, frankly, I hadn’t thought the weather of Cingjing Farm would be that cool before I arrived to the highland and I couldn’t help putting on my long-sleeves during my visit. Glazing to this natural serene environment in an entire amazement, we were just like besides to the Alps in Switzerland, with mist-bathed hilltops, emerald lawns and the accompany of sheep everywhere. Every new gust of soft morning breeze was blowing around my cheeks and trees were swaying along by its rhythm. I drew in deep breaths, inhaled in each of the refreshing air and heard the wild call of nature with a carefree feeling. A group of lovely sheep glinted with excitement and were leaping around while seeing me grasping a packet of mixed grass food, trying to feed them. Running across the highland at ease, touching the comfortable fir of the sheep, being in this cosy open area was just out of this world!
Nonetheless, contrary to the peaceful nature in Cingjing Farm, Fengjia night market in Taichung reflected the diversity of locals’ multi-faceted activities and entertainment. Dazzling neon nights and enticing billboards were being hanged upwards in the commercial area, promoting an assortment of sportswear, beauty cosmetics, popular bestsellers and many more. Sequences of motorbikes, public transport and a swarm of pedestrians made the lines of roads became more hustle and bustle during the rush hours and even near to the midnight. At the same time, the alluring aroma of dan-zai noodles just tickled my nose and watered my mouth, and the cropping up of braised pork rice and Taiwanese oolong tea in my mind made me simply no longer wait to have a taste of both.
After a night of tasting and shopping, we then moved southwards from Taichung to Tainan for two hours by train. Anping Fort, which was built by the Dutch for trade and strategic reasons during their 38-year administration from 1624, and Chih Kan Tower in 1653. Both become class One historical monuments nowadays. The red brick walls in Anping Fort marked as a vivid symbol of the Dutch governance of Taiwan island, as well as a pivotal springboard to foster international business until 1662 after their defeat by a Chinese general Chen Chenggong. In the meantime, the ornate stones, wood foundation, Chinese style architectural structures and elegant garden all enabled Chih Kan Tower to be one of the top ten best destinations for the sunset view. It also came as a vogue for myriads of students, to be in Wenchang Pavilion inside of the Tower, to wish for being high-flyers in front of the God of Literature.
All in all, the gracious amiability and cordial courteousness of the Taiwanese impress me most. They were willing to lend a helping hand to us whenever we were frustrated about the directions. “Xie xie” (thank you in Mandarin Chinese) are often in their mouth in common occasions, such as after the bus ride, gratitude would be expressed to the driver no matter how long they have waited for the bus before (the longest waiting time could be an hour in Taichung and Tainan). It is also worth-noting that tea shops have been set up everywhere and are gaining popularity in Taiwan. When I come back to HK, what I missed most are those fragrance of freshly-made Taiwanese tea. With the combination of clear lakes, high-rise mountains, skylines of bustling cities and friendly locals, “Ilha Formosa”(beautiful island), which was the name of Taiwan by the Dutch in the 17th century, currently is and always will be in my heart. ♦