With my parents in tow, I had to approach this trip with a different mindset. Comfort, convenience, and good food had to come before frugality, places off the beaten track, and long distances on foot.
Researching and planning for this trip was also more challenging than I had expected because the country’s tourism infrastructure is rigid. Public transport is not well connected, especially around the central mountains, and the private drivers I contacted all replied with a fixed itinerary we need to follow if we engage them. And their prices were sky high — about SGD200/day to cover the driver’s accommodation as well.
I was still determined to stick to our route (Taichung-Cingjing-Hualien-Taipei), so I booked all our stays, and left transportation to when we get there. It’s quite nerve-wrecking, not having our major journeys confirmed, but I just hoped and prayed that we’d be all right.
The only driver I locked in was the one who’ll be taking us from Taoyuan airport to Taichung. The 2 hour journey cost us SGD130. I thought about taking the train, but there wasn’t a direct one. And that would mean airport express train -> Taipei station -> Taichung station -> taxi to hotel. Not the most ideal with 2 senior folks and 2 big luggages.
We arrived on a beautiful morning in Taichung, and headed straight for breakfast. I chose to stay near the Fengjia night market, but the district is dead in the morning except for the few food stalls which all the students from the nearby university were at.
Then makan again. This time it’s lunch at Miyahara.
I then booked an Uber (so thankful that it’s available here) to Rainbow Village, a quirky group of houses covered in colourful murals. It started with a humble resident’s desire to beautify his village, and it was its unique beauty that saved it from the government’s widespread plan to demolish military residential areas such as this.
The entrepreneurial Uber driver inquired about our plans after Rainbow Village, and offered to wait for us there before fetching us to the next spot. We agreed to do a cash transaction, at the app’s price. Might as well, since Uber is still slightly cheaper than metered taxis here. He’s a chatty dude, and told me he really enjoyed eating satay and chili crab during his visit to Singapore. Hearing my halting Mandarin also prompted him to ask me what English music I like. And when I said Lady Gaga, he immediately put on her YouTube videos on. I was so happy to give him my money for his service.
The wetlands are along the coast, so quite a distance from the city centre. It cost us about SGD36 for the 45 minute ride back to our hotel in Fengjia. Really wished public transport here was more accessible! Oh well. At least everyone got a good nap in the comfy Mercedes Benz on the way back.
The snacks were great as expected, but the shopping was a disappointment. Most of it was average quality winter wear, so I had absolutely nothing to buy.