SunMoon Lake and the Shilin Night Market

We went  hiking at SunMoon Lake. There were families taking the same route.It was relaxing and would be a great getaway from all the accumulated stress caused by city life. After the hike, we rode a boat across the lake to Ita Thao. There are food shops of local delicacies in Ita Thao. I enjoyed the hand-made matcha mochi – fresh, soft, and tasty!
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That night, we travelled to Taipei. Sadly, we weren’t able to go to Taipei 101 or see famous landmarks. We, however, managed to visit the Shilin Night Market. Like the previous night, we helped ourselves to the appetizing streetfood of Taiwan.
DSCF2895DSCF2897DSCF2901(No, I didn’t eat this. I think it’s too sweet.)

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Spirited Away in Jiufen and Shifen

Despite the heat and the suffocating wave of fellow sight-seers, I love Jiufen.It used to be a little old mining town occupied by the Japanese. It also referred to as the inspiration behind Ghibli’s Spirited Away as Hayao Miyazaki was rumored to have visited the Grand Teahouse there. Evidently, the animation is embraced by the town warmly as character-inspired food, souvenirs, and decors flood the shops.
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There were tunnels and pathways and going around was the adventure itself.I could imagine Chihiro running down the stairs.  If I had more time, I would have just spent it walking around.DSCF3020DSCF3058

Then, we went to Shifen. I loved it, too! There was an interval with the train rides so we had the railways to ourselves for a good hour or so. It was also famous for lighting and setting lanterns up in the sky. We did that! It was an amazing experience!
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Kaohsiung: The Must-See Temples and Night Market

I stayed at a friend’s house in Kaohsiung. We ate at a local bufffet restaurant and visited as many temples as we can.
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Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant, we filled our bellies with various streetfoods at the Kaohsiung Night Market.
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There were even cool things to see!
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(Can you guess which one is real?)

Distinctly, Taiwan

Taiwan isn’t a country. Thus, this shows how ignorant I’ve been in geography and international issues. It’s a state of the Republic of China but being in Taiwan for four days made me see it has its own charm and so does the people. It is, separately, an enchanting place.

Although I would agree with other bloggers that you can do solo travel in Taiwan, that would be extremely difficult if you do not speak Mandarin. English signs are rare and people don’t converse as much in English. It would be easy to get lost in translation.

Kaohsiung: The Must-See Temples and Night Market
Fo Guang Shan is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist organizations in Taiwan. Similar to the temple in Chinatown, Singapore, it is famous as home to the Buddha’s tooth relic. Another famous tourist destination is the Lotus Pond on the east side of Zuoying District. We went there at night and the pond illuminated the lights from the dragon and tiger pagodas. After that, we visited the Ruifeng Night Market which offered varied street food, inexpensive finds great for souvenirs, quality items for your personal wardrobe, etc.

SunMoon Lake and the Shilin Night Market
I wanted to see nature and breathe in Taiwan’s fresh air. Thus, we went to SunMoon Lake for a short hike following the Maolan Trail. The hike took three hours to and fro and it was tiring for someone like me who had just been sick for the previous weeks. However, the experience was calming and quite refreshing. There’s something about the trees, the forest air, and the whole walk that rejuvenate one’s spirit. After that, we headed to Ita Thao Village as it is famous for its food stalls. After the refreshing trip to SunMoon Lake, we finally went to Taipei. To end the day, we visited Shilin Night Market and tried as much food we can. I’m allergic to a lot of things so this is both a happy and saddening experience. I missed out on their delectable seafood and such.

Spirited Away in Jiufen and Shifen
Since I love Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, I did not miss the chance to see Jiufen which is said to be the creator’s inspiration of the animated film. It was full of lanterns and felt authentically Japanese as it was once a mining town occupied by Japan. However, it was also full of tourists and it was definitely congested especially though the small alleys of food stalls. We walked a bit farther from the crowd and discovered hidden gems in the old mining town of Jiufen. After that, it took us three hours to get to Shifen Old Street. It was night and because of our strict schedule and weariness, we were not able to see its proud waterfalls. However, we had a dream-like experience of lighting our own lanterns and sending our wishes to the sky. Aside from that, we had fun playing along the railroad as there’s an hour interval per train which leaves the tracks empty during that time.

After reading articles about Taiwan, it saddens me that they are struggling for autonomy and is unsuccessful with their claim. Anyone who would visit would clearly see that it has its own history and culture. It has its own people. As it is, distinctly, Taiwan.