Exploring Taichung

Taichung is one of those places that we could have covered in a day or two in one of the previous trips we made to Taiwan, but I am glad we didn’t and came here this time round with 5 days to spare. We arrived here from Taipei by a short bullet train ride from Taipei central, and was too early for checking in to our booked hotel. If there was one small gripe, it would be that the town centre (where we were staying) was a bit far away from bullet train stop. Having said that it was a relatively quick 20 mins Uber ride straight to our kind of “stylish” SOF hotel.

The first thing we noticed when we got to Taichung compared to the last week or so, was the improving weather. I certainly made the most of it, and spent the next couple of days in a t-shirt! It’s the type of weather that was perfectly suited for scooter/motorbike rides, so I wasted no time to go rent out the same evening we arrived in Taichung! Oh.. if you ever want to rent a scooter like the one I did below.. highly recommend checking these guys out.. “Royal Scooter Rental“. Prices were very reasonable (I think I paid 400yuan/day) and the bikes definitely felt like they were well maintained.

The second thing I noticed was the seemingly large number of Vietnamese and Indonesian food choices near where we stayed at 繼光商店街. Taichung must be where a lot of Vietnamese/Indonesian come and stay if they come to Taiwan! It’s quite impressive to see the them conversing with customers in mandarin.

One thing we didn’t really do much this trip, was shopping. By that, I mean we didn’t do much retail shopping in physical stores. We don’t do that much while on holidays these days anyway, but we did still do a bit of it online. Taiwan is arguably my favourite online shopping country, because we could basically post what we bought online straight to the closest 7-11 store close to where we stay! Having said that, we didn’t buy a whole heap of stuff this time round (Just an Xbox controller, a shower head and a mouse pad). We did take care of Ethan as well. One thing he’s REALLY into at the moment is “Hulkbuster” (one of the Avengers character / suit worn by Ironman and Bruce Benner). He’s been bugging us to get “Lego Hulkbuster” (Got that from one of the Youtube video he’s been watching). We knew it’s just a temporary fad (last one was Ghostbuster’s Marshmallow man), so we didn’t end up getting the original version (because his mum didn’t want to). Instead we went with the rather good ‘copycat’ version called “LePing” 🙂 And you know what? We ordered it, and it arrived in just 2 days! He was a very very happy boy when the package arrived..

And I can assure you, he bugged us to put it all together, so that he can take it everywhere we went over the next couple of days!

As Taichung was the last leg of our trip, we kept it easy going, often not knowing where we were going on the day, sometimes looking at where to go during breakfast! Nevertheless, we still managed to cover quite a bit. Most of the attractions we found were definitely on the “artsy” side, reflected in the place we visited namely…

Rainbow Village(彩虹眷村)
This village was a good half an hour motorbike ride to get to (yes, with Ethan and wifey on it). It was definitely very colourful, and the story goes something like this.. A village elderly was unhappy that local council was going to tear the houses down. So failing the “formal” way, he went ahead and painted the whole village (apparently not trained in art too) and turned it into a cultural icon it is today. The plan worked, and it saved his village alright, and gained quite a bit of fame in the process too! Worth a visit.

I’m Talato Cafe (塔拉朵)
This place is a selfie artist’s dream. We probably spent more time taking photos in this cafe, in the giant pool of ice creams and donuts, than actually sitting down to enjoy the dessert and coffee we bought.

Chun Shui Tang Bubble Tea (春水堂人文茶館)
This establishment is definitely more like an institution here, as they are advertised to be the original inventor of the “bubble tea” revolution started back in the 80s. They do have quite a few stores in Taichung though the original is the one located quite near where we stayed! Myself and Ethan are definitely big on bubble tea, but for some reason I didn’t find the “original” that good. The pearls are definitely smaller in size (the straw is smaller as a result), and the quality of the pearl itself is not quite as chewy as it should be. Nevertheless, unlike most bubble tea shop in Taiwan, Chun Shui Tang is also a full restaurant. The food was definitely more interesting. The ingredients used were evidently fresh, and weren’t overly oily like a lot of Taiwanese food. I would come back here for food!

Anime Street (動漫彩繪巷)
Here’s a unique street with seemingly random wall paintings of familiar cartoons and anime characters. We definitely had a bit of fun identifying cartoon characters and taking photos next to them.

Carton King (紙箱王創意主題園區)
When I first found this on Google, I somehow read it as “Cartoon King” thinking it was about cartoons. When we rocked up, it was a nice surprise for me to realise that it’s essentially a “Carton” themed entertainment area with just about everything made out of cartons. Arguably the star feature of the establishment is the awesome pink slide that wraps around a tree. No, it’s not made of carton! Let’s just say it wasn’t just Ethan that kept going up and that slide for a while.

Apart from that, it was definitely worth the 2 hours we spent walking around the place exploring.

Gaomei Wetlands (高美濕地)
We took the long way to come here by a combination of train to 清水火車站, and then Uber (probably just over 70 mins in total), and came back by cab (45 mins journey) . It’s definitely a lot windier here than central Taichung and cooler as a result. But it doesn’t stop tourists coming here just to dip their feet in the shallow waters of Gaomei Wetlands during low tide. It’s definitely a nice place to take photos especially if you come close to sunset. We felt it was worth the trip there, even though we barely spent a hour at the wetland itself.

National Museum of Natural Science
A visit to some sort of science centre/museum seems to be on our itinerary every city we visit these days with Ethan around. This one was actually quite good with the emphasis on illustrating the story of “life” from beginning all the way to the future. The best part was probably the massive dinosaurs exhibit, although we did have a bit of fun with the “ageing simulator”! Take your kids there.. they’ll love it! Oh.. and you’ll love it too!

Chungyo Department Store with “Theme Toilets” (中友百貨)
Here’s a weird one. We came here almost by accident as we rode (our scooter) past it and thought we should pay this rather large big department store a visit. When we got there, it turned out its toilets on various floors were actually tourist attractions! It’s a brilliant idea, because it made us explored all the different floors so that we get to snap a photo of the toilet itself!

Lots and Lots of FOOD
I can’t see how can anyone can anyone go on a diet in Taichung with such an abundance of good food here. Most that we had weren’t expensive at all but they were just plain delicious! And best of all, we didn’t even need to plan where to eat. A simple Google search is all you need and you’ll get a ton of choices all rated 5 stars! The few that I could remember and have photos of.. (photo illustrated clockwise):
– Carrot Cake @ The second market 臺中第二市場 – Comes with a queue but worth it
– Breakfast @ Honey 好飽 早午餐-自由店 – Simple breakfast
– Japanese food 花囍家日式料理製研所 Decent value, and very fresh Japanese food
– Rice ball 平等街飯糰 – this is arguably the best “Rice ball” i have ever had! It’s sold by two grandmas from a tiny stall out the front of some shop house. Never mind that.. the rice ball is VERY good!

If you feel like splurging a bit, you sure can do so by visiting Miyahara (宮原眼科). The place definitely felt a bit touristy, with minimum spend requirements and came with a rather luxurious decor. Nevertheless, we had dinner there and had classic Taiwanese dishes like “3-cups chicken” (三杯鷄), and pork buns. And we finished it off with ice cream served downstairs with its own dedicated little outlet as well. Let’s just say, we probably splurged the most here compared to anywhere else in Taichung in a restaurant. It was our last day!

After 5 days here, it was time to call it the end of our Taiwan holiday. Taiwan hasn’t disappointed us in the past and it hasn’t this time round either. It’s one place I’ll definitely come back again. For now.. it’s a short return back to Singapore, before we head to another favourite holiday destination of ours.. Japan!

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