Sunday 2 November 2014

9D8N Taiwan Free & Easy Trip - Day 2 (Taichung/Cingjing)

After a night stay in Ximending, we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We checked out and headed to the Ximen Station at about 8.30am. We reached Taipei Main Station at about 8.40am and bought the HSR train tickets to Taichung Station. We queued up at the counter (instead of the machine type) as we wanted reserved seatings and it is cheaper at the counter. The price is NT$700 per pax, single trip. The train left at 9.18am exactly and reached Taichung Station at about 10.16am.

HSR Single Trip ticket
We were supposed to catch the 10.20am bus at Exit 5 in Taichung Station. We had planned to take the bus and the journey via bus is about 2.5 hrs. A taxi driver approached us and offered NT$500 per person to bring us up to the 日光青境民宿(Sunnydale Minsu) at Cingjing (清境).

As we had luggages and also didn't know where to drop off if we took the bus, we decided to take the offer from the taxi driver. It took us 1.5 hrs to reach to our Minsu. However, do note that the roads up to the Cingjing farm are steep and winding, so some people may get dizzy during the 1.5hrs ride. We arrived at the Sunnydale Minsu at about 12pm and could not check in yet (as the check-in time is 3pm). The Minsu staff gathered us around and explained the activities for that day and the next.

Sunnydale Minsu @ Cingjing
After that, he sent us to the nearby restaurant, 纸箱王 Carton King, for lunch. If you spent a certain amount at this restaurant, you could get complimentary tickets to visit the Small Swiss Garden (小瑞士花园) next to Carton King.

Carton King Restaurant - chairs and decorations made of carton

Carton King - Drink in box and cup hold made of carton

Carton King - Lunch set menu
Carton King - My Set Lunch (yummy!)
Carton King - Exterior view
Note that the entrance to this Carton King restaurant is on the left. Take the stairs on the left to the 2nd Floor, passed by the "bees".

After the satisfying lunch, remembered to redeem the tickets for the Small Swiss Garden. The Minsu staff (aka driver) said that he would pick us up at 1.30pm at the entrance of the Carton King. So, we quickly toured the Small Swiss Garden. It was not a big garden and we managed to "see see look look" and also took pictures within half an hour. The weather was quite unpredictable and started raining.

Small Swiss Garden
At about 1.40pm, the driver came and picked us up. He drove us to the Cingjing Farm (清境农场).

Cingjing Farm - slightly misty due to the rain
We shouldn't have gone to Cingjing Farm when it was raining. There was nothing much to see in the rain and you would not be able to take good photos. Furthermore the land would be muddy and slippery. In the end, we decided not to buy the entry tickets and just do our shopping at the castle store.

We waited for the rain to stop and walked downhill. In my opinion, it was quite dangerous to walk on the narrow roadside. We reached the mid way point and there was this resting area (this area is at the lower end of the farm near the exit). It might be due to the rain, many stalls were closed. We bought a pear 雪梨 from a store and later then we realised that the stall had overcharged us.

雪梨 (overpriced in this stall - beware!)
As  we approached the pathway to the main road to get a taxi, we saw this ice-cream stall and we bought 4 ice-creams.

Nice ice-cream!
The taxi ride is about NT$200 (just less than 5 mins drive), so we shared among the four of us. There is another transportation which is about NT$50 per person, however, according to the taxi driver, it is not safe as there is no insurance coverage for the van type if there is an accident. So, if you want to take the van sharing with strangers, please be careful. My advice is to take the taxi which is safer (for insurance coverage).

The day is shorter during this period. The sky darkens at around 5.30pm. We went back to the hotel and enjoyed a brief view from the balcony of the hotel. Strange, it was not raining at the hotel which is just 5 minutes away from the Cingjing Farm.

Mountain view from Sunnydale Minsu
View of the Old England Hotel from Sunnydale Minsu
Before it got darker, we walked uphill from the Minsu for a couple of minutes, there is a 7-11 store. We bought beers and tidbits to enjoy in the Minsu. At the 7-11 store, there are interesting and beautiful flowers to enjoy…

Purple and black flowers - Can anyone identify this?
Unique flower - suspect it is a type of morning glory?
Complimentary dinner is served at the Minsu from Monday to Thursday. So today happens to be a Thursday and we rushed back to the Minsu for home cooked dinner at 6pm.

Continue my trip at Day 3.

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