Travel in Taiwan (No.98 2020 3/4 )

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2020

MAR & APR

No.

M o dern C it y Taichung Art and Architecture Boutique Hotels Cafés and Restaurants

98

EASY SCENIC TRAIL CAOLING HISTORIC TRAIL ON THE NORTHEAST COAST

FUN TRIP PLAN

EXPLORING GREATER TAICHUNG: HOT SPRING FUN AND BICYCLING

QUICK CITY TOUR

TAOYUAN AIRPORT LAYOVER SUGGESTIONS

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iOS


TAIWAN EVERYTHING EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRAVELING IN TAIWAN!

Find Travel in Taiwan articles published in earlier issues, complemented with colorful images, Google maps, and links to our social media sites, including Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, and informative sites of other bloggers in Taiwan. Check out TAIWANEVERYTHING before you plan your next trip to Taiwan! taiwaneverything.cc Website

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PUBL ISHER 'S NOTE

Welcome to Taiwan! Dear Traveler, In this issue we present you with an intriguing contrast of the urban and rural sides of Taiwan, spending substantial time in both city and countryside. Our key urban target, covered in a trio of articles, is the fast-growing city of Taichung. Taipei may be the political, economic, and cultural heart of Taiwan, but Taichung is the literal “center” – i.e., the name “Taichung” literally means “Taiwan center,” while “Taipei” means “Taiwan north.” One thing that quickly becomes apparent even with a visit of just a couple of days in the Taichung urban core is that this is a city with a passion for good – and novel – modern design. The main article of our Taichung triumvirate is focused on architecture. The city’s core is filling up with structures and public spaces that are designed as works of contemporary art. Among the attractions we visit are the National Taichung Theater, designed by Toyo Ito, winner of a Pritzker Architecture Prize, and the soon-to-open Shuinan Central Park, designed by celebrated French landscape architect Catherine Mosbach and Swiss architect Philippe Rahm. Our second article looks at Taichung’s burgeoning corps of chic theme-design boutique hotels. Among those you’ll sample is a hotel that looks like a Red Dot Design Museum and a hotel that is built around Asia’s deepest artificial pool, designed for scuba-diving and freediving. Our third file dives into the city’s wonderful world of eclectic cafés and restaurants. One of the eateries you’ll visit is a heritage shophouse that’s been completely “reversed”; one of the cafés is in a space that looks like a church from the future. In our Fun Trip Plan section we probe sprawling Taichung’s rural eastern districts, including hot-spring bathing in the mountains, a relaxing bikeway jaunt, and time at a mushroom farm. Quick City Tour presents you with a whirlwind intro of places to visit during a layover at Taoyuan International Airport outside Taipei, using the convenient airport metro line and half-day guided bus tours available from both terminals. And in Easy Scenic Trails we conquer the Caoling Historic Trail on the Northeast Coast, one of the north’s most popular hikes, which serves up thrilling mountain and ocean vistas. Carpe diem! Seize the day(s), with Taiwan as your platform!

JOE Y. CHOU PH.D. DIRECTOR GENERAL TOURISM BUREAU, MOTC, R.O.C. TR AVEL I N TAIWAN

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Travel in

Taiwan 2020 MARCH/APRIL

台 灣 觀 光 雙 月刊 Travel in Taiwan The Official Bimonthly English Magazine of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (Advertisement) MARCH/APRIL, 2020 Tourism Bureau, MOTC First published Jan./Feb. 2004 ISSN: 18177964 GPN: 2009305475 Price: NT$200

中華郵政台北雜字第1286號執照登記為雜誌交寄

Copyright @ 2020 Tourism Bureau. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without written permission is prohibited.

ON THE COVER Luce Chapel, Tunghai University in Taichung City (photo by Aska Chi)

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PUBLISHER Joe Y. Chou EDITING CONSULTANT T. C. Chou PUBLISHING ORGANIZATION TAIWAN TOURISM BUREAU, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS CONTACT International Division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Add: 9F, 290 Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10694, TAIWAN Tel: 886-2-2349-1500 Fax: 886-2-2771-7036 E-mail: tbroc@tbroc.gov.tw Website: http://taiwan.net.tw PRODUCER Vision Creative Marketing & Media Co. ADDRESS 1F, No. 5, Aly. 20, Ln. 265, Sec. 4, Xinyi Rd., Taipei City 10681, Taiwan TEL: 886-2-2325-2323 Fax: 886-2-2701-5531 E-MAIL: editor@v-media.com.tw GENERAL MANAGER David Hu EDITOR IN CHIEF Johannes Twellmann ENGLISH EDITOR Rick Charette DIRECTOR OF PLANNING & EDITING DEPT Joe Lee MANAGING EDITOR Regina Chuang EDITORS Masako Takada, Yvette Chan CONTRIBUTORS Rick Charette, Owain Mckimm, Han Cheung PHOTOGRAPHERS Chen Cheng-kuo, Ray Chang, Aska Chi DESIGNERS Ian Tsai , Nell Huang, Hsieh Yun-jhen ADMINISTRATIVE DEPT Lily Wan, Hui-chun Tsai, Nai-jen Liu, Xiou Mieng Jiang, Sophie Chen

This magazine is printed on FSC TM COC certified paper. Any product with the FSC TM logo on it comes from a forest that has been responsibly maintained and harvested in a sustainable manner.

MAGAZINE IS SOLD AT: 1. Wu-Nan Culture Plaza, No. 6, Zhongshan Rd., Central Dist., Taichung City 40043 886-4-2226-0330 http://www.wunanbooks.com.tw/ 2. National Bookstore, 1F., No. 209, Songjiang Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10485 886-2-2518-0207 http://www.govbooks.com.tw/ WHERE YOU CAN PICK UP A COPY OF TRAVEL IN TAIWAN ABROAD Offices of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and London. Taiwan Representative Offices; Overseas Offices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs; Overseas Offices of the Central News Agency; onboard China Airlines, EVA Air, and other selected international airways; selected travel agencies in Asia, North America, and Europe; and other organizations. IN TAIWAN Tourism Bureau Visitor Center; Tourism Bureau; Taiwan Visitors Association; foreign representative offices in Taiwan; Tourism Bureau service counters at Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport and Kaohsiung Int’l Airport; major tourist hotels; Taipei World Trade Center; VIP lounges of international airlines; major tourist spots in Taipei; visitor centers of cities and counties around Taiwan; offices of national scenic area administrations; public libraries ONLINE Read Travel in Taiwan online at https://issuu.com/ travelintaiwan. You can also download the Travel in Taiwan app for iOS and Android by scanning one of the following QR codes:

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Contents 22 36

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QUICK CITY TOUR TAIWAN YEAR OF MOUNTAIN LAYOVER IN TAIWAN? Things to Do Close to TOURISM Taoyuan Int'l Airport THE MOUNTAINS ARE CALLING! Great Areas to Hike Around the Island

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PUBLISHER'S NOTE

TAICHUNG

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GENTEEL, OFTEN ECLECTIC, ALWAYS FETCHING The Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Public Spaces of Taichung City

TAIWAN TOURISM EVENTS

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TAICHUNG

TRAVEL NEWS

THE JOYS OF ECLECTICISM

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Taichung’s Cafés and Restaurants

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CONVENIENT TRAVEL

TAICHUNG

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FIND THE PERSONALITY THAT PERFECTLY FITS YOUR OWN

CULTURE AND ART

Taichung’s Stylish Boutique Hotels

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SILVERGRASS WAVING IN THE WIND

MUSHROOM AND MOUNTAIN COUNTRY

Hiking the Caoling Historic Trail on the Northeast Coast

Exploring the Eastern Countryside Districts of Taichung City

EASY SCENIC TRAILS

FUN TRIP PLAN

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TA I WA N TOUR ISM E V ENTS

SPRING IS IN THE AIR!

March | May

Taiwan Tourism Events Calendar Website

Celebrating the Birthday of Deities and Appreciating Floral Beauty

TAICHUNG CITY March ~ April

TAICHUNG CITY MAZU INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 臺中媽 祖國 際 觀 光 文化 節

Among the main deities worshipped in Taiwan, Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea, is arguably the most important. There are hundreds of temples on the island dedicated to the goddess, and elaborate festivals are held to celebrate her birthday (23 rd day of 3 rd lunar month; April 15th this year). The biggest and best-known Mazu event is the annual Mazu Pilgrimage in central Taiwan, starting at Taichung’s Zhenlan Temple in Dajia District. Before and during the pilgrimage, endless fascinating religious ceremonies and rituals can be witnessed as part of the Taichung City Mazu International Festival. travel.taichung.gov.tw; www.dajiamazu.org.tw

CITIES AND COUNTIES AROUND TAIWAN March ~ May

HAKKA TUNG BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 客家桐 花 祭

While tung trees are to be found predominantly in northwest Taiwan (Taoyuan/Hsinchu/Miaoli), this festival celebrating the annual bloom of the trees includes activities in almost all counties and cities around the island. This is the time to walk along forest trails and take pictures of the blossoms, with the trees (and also the ground) appearing as though covered in snow. The festival is also a celebration of Hakka culture; the tung blossom is a widely used floral symbol of the Hakka people. tung.hakka.gov.tw

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KAOHSIUNG CITY March/April

SONG-JIANG BATTLE ARRAY IN NEIMEN, KAOHSIUNG 高 雄 內門 宋 江 陣

Not much of tourist interest goes on in Kaohsiung’s quiet rural district of Neimen for most of the year, but there is one exception, the annual Song-Jiang Battle Array event. This week-long festival, a mix of religious rituals and sports-like competition, brings together groups of young performers from around Taiwan, who converge on Neimen to show off their troupe-array martial-arts skills and compete against each other. The festival is a fantastic spectacle, packed with exciting and at times highly acrobatic performances that are accompanied by the sound of drums and other traditional instruments. www.who-ha.com.tw


M A RCH - M AY

TAIPEI CITY April ~ June

BAOSHENG CULTURAL FESTIVAL 保生 文化 祭

If you have time for just one temple visit during your next trip to Taipei, consider making it the Dalongdong Bao’an Temple. The main deity worshipped in this complex, which received a UNESCO Award for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2003, is the Baosheng Emperor, also known as the God of Medicine. The Baosheng Cultural Festival, held each year around the deity’s birthday (15th day of 3 rd lunar month; April 7th this year), includes many interesting events and activities over a span of several weeks, including street parades and martial-arts performances. www.baoan.org.tw

PENGHU COUNTY April ~ June

PENGHU INTERNATIONAL FIREWORKS FESTIVAL 澎 湖 國 際 海上花火 節

Fireworks shows are usually one-time annual events to celebrate an occasion such as New Year’s Eve or National Day – but not this festival. For more than two months, the sky over Magong Harbor is “set on fire,” color fully and spectacularly, each Monday and Thursday. Happening prior to the hot-summer peak season on these tourist-friendly islands, the festival is like a welcoming gift for early birds who come to spend some time in Penghu in the late spring/ early summer. Making the fireworks especially memorable are the beautifully illuminated Rainbow Bridge and the colorful reflections on the sea water. www.penghu-nsa.gov.tw

TAIPEI CITY March ~ April

ZHUZIHU CALLA LILY FESTIVAL 竹子湖 海 芋 季

While some withered blossoms on Yangmingshan National Park’s cherry trees and azalea bushes still hang on to branches after the earlyspring bloom, in March and April flower lovers turn their attention to a different type of floral beauty in this mountainous area. Their purewhite petals and elegant shape make calla lilies a favorite among flower aficionados and sweetheart couples. Many visitors flock to the flower fields of Zhuzihu, a small basin area within the national park used for agriculture, to pick their own flowers, take photos, and enjoy the enchanting scenery. www.callalily.com.tw

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QU ICK CIT Y TO U R / TAOY UA N A IRPOR T

Layover in Taiwan? Things to Do Close to Taoyuan Int'l Airport TE X T & PHOTOS V I S I O N

Taoyuan International is Taiwan’s main international transportation hub, and as such is a very busy place with travelers from around the world arriving and departing. Many come, wait for their next flight to another destination, and go without stepping outside the airport. If you have a longer layover planned in Taoyuan, here are some things you might want to do instead of just killing time inside your terminal.

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or those who don’t want to venture out and explore Taiwan on their own, guided half-day tours are available from the airport’s two terminals, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning tour takes you to two towns (districts in New Taipei City) close to the airport. The first, Sanxia, is known for its well-preserved Old Street and the Qingshui Zushi Temple; the second, Yingge, is the most important center for pottery in Taiwan. For more information about these tours, visit eng.taiwan.net. tw/tour/index.htm.

MRT Taoyuan Airport Line In service since 2017, this metro line has made getting to downtown Taipei and to the Taoyuan high-speed rail station much smoother and more convenient than taking the bus. There are two types of trains, Express and Commuter. Between the airport and Taipei Main Station, Express trains only stop at two stations (Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and New Taipei Industrial Park). If you want to get off and visit places close to any of the other stations, you have to take a Commuter train.

1. Global Mall Linkou A9 Taoyuan Airport MRT A9 Linkou Station (4 stations from Airport Terminal 1) If you want to find out what a mall in Taiwan looks like, take the MRT line to Linkou Station. Global Mall Linkou A9, one of seven Global Mall branches in Taiwan, is directly connected to the MRT station; it’s easy to find, and you don’t have to go outside. There is a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options inside the mall, including bakeries, a children’s play area, a food court with international restaurants, and the Jungle Park. The 4-story mall is not especially large, but it certainly gives you more options for whiling away the time between flights than the airport facilities. www.twglobalmall.com No. 2, Sec. 1, Wenhua 3rd Rd., Linkou District, New Taipei City ( 新北市林口區文化三路一段 2 號 )

2. Mitsui Outlet Park If you bring a little more time and you fancy a big shopping spree, about 600m from the Global Mall, along Wenhua 3rd Rd., is the Mitsui Outlet Park, one of two such parks in Taiwan (the other is near Taichung Port). Operated by the Japanese Mitsui Group, the mall was opened in 2016 and has indoor and outdoor segments, with a large number of shops selling international brands and restaurants serving excellent food. There is also a movie theater on the third floor of the complex. www.mop.com.tw No. 356, Sec. 1, Wenhua 3rd Rd., Linkou District, New Taipei City ( 新北市林口區文化三路一段 356 號 ) 06

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QU ICK CIT Y TO U R / TAOY UA N A IRPOR T

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Airport Terminal 1

A11 Kengkou Station

Shanbi Station 05

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Linkou Station

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to Taipei City

3. Zhulinshan Guanyin Temple If shopping is not your thing and you’d rather spend some time learning about local culture and religion, there is a large Buddhist temple complex in Linkou that might be of interest to you. Located about 4km (10 minutes by taxi) from MRT Linkou Station, Zhulinshan Guanyin Temple is a large Buddhist temple dating from 1939. The main deity worshipped, alongside a host of other deities, is the Eighteen-Armed Guanyin Bodhisattva. The temple is an excellent example of southern Chinese temple architecture. The cypress altar in the main hall, measuring nearly 13 meters, is currently the longest such altar in Taiwan. Facing one side of the temple is the spacious Zhulinshan Temple Park, great for strolling about and taking photos.

4. Lao Zhan Yuan Ramen King A short walk south of Zhulinshan Guanyin Temple, this is a very popular noodle restaurant, serving beef and mutton noodles. A typical no-frills eatery, this is a great option if you want to eat local-style. Since it mainly caters to local diners, there is no English menu (the two items at the top of the menu are beef noodles, NT$130, and mutton noodles, NT$110). Side dishes, self-chosen from the fridge, are NT$30 each.

www.zlskyt.com.tw (Chinese) No. 325, Zhulin Rd., Linkou District, New Taipei City ( 新北市林口區竹林路 325 號 )

No. 120, Linkou Rd., Linkou District, New Taipei City ( 新北市林口區林口路 120 號 )

5. Dexin Residence Taoyuan Airport MRT A10 Shanbi Station (2 stations from Airport Terminal 1) Just two metro stations from the airport is tiny Shanbi Station. There is not much to see or do around this station, but walk for about five minutes south along Nanshan Road and you’ll come to the century-old Dexin Residence, a fine example of a simple redbrick courtyard residence. The swallow-tail roof of this Taoyuan City third-grade historic site is a rarity in northern Taiwan.

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6. Kengkou Village Taoyuan Airport MRT A11 Kengkou Station (1 station from Airport Terminal 1) Just one station from the airport is Kengkou Station. Get off here and walk north for about 15 minutes, following Kengkou Road, to reach Kengkou Village and you will get a taste of what rural Taiwan is like. You will pass rice fields on both sides of the road, and at the village you will find cute murals depicting rural scenes and – surprise, surprise – two giant dinosaurs. ENGLISH AND CHINESE Dexin Residence 德馨堂 Kengkou Village 坑口村 Lao Zhan Yuan Ramen King 老占元拉麵大王 Zhulinshan Guanyin Temple 竹林山觀音寺

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TA I WA N Y E A R OF M O U NTA IN TO U R ISM

The

Mountains Are

TE X T & PHOTOS V I S ION

Alishan National Scenic Area 阿里山國家風景區

Calling!

Nenggao Historic Trail (Qingjing Farm) 能高越嶺古道 ( 清境農場 )

Great Areas to Hike Around the Island

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uring 2020, the Taiwan Year of Mountain Tourism, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is promoting areas around the island that are popular with hiking enthusiasts. Exploring Taiwan’s mountains allows you to experience incredibly scenic vistas, immerse yourself in rich natural habitats, visit indigenous communities, and also learn a thing or two about local history. The following mountain areas are highly recommended for unforgettable hiking and trekking adventures.

Taroko Gorge and Mt. Hehuan If you have time for just one of Taiwan’s many scenic and natural wonders on your next visit, make it the Taroko Gorge in Hualien County. Most tourists will be content with looking at this amazingly deep and narrow gorge from the highway that snakes through it; others will opt for walking an easy trail or two within this geological wonder, such as the Shakadang Trail. If you want to see the gorge from high above, however, and you are not afraid of heights, consider the Zhuilu Historic Trail, a truly spectacular narrow path along a sheer cliff face about 500m above the bottom of the gorge. For more information about this trail and how to apply for permits, etc., visit www. taroko.gov.tw. After traversing the chasm, from Taroko Gorge’s western end Provincial Highway No. 8 winds its way up to the dizzying heights of the Central Mountain Range, a route beloved by bicyclists who like to test their physical limits. The highway connects to No. 14a, which brings you to the verdant slopes of Mt. Hehuan, a mountain that soars past 3,000m high (main peak 3,417m) with peaks that can be easily reached on short hikes starting at the highway. For more info about Mt. Hehuan, read the last issue of Travel in Taiwan at: issuu.com/ travelintaiwan.

Nenggao Historic Trail About 25km south of Mt. Hehuan, this trail, starting at the hot-spring village of Lushan, is another attractive Central Mountain Range route. The trail is not too difficult, and presents you with the opportunity to take in splendid

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scenery and at the same time learn about the island’s history (the trail was once an important hunting path of the Sediq indigenous tribe, and was later used to facilitate maintenance on a high-voltage power line connecting the western and eastern parts of the island).

Mt. Jade & Alishan Mt. Jade (Yushan; main peak 3,952m), Taiwan’s highest mountain, is not only fairly easy to scale but also presents you with breathtaking alpine scenery along the way. Because of its popularity, the mounta in ha s a well-ma inta ined tra il network and comfortable accommodation facilities. At the same time, however, one drawback regarding Mt. Jade is directly connected with this popularity. Reserving space in Yushan’s main mountain cabin (Paiyun Cottage) can be tricky. Joining a hiking trip by a certified operator who can handle all the formalities is therefore highly recommended. Yushan National Park website: www.ysnp.gov.tw. The trailhead for Mt. Jade is at the Tataka Recreation Area on Prov. Hwy No. 21. This highway (becomes No. 18 further south) connects to the Alishan National Scenic Area (www.ali-nsa.net), another mountain and forest area that attracts mounta in-loving tourists. Combining a hike of Mt. Jade with exploration of the forests of Alishan is a great way to experience the highly varied landscapes of Taiwan’s central mountains.

Taroko National Park (Zhuilu Historic Trail) 太魯閣國家公園 ( 錐鹿古道 )

Alishan Forest Recreation Area

Mt. Hehuan

Taroko Gorge

Yushan National Park (Mt. Jade) 玉山國家公園


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NEWS & Events around Taiwan

Photo courtesy of Starlux Airlines

TAIWAN'S NEWEST AIRLINE, STARLUX

TOURISM BUREAU OPENS OFFICE IN THE UK

A new player on the Taiwan aviation field has arrived, with flights commencing this January. Starlux Airlines, dubbed Taiwan's first luxury boutique carrier, has announced it will initially focus on the Southeast Asia market, offering the following three routes: Taipei-Macau (China), Taipei-Penang (Malaysia), and Taipei-Danang (Vietnam). The airline, founded by Chang Kuo-wei, the youngest son of late Evergreen Group and EVA Airways founder Chang Yungfa, is flying a new generation of passenger aircraft, including the Airbus A321neo and A350-1000. The corporation has plans to expand its fleet to 27 aircraft by the end of 2024 and 50 by the end of 2030.

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau recently opened a new office in England's capital. The London office, the second in Europe after Frankfurt, was established to facilitate the cooperation of UK-based travel agencies and tour operators with Taiwan counterparts. The number of visitors to Taiwan from the UK has been on the rise; in 2019 about 70,000 arrivals were recorded (+8% compared to the previous year), and the Tourism Bureau is targeting a further increase in 2020, to reach 100,000 visitors.

www.starlux-airlines.com

Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung City Government

NIGHT MARKET STALLS OFFERING HALAL FOOD Accommodating the needs of visitors from Muslim countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, has been a high priority in tourism-promotion efforts in Taiwan in recent years. Many businesses in the hospitality industry have already adjusted their services and facilities in order to accommodate the needs of Muslim travelers, and have received coveted "Muslim-friendly" certificates for meeting strict requirements. To make it easier for tourists to find Halal-certified food in Kaohsiung's large Liuhe Night Market, the International Muslim Tourism Industry Development Association is now collaborating with street-food vendors there, helping them to meet halal requirements. Among the vendors who have already received official certificates are stall-owners selling papaya milk, soybean pudding, cheese shrimp quail eggs, sugar-coated sweet potato, stinky tofu, and grilled corn. For more info about Muslim-friendly businesses in Taiwan, visit taiwanhalal.com.

TAIWAN, AN ECO-FRIENDLY “GREEN” DESTINATION A fun place to visit, and a destination that has rapidly turned from a wellkept secret into a world-renowned destination in recent years, Taiwan is an exotic and traditional, yet at the same time modern and advanced, land attracting visitors from around the globe. If proof is needed that Taiwan is also on par with countries taking sustainability and protection of the environment seriously, take it from the jury of the 2019 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards (travelweeklyawards.com), which chose Taiwan as runnerup in the Asia – Eco-Friendly "Green" Destination category. This award in particular honors the island's commitment and dedication to creating an island-wide network of bike paths and bike routes, facilitating bicycling and encouraging both local residents and foreign visitors alike to explore this beautiful land on two wheels.

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TA ICH U NG / A R T & A RCHITEC T U R E

Genteel, Often Eclectic,

Always Fetching The Contemporary Art, Architecture, and Public Spaces of Taichung City TE X T RICK CH A RE T TE

National Taichung Theater

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PHOTOS AS K A CHI , V I S ION


TA ICH U NG / A R T & A RCHITEC T U R E

Spend a spell in a city sprouting architecture both genteel and eclectic, and a love of art in public spaces and public spaces as art.

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eizing the title long held by the city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan’s deep south, Taichung is now Taiwan’s “Second City” behind Taipei, in recent years surpassing it in population. This is a city with big ambitions. Long an urban agglomeration with an unusual hybrid blue-collar/ academia character, serving the light-industry factories that helped power the iconic Taiwan Economic Miracle of the 20th century’s latter half and also home to numerous universities, Taichung is fast reinventing itself as a city of dynamic cultural sophistication.

Every where you look, it seems, you see cranes and crews sculpting new buildings, fixing up and prettifying old ones, and creating new park space. The onus, as you’ll find on an exploratory visit, is on genteel architecture and on contemporary art both inside and outside public spaces, both often gleefully eclectic. This is a city designed for exploration of your five senses – and as you’ll see below, perhaps quite a few more too. Over the past two decades the city administration has stressed cultural innovation and the incubation of a “cultural economy,” seeking transformation into an international city of cultural and economic significance. Systematic effort has been given to birthing top-quality cultural and recreational venues and activities designed both to heighten appreciation of arts and culture among the general public and, notably, direct participation. The lofty goal, as expressed in promotional materials, is metamorphosis into an “Oriental Vienna.” T he private sec tor ha s joi ned t he movement w it h enthusiasm, big f irms launching sleek and often highly iconoclastic skyscrapers and high-rises and, on a more downto-earth scale, owners of small boutique hotels, cafés, and restaurants giving their locations personalities so unique you’re sure not to find anything similar on your travels elsewhere through Taiwan – and the big wide world, for that matter. In this article we’ll dive into the city investigating some of the most attractive and popular large-scale attractions.

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Faux façade of Gymnasium

Asia University It’s not common that the campus of a school is a tourist attraction, but Taichung has two such landscaped oases of learning. We start with the younger of the two, Asia University, located south of the city center in semi-rural Wufeng District. Founded in 2001, in international surveys it has been declared one of the best young universities around the globe. The garden-style campus was designed as an expression of love for art and aesthetic living. The hope is that students, whatever their curriculum and career choices, will acquire this same love and take it out into the wider world after graduation as they emerge in larger society as influence makers. Architecturally, classical Greek-Roman elements dominate. The main building, which can be seen from miles around, is the monolithic Administration Building. Built in grand European-palace style, rotunda topped with a huge, solemn green dome and fronted by a grand staircase and Corinthian colonnade, it evokes the august visage of key portal buildings at some of the world’s oldest, greatest universities. Of the other classical-style creations, perhaps most striking is the Gymnasium, which sports a faux façade in the style of the Colosseum in Rome.

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Asia University Museum of Modern Art


TA ICH U NG / A R T & A RCHITEC T U R E

A striking design contrast is seen in the Asia University Museum of Modern Art, which faces the Administration Building. Designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, this is a futuristic concrete-and-steel structure of massive triangular shapes that looks like a Star Wars spaceship about to launch.

Asia University Museum of Modern Art

Two other nearby attractions are must-visits should you ever f ind yourself in Wufeng District. Wufeng Lin Family Mansion and Garden is a sprawling complex of traditional courtyard-style residential buildings – Taiwan’s largest, most complete, and most elaborate, dating back to the mid-1800s. Severely damaged in 1999’s massive 921 Earthquake, faithful reconstruction has restored much of its glory. T he centerpiece of t he 921 E a r t hqua ke Museum of Taiwan is Guangfu Junior High School, ripped apart in the quake attack, an ugly 2m-high displacement in view on the school track. Inside a newly-built dedicated museum facility with an exterior of sleek, slicing minimalist lines is the Quake Experience T he ater, w h ic h si mu l ate s w h at Wu fen g residents experienced.

ASIA UNIVERSITY ( 亞洲大學 ) (04) 2332-3456 www.asia.edu.tw No. 500, Liufeng Rd., Wufeng District, Taichung City ( 台中市霧峰區柳豐路 500 號 ) Administration Building

WUFENG LIN FAMILY MANSION AND GARDEN ( 霧峰林家宅園 ) (04) 2331-7985 wufenglins.com.tw (Chinese) No. 26, Minsheng Rd., Wufeng District, Taichung City ( 台中市霧峰區民生路 26 號 ) 921 EARTHQUAKE MUSEUM OF TAIWAN ( 九二一地震教育園區 ) (04) 2339-0906 www.facebook.com/921emtFANS No. 192, Xinsheng Rd., Wufeng District, Taichung City ( 台中市霧峰區新生路 192 號 )

Administration Building rotunda

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Tunghai University Tu n g h a i Un i ver sit y w a s f ou nd e d by Me t ho d i s t missionaries in the mid-1950s. Its campus, spread out on the gentle east slope of the Dadu Plateau in Xitun District, faces east toward the city core. When founded it sat out in open countryside, but busy Taichung has grown past and enveloped it within a much-expanded urban core. Nevertheless, within the perimeter walls you’ll find a sprawling, tree-shaded oasis of calm. A great many buildings in the heavily wooded 139ha grounds are in the style of the Tang Dynasty, China’s golden age of arts and culture – square, squat, and colonnaded. The style is markedly subdued and elegant in comparison to the ebullient and, some might say, sometimes garish styling of the Ming and Qing periods. The most poetic of the Tang-style settings is found on Wenli Boulevard, a sloping pedestrian-only walkway lined each side with Tang-style halls. The intersecting branches of the large banyan tress that run along the walkway’s edges create a pleasing tunnel effect and hushed ambience. A modernist contrast is provided nearby by the abstract Luce Memorial Chapel, built in 1963, co-designed by renowned Sino-American architect I.M. Pei to look like a pair of upraised hands touching in prayer. (Pei was also one of the original campus-design architects.) The chapel was named after an American missionary who was the father of TIME magazine founder Henry Luce. The sanctuary and large lawn it sits on, which lay at the physical heart of the campus, form its hub and focal point.

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Tunghai Dairy ice cream


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Wenli Boulevard

Be sure to visit the Tunghai Dairy – the university runs an experimental farm, and its dairy products are known island-wide. The bright and airy shop, which has a cutesy dairy-cow decorative theme, is housed in a handsome dedicated concrete/ steel/glass modernistic building. The delicious treats on sale include silky-creamy milk, yogurt, ice cream, pudding, cream puffs, and cheese. A personal thankyou can be given to some of the black-and-white academia-land bovines that have contributed so generously to your palate’s pleasure with a walk to nearby pens, located along another of the university’s tree-tunnel thoroughfares. TUNGHAI UNIVERSITY ( 東海大學 ) (04) 2359-0121 www.thu.edu.tw No. 1727, Sec. 4, Formosa Blvd., Xitun District, Taichung City ( 台中市西屯區台灣大道四段 1727 號 ) Dairy cows

Luce Memorial Chapel

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National Taichung Theater This transcendent architectural work, also in Xitun District, has been described as “central Taiwan’s growth garden for worldclass stage arts.” Opened in 2016, the ostentatious complex is a bold design statement that visually dominates its surrounding environment while simultaneously seamlessly blending with it. The NTT’s designated societal role is just as bold – to serve as central Taiwan’s international-class showcase stage for the stage arts. The architect was Toyo Ito, Pritzker A rchitecture Prize winner. The main structure challenges traditional theater design, redefining the role of public space. Most theaters separate interior and acoustic design from the main exterior architectural design, but the renowned architect perceived the complex as something alive – a breathing organism alive with free-flowing thought and artistic spirit – and decided on seamlessly intertwining all elements. In the same way that acoustic waves flow freely, Ito emphasized curving lines outside and inside, like water flowing along a river. He also envisioned the complex as a whirlpool amidst a river – i.e., a whirlpool of ideas. A linear park located before the complex flows figuratively like a river right past its front plaza and fountain “into” the building. Emulating the fountain, the façade’s curvilinear shapes form stylized whirlpool-style jets of water shooting into the air.

Inside the theater building

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Any sense of “outside/inside” separation has been eliminated. Glass is liberally used in the façade, allowing the greenway “river” to stream right inside. The same stone tiling is used in the outdoor plaza and lobby, with no visual separation, a small stream flows right into (using visual trickery) and through the lobby area, and the internal walls/ ceilings are seamlessly curved in tube-like fashion for a natural-lit cave-like effect, enhancing the outside/inside natural-environment continuum. This subconsciously invites members of the local community to stream in, uninhibited by any “high arts” aura. The curved, f lowing interior walls also act both as sound insulators and acoustic ref lectors. Symbolically, they evoke the streaming of the f low of creative ideas, and the pathways within the arteries of a living organism. The NTT has multiple performance spaces, including three firstclass theaters, a multifunctional corner salon, and a triumvirate of outdoor spaces specially designed to host live-art and other cultural events: the Plaza, Outdoor Theater, and rooftop Sky Garden. NATIONAL TAICHUNG THEATER ( 臺中國家歌劇院 ) (04) 2251-1777 www.npac-ntt.org No. 101, Sec. 2, Huilai Rd., Xitun District, Taichung City ( 台中市西屯區惠來路二段 101 號 )

NTT Auditorium

NTT façade

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Botanical Garden

Fulfillment Amphitheater / Botanical Garden / Kong-Ke Museum The architectural siren in Wenxin Forest Park, in Xitun District, is the Fulfillment Amphitheater, which sports a soaring, gleaming-white roof and is designed to resemble an ancient European colosseum in highly stylized form. The facility covers almost 820sqm, and has a roof 11.5m high, a stage width of 51m, tiered seating for thousands, and room for thousands more on the surrounding higher grassy areas. Uses at the much-in-demand venue have ranged from a free mini-concert by Lady Gaga to community concerts with hundreds of city residents performing in small groups – singing, street dancing, Chinese erhu music, live bands, and even string quartets – before large and appreciative crowds of fellow residents. The sprawling National Museum of Natural Science was Taiwan’s first science museum. This world-class facility has halls with space, science, life sciences, human cultures, and global environment as theme. The museum’s adjoining Botanical Garden is a mini-forest of endemic Taiwan plants interlaced with cool, shady walkways.

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A transparent glass structure with exposed steel-pipe framing that resembles a giant vat soars above the treetops in the forest’s center – the Tropical Rainforest Conservatory. Here, step into a lush simulated tropical rainforest complete with lofty waterfall, orchid wall, and intermittent “rain” (i.e., a moisture-spray system). Over 300 species of flowering plants are on display. Two startling curiosities are the 14m-long aquarium filled with giant Amazon fish species, most unnervingly the incredible, massive arapaima. Another, smaller aquarium is home to a nasty-looking piranha squadron, separated from their smaller, colorful tropical neighbors by an unseen glass pane. The public artwork-gilded Calligraphy Greenway is a thin greenbelt that stretches south 3.6km from the science museum. What is called the CMP Block is beside the greenway just north of large, lawnbedecked Civic Square, one of the venues for the beloved annual international Taichung Jazz Festival. A broad-shouldered building Kong-Ke Museum

Fulfillment Amphitheater

complex is going up on the block, and CMP has reserved a corner for the ingenious-design Kong-Ke Museum. Its glass-wall home is in the first two levels of exposed steel-frame girders of what will eventually become a high-rise. The museum celebrates the “culture of the construction crew,” with an exhibit at time of writing on the colorful road-safety dummies that workers love to dress up in the same expressive way farmers around the world deck out their scarecrows. Also on the first level is an open-concept kitchen/cafeteria serving lunchbox meals to on-site work-crew members, who enter through a rear door. Calligraphy Greenway

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE (04) 2322-6940 www.nmns.edu.tw No. 1, Guanqian Rd., North District, Taichung City ( 台中市北區館前路一號 )

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Shuinan Central Park Shuinan Central Park is at the heart of Xitun District’s Shuinan Economic and Trade Park (a.k.a. Taichung Gateway Park). The gateway park is on the site of the former Shuinan Airport, constructed by the Japanese for military and civilian use during their 1895-1945 period of colonial rule. In the post-war years it long served as the key facility for Taiwan’s aerospace industry. Work on the gateway park began in 2010, on Central Park mid-decade, the latter now nearing completion. The Central Park was designed by celebrated French landscape architect Catherine Mosbach and Swiss architect Philippe Rahm. The 67ha greenspace is a long, twisting north-south greenway interlaced with walkways and bike paths. A total of over 12,000 trees have been planted in this urban eco-model zone, a little over 80% from indigenous species. About 1,600 big shade trees that for the most part date back to the Japanese era have also been saved. As the new trees mature, the arboreal densification will transform the park into the “green lungs of Taichung,” says the city government.

Stylish pavilion inside the park

Shuinan Central Park

The park is also a smart, innovative low-carbon zone with such features as 10,000sqm of solar panels, smart street lighting, and a central monitoring system. Five water-regeneration eco-ponds have been created to collect rainwater for reuse in nurturing the park’s plant life. Colored lights differentiate the main pathways through the linear park at night. Festooned with clever, compelling public artworks, the park has different areas for sports, relaxation, and family activities. Twelve attractive-architecture pavilions are strung out like a north-south string of pearls, each a sensory-experience window into one of the “12 senses” that are part of Waldorf Education’s philosophical concept. These relate to perception of the body (touch, life, movement, balance), external world (smell, taste, sight, temperature), and immaterial, spiritual world (hearing, speech, thought, ego). By way of example, the “Self-exploration” pavilion is a labyrinthine multi-tier see-through structure constructed of vertical wood slats. The “Listening-exploration” pavilion teases the mind with three-note wind chimes. And the “Balanceexploration” stop seems to actually “flow in the air.”

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION There is regular high-speed rail, regular-rail, and intercity bus service into the urban core of Taichung from other major points in Taiwan. Booths for reputable car-rental enterprises are found in the Taichung High-Speed Rail station, and rental outlets for cars, scooters, and bicycles outside Taichung Railway Station. The Englishspeaking staff at the stations' visitor information centers can provide local-transport guidance. These two websites are recommended for more information: taiwan.net.tw (Taiwan Tourism Bureau) and travel.taichung.gov.tw (Taichung Travel Net).

ENGLISH AND CHINESE Asia University Museum of Modern Art 亞洲大學現代美術館 Administration Building 行政大樓 Calligraphy Greenway 草悟道 Civic Square 民廣場 Fulfillment Amphitheatre 圓滿戶外劇場 Gymnasium 體育館 Kong-Ke Museum 工家美術館 Luce Memorial Chapel 路思義教堂 Shuinan Central Park 水湳中央公園

Shuinan Economic and Trade Park 水湳經貿園區 Tropical Rainforest Conservatory 熱帶雨林溫室 Tunghai Dairy 東海大學乳品小棧 Wenli Boulevard 文理大道 Wenxin Forest Park 文心林森公園 Wufeng District 霧峰區 Xitun District 西屯區

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ts n a r u a t Res d n a s and s é f ign café s a e d C e m s Taiwan ng ’ ng’s the Taichu partaking of central eTtaoicahguree with this Trna-vqeul irinky cafés ARE IC K C H TEX T R

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sizable corps of Taichung café and restaurant owners possessing unusual esprit seem to revel in the joys of bursting forth, chrysalis-like, from the straitjacket of conformity. They reject any traditional-cum-mainstream views on what the personality of a café or an eatery should be. As with the city’s creators of stylish boutique hotels (see our second Taichung article in this issue), they are birthing destinations where the premises themselves are a form of aesthetic entertainment. Taichung is growing quickly, and many of these operations are in posh new architecture. Another, inspired approach is to target heritage buildings for do-overs and rebirth with brandnew, off-the-wall personalities. During the last century’s famed Taiwan Economic Miracle the island’s economy expanded at breakneck pace, and locals knocked down old buildings at equal pace to make way for the new. Today there is equal passion for preserving this land’s architectural heritage, and Taichung boasts many fine showcase projects.

for Farm Burger It has to be said – for Farm Burger has done everything backwards. No, wait. That’s a great thing. Trust me.

Healthy-burger meal

The owners have taken a heritage shophouse and reversed it, to dramatic effect. The front is now the back, and the back the front. The simple act of restaurant entry is thus quite an adventure. First, locate the tiny-mouth “back alley” entranceway amidst a line of busy shops and restaurants. It’s then up to the original shophouse rear, on the second floor, via narrow wooden stairs and an iron-railing catwalk. Here you find the service counter. Directly below, on the first floor, is the original kitchen space, now a cozy dining area. The original flooring of Majolica tiles, for which the region was once renowned, remains in place, as does an original back door and, as seen elsewhere throughout, original-brick wall sections. Back upstairs, past the counter, is a narrow passageway leading past the original sky well, now glassed in and tall-tree-beautified. The main dining area then opens up – once the shophouse front, now the eatery rear. Original terrazzo flooring is showcased, and eye-catching additional “floor space” is available along another catwalk attached high on one wall. The signature culinary lure at for Farm Burger is – yes, you guessed it. The owner-operator couple offers Japanese-theme burgers using self-created recipes. In Taiwan, they say, burgers are too often overwhelmed with ketchup or BBQ, black pepper, and mushroom sauce. Their “Japanese” approach emphasizes lighter, subtler f lavor combinations. Use of “for Farm” references their preferred use of highest-quality ingredients from individual regional farms, preferably organic. They specially recommend two burger selections: the (Australian) beef burger with sunny-side-up egg and Japanese teriyaki sauce, and the tofu burger with Japanese miso sauce. Their tofu comes from a Taichung maker, 90 years in the business, that uses classical Chinese methods. Also available are pork-chop, shrimp, and mackerel burgers.

for Farm Burger is in a heritage shophouse

FOR FARM BURGER ( 田楽漢堡 ) (04) 2305-0507 forfarmburger.blogspot.com (Chinese) No. 128, Gongzheng Rd., West District, Taichung City ( 台中市西區公正路 128 號 )

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T&R Plaza Located steps from the linear park that faces the National Taichung Theater (see our first Taichung article), the gorgeous T&R Plaza has been called Taiwan’s most attractive commercial plaza. Like the NTT, the architecture itself is masterly art, and follows a “theater space” design concept. The complex tapers away from the street as it rises, with second-level attractions accessed via a broad stairway leading u p t o a t e r r a c e , e l i m i n a t i n g t he oppressive feeling that block-style highrises hovering above the street give to pedestrians. The judicious liberal use of earth-tone woods and green foliage to beautify the exterior, along with use of wide, tall windows allowing clear viewing of the aesthetic attractions and people action inside, also send strong signals of invitation to passersby.

T&R Plaza Tsutaya Bookstore

The overall impression of the tiering and bright compartmentalized spaces is of a warm and welcoming forest community spread up a hillside. The staircase splays out to either side at the bottom, giving it the stylized look of a stream running down through the hamlet. This imagery is dramatically heightened at night with the theatrical indoor/outdoor lighting fusion. The commercial tenants also form a collective that has special aesthetic appeal. The main tenant, entered via the aforementioned broad wood-plank st a i rc a se, i s t he t wo -f loor Tsut ay a Bookstore. Japan’s Tsutaya chain, which sells art-related titles, is known for sleek store décor, and this outlet is an exhibit on Japanese modern-design sensibilities.

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The book store ha s ma ny communit ywelcoming touches; here are a few of the most prominent. It shares the second floor, seamlessly, with the Wired Tokyo café/ restaurant. Visually separating bookstore and restaurant is a long semi-circular café counter with barstool seating. The restaurant serves Western fare such as burger and pasta creations “with Japanese characteristics.” In the bookstore, the second floor has a large reading area, again barstool-style, replete with hanging plants and recharging stations. The third floor has a kiddie-play corner with parent-reader seating.

Wired Tokyo café

Tsutaya Bookstore

Wu Pao Chun Bakery

Wu Pao Chun Bakery, on the first level, fashions high-quality Europeanst yle breads, ma ny possessing a distinctive Taiwanese character, made with quintessential island-produced ingredients. This chain outlet also crafts many treats available exclusively in Taichung. High-quality importedbean coffees are also sold at the service

counter, which doubles as a beverage/ snack counter. Baker Wu Pao-chun shot to island prominence in 2010 when he won the Master Baker title for bread at the Bakery Masters competition in Paris, for which he created his most famous bread, starring Taiwanese millet wine, dried lychee, and rose petal.

T&R PLAZA (T&R 廣場 ) (04) 2320-3037 www.i-ry.com.tw/tr.php (Chinese) No. 18-1, Shizheng N. 2nd Rd., Xitun District, Taichung City ( 台中市西屯區市政北二路 18-1 號 )

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KafeD

KafeD How in the world to describe what this café looks like from roadside? Here we go. Imagine a la nd a llot ment long a nd ver y na rrow heading away from the curb, something familiar to those of you who’ve explored the region’s shophouse architecture. Here, however, the lot’s front half is “empty” – lawn, trees, bushes, and a straight walkway instead of the usual up-to-sidewalk building. The purpose-built café-dwelling structure in the rear half has, to this writer’s eye, the look of some future-time plastic-façade shrine graced with minimalist arched “holy” portal. With that, we head within. The church-like demeanor is reinforced by the open interior concept, high vaulted ceiling, and 5m-high windows filling walls, through which golden sunlight streams in. A curving staircase leads up to a second-level “inside terrace” that has the look of a church balcony. The affecting façade just spoken of is in fact not the true façade, but a translucent white screen, which softens incoming light. The official theme here is “a little piece of Germany.” The “D” in “kafeD” stands for “Dresden,” which the owner states means “people of the riverside forest.” The flooring, ceiling, terrace, a nd much else is made

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of light-tone woods. The arboreal theme continues with full-wall forest-scene mural artwork and, seen through windows, living trees wherever you look. The café’s international import coffees are prepared using both German single-serving brewing technique and imported German equipment, prepared at the central islandstyle coffee bar. Non-coffee drinks include German-style fruit teas, sodas, and caramel milks. The signature dessert is baumkuchen, which translates literally as “tree cake” – reference to its characteristic tree-like rings. Light meal selections include baumkuchen sandwich creations such as “triple chocolate,” “matcha macadamia,” and “rum raisin,” and ciabatta sandwiches such as “tomato avocado” and “Margarita.” All items are presented with eye-seducing, palate-whetting artistry. Patrons can also savor the pastry-kitchen action through a special viewing window.

KAFED ( 德勒斯登河岸咖啡 ) (04) 2322-2689 www.facebook.com/DasKafeD No. 382, Dajin St., Nantun District, Taichung City ( 台中市南屯區大進街 382 號 )


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Molecure Pharmacy In a swank residential building facing the National Taichung Theater, entered directly from the street, this is a working pharmacy that is also a work of abstract art. White beach cobbles, symbolizing molecules, cover the towering walls on left and right. Medicines in colorful containers, again representing molecular aggregation, are displayed on shelves of transparent lightweight glass and pastel-color acrylic panels. A visually mesmerizing corkscrew staircase made of glowing-burnish copper represents the DNA double-helix structure. The open dispensary area, called the “green laboratory,” features a long wood-built counter on a base made from a century-old tree trunk.

“Molecure” captures the essence of pharmacology – medications are crafted by aggregating molecules, of natural and synthetic creation, to cure ailments. Embracing the concept that health stems from a holistic, aesthetic lifestyle, the owners have also made this a café. Your pharmacists are also baristas, deftly aggregating molecules in premium hand-drip coffees and healthy juices. Mood music permeates the premises, soothing the spirit. MOLECURE PHARMACY ( 分子藥局 ) (04) 2251-5065 www.facebook.com/pg/MolecureTAIWAN No. 236-1, Sec. 2, Huilai Rd., Xitun District, Taichung City ( 台中市西屯區惠來路二段 236-1 號 )

Molecure Pharmacy

THE FACTORY – mojocoffee In Taichung’s core are a number of small neighborhood enclaves filled with fetching two/three-story stand-alone homes, many dating back to when US military personnel were stationed on the island. This quiet, bright-interior café, designed as a reading space, is in one such (refurbished and now “former”) residence. Frequently proclaimed in online reviews to serve Taichung’s best coffee, it sells single-origin coffees from around the globe, and brews each cup individually. Architecturally, its most unusual feature is a tower on one corner of the façade that resembles a church steeple. The tower’s small-pane windows send sunlight streaming into the open-concept interior spaces. Outdoor seating is available on a covered wooden patio beside the small lawn. The interior has a simple cafeteria-like set-up. On both floors are walls of books for patron use, and on the second level staff artisan-roast beans and package some for sale – hence “THE FACTORY.” Among the most popular menu items are the Bruleecino, Affogato al Caffè, and Waffle with Chocolate.

THE FACTORY – mojocoffee

THE FACTORY/ MOJOCOFFEE (04) 2328-9448 www.mojocoffee.com.tw No. 22, Jingcheng 6th St., West District, Taichung City ( 台中市西區精誠六街 22 號 )

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Miyahara

Fourth Credit Union

Fourth Credit Union This combination ice-cream parlor and café is run by the same group that operates Taichung’s famed Miyahara, breathing new life into city heritage buildings (more on the Miyahara outlet below). The group is a maker of highend confections most loved for its ice creams, chocolates, and milk teas. The opulent Fourth Credit Union outlet is in a rejuvenated credit-cooperative building built in 1966, with modern glass-and-steel façade additions dynamically fused with the original exterior. “Fourth Credit Union,” the title of the original tenant, remains emblazoned in Chinese on the facade. Inside, the décor is ostentatious retro, with perhaps the most visually compelling elements such facilities from the original bank operations as the vault doors and both clerk-service and standing counters. The first floor is a delectable ice-cream parlor, with the staff decked out in vintage-day confectionery outfits. A heaven-on-earth 72-flavor array of fresh-batch ice creams is for sale, enticingly presented in the manner of a painter’s palette of intense color splashes. Specially recommended are those made with in-season Taiwan fruits, notably Hami melon, mango, lychee, passionfruit, and banana. There is also an interesting range of tea, coffee, and chocolate flavors, plus a wide range of toppings, sweet through savory, perhaps the most iconic Taiwanese the chunks of traditional Taiwanese wedding cake and pineapple cake. A tranquil, upscale café takes up the second level, offering more decadent house-made goodies such as syrup waffles with little mountains of sweet-thing toppings and traditional Taiwanese savory snacks such as tea eggs and duck wings. There is also a specialty – and very popular – shaved-ice counter. Miyahara, a short walk away on the same street, is in a revivified multistory eye-clinic building constructed during the Japanese colonial era (1927) that was later home to the Taichung Health Bureau. FOURTH CREDIT UNION ( 台中市第四信用合作社 ) (04) 2227-1966 www.facebook.com/tc4cbank No. 72, Zhongshan Rd., Central District, Taichung City ( 台中市中區中山路 72 號 )

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Fourth Credit Union ice treat

Taichung City Molecure Pharmacy

12 T&R Plaza

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MIYAHARA ( 宮原眼科 ) (04) 2227-1927 www.miyahara.com.tw No. 20, Zhongshan Rd., Central District, Taichung City ( 台中市中區中山路 20 號 )

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ENGLISH AND CHINESE Tsutaya Bookstore 蔦屋書店 Wu Pao-chun 吳寶春 Wu Pao Chun Bakery 吳寶春麥方店


CON V ENIENT TR AV EL / NOR THE A S T COA S T

ROUGH ROCKS, FINE SAND, SCENIC VIEWS

Taiwan Tour Bus website

Visiting the Northeast Coast by Tour Bus TE X T & PHOTOS V I S ION

Just an hour or so by bus from the concrete jungle of central Taipei is the wonderfully scenic coast in Taiwan’s northeast corner. Public transport to this part of the island is convenient. Even more convenient is the guided bus tour detailed below.

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t’s amazing how quickly and easily you can leave central Taipei City behind and arrive at a fine-sand beach or points with out-ofthis-world rock formations along the Northeast Coast. This part of Taiwan has superb transport connections with the capital city. You can take the train from Taipei Main Station to the village of Fulong (6090min. depending on train type) and be just a 10-min. walk from golden sand and rolling waves. If self-help travel is not your thing and you prefer a guided bus tour instead, you can opt for the Northeast Gold Coast (One-Day Tour), which is explained on the Taiwan Tour Bus website (www.taiwantourbus.com.tw). The bus will take you right to the doorsteps of the following places of interest.

BEIGUAN TIDAL PARK

A trail takes you through narrow gaps in this small park’s rock formations, past a temple inside a cave, and to spots higher up, from where you can take in the coastal mountains and ocean, with the peculiar-shaped Turtle Island in full view far offshore. WAI'AO BEACH

This beach has a distinctly different feel; the wide shore here is almost black. The main reason why this beach is popular, however, is the surf. This is one of the best locations in Taiwan to ride the waves, and there are numerous small proprietor-run businesses, including surf shops and eateries, catering to the surfing crowd. For more information about the area, visit www.necoast-nsa.gov.tw. Nanya Rocks

NANYA ROCKS

One of the most iconic geological features of the Northeast Coast is the rock formations close to the small fishing village of Nanya. You can get a glimpse of these sandstone rocks, sculpted by wind and water, from the coastal highway but to best appreciate the unique shapes and get the optimal photo angles, you want to get off the bus, walk around, and perhaps scramble a bit across the smooth sandstone base close to the water. BITOU CAPE

Bitou Cape is well-known for its main trail, which brings you to high vantage points from where you can enjoy marvelous views of the coastal mountains and sea. One side trail takes you to the photogenic Bitou Cape Lighthouse. The western end of the cape’s main trail is at the small, picturesque Bitou Fishing Harbor. FULONG BEACH

The bus then takes you to completely different coastal scenery. The village of Fulong’s main attraction is its golden-sand beach at the mouth of the Shuangxi River. Fulong can be conveniently reached by train, and therefore attracts large numbers of visitors, especially on weekends and holidays during the summer months. SANDIAO CAPE

This cape has a charming snow-white lighthouse very much liked by visitors as a backdrop for photo shoots. The cape’s tip is the easternmost point of mainland Taiwan, and the lighthouse is an important beacon guiding ships through the treacherous waters around the island’s northeast corner.

Fulong Beach

Sandiao Cape lighthouse

Northeast Gold Coast (One-Day Tour) ( 東北角黃金海岸線 1 日遊 ) www.taiwantourbus.com.tw/C/tour/us/northeast-gold-coast ITINERARY Taipei City Nanya Rocks ( 南雅奇岩 ) (30 min.) Bitou Cape ( 鼻頭角 ) (30 min.) Fulong ( 福隆 ) (30 min.) Sandiao Cape ( 三貂角 ) (20 min.) Beiguan ( 北關 ) (40 min.) Wai'ao ( 外澳 ) (1 hr) Taipei City FEE: NT$1,000/adult (weekend and holidays NT$1,200; incl. bus fare, lunch, insurance, and guide; ticket to Fulong Beach not included)

BEST TRAVEL ( 怡容國際旅行社 ) www.besttravel.com.tw (02) 8973-2973 No. 192, Longmen Rd., Sanchong District, New Taipei City ( 新北市三重區龍門路 192 號 )

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Suitcase wall in lobby of 1969 Blue Sky Hotel

Taichung’s St ylish Boutique Hotels

Find the Personality that Perfectly Fits Your Own TE X T RICK CH A RE T TE

What are the passions that drive your life? Love of nature? Love of modern industrial design? Of the fine arts, or perhaps exotic travel, or perchance more exotic athletic pursuits such as scuba diving? Stylish boutique hotels are sprouting all over Taichung’s urban core, each picking a unique theme as their personality, making for the perfect-match home away from home for you.

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PHOTOS AS K A CHI

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veritable forest of smart, elegant boutique hotels has popped up. Some are brand-new facilities, often built to realize an owner-proprietor’s dream for self-expression. Others are in rejuvenated older buildings with heritage value. What becomes apparent if you stay in the city a few times is that the operators of each want a getaway spot with a personality like no other hotel in Taiwan. You come to explore the city, but your Taichung boutique-hotel stay is designed to be an adventure in itself. As well, many are in neighborhoods not served by larger hotels, making them wonderfully convenient bases for intensive, intimate off-the-beaten-track community explorations on foot.


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Stylish guestroom

The irresistible eye-catch in the comfy second-level Blue Sky Lounge is the tall-as-a-man neon jukebox, a specialty creation imported at hefty outlay from Britain. It’s the real deal, filled with a collection of vinyl golden-oldie singles – The Beatles, The Platters, etc. – which guests can play free using tokens provided by the hotel. When exiting the elevator on each floor you’re greeted with a shrewd design touch – your supersized floor number in bold neon, which really keeps the ’60s ambience in play. The neat, compact rooms are minimalist “industrial style,” with calming combinations of white, black, silver/gray, and earth tones. Many also have exposed original wall and pillar sections of concrete or red brick. All come with classical ’60s-era accouterments such as retro-style electric kettles, desk telephones, coffee mugs and tea cups, and mod chairs and seats right out of an early James Bond movie. An especially appealing flourish is the intricate tiling used in the bathrooms, celebrating central Taiwan’s once thriving decorative-tile industry. Your simple, gratis Chinese/Western buffet breakfast is taken in the third-floor restaurant, which overlooks a crossroads in this inviting narrow-street heritage section of town.

1969 Blue Sky Hotel

1969 BLUE SKY HOTEL (1969 藍天飯店 ) (04) 2223-0577 1969blueskyhotel.com No. 38, Shifu Rd., Central District, Taichung City ( 台中市中區市府路 38 號 ) Hotel dining area

1969 Blue Sky Hotel At this hotel, in a refurbished hotel building, your exotic travel adventure is a time-travel return – yes, you guessed it – to the year 1969. The hotel façade is framed with old-timey neon lighting long ago seen in such culturally iconic US places as Sunset Boulevard and the Las Vegas strip. On the Travel in Taiwan team’s check-in night during a recent research trip for the Taichung articles in this issue the exterior neon, low-lit alley by the hotel’s side, and bright moon hanging high above left me feeling transported to a scene in a sultry ’60s detective series. Enter the compact lobby and you find, on your immediate left, a full two-floor wall made of period suitcases neatly fitted together, many bought at sales, some donated by past guests. The retro-chic front desk area features a counter fixed atop a retired industrial boiler, retired transformer control panels and vintage clocks with the time in different global cities covering the wall behind, and industrial-style exposed piping and ducts.

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Hotel entrance

Slide tube in hotel lobby

Stylish guestroom

RedDot Hotel If you’ve ever dreamed that an overnight at a museum – a Red Dot Design Museum – would be the niftiest of things, Taichung’s RedDot Hotel is the next best thing. It took up residence in an adeptly redesigned hotel building in 2014, the building dating back to the 1970s. Peering through full-wall windows into the wide lobby space from outside, you’d be forgiven for mistakenly thinking you’re looking in at a hipster design gallery. The funky-chic lobby seating includes a sofa made entirely of sepak takraw balls, a retro leather and stainless steel barbershop chair, and a large overstuffed sofa chair and footrest set sporting wide butterscotch and red stripes that give it the look of a prop from a Dr. Seuss picture book. The futuristic-feel entrance is a glass swish-panel tube portal that looks like a transporter terminal in a sci-fi movie. The universal lobby favorite, however, is the three-story stainless-steel Cowabunga Slide tube, which guests can use during specified hours. Sliding boards are provided at the front desk. Another favorite is the “disco” elevator, which has mirrored walls and a flashing-color floor that transported me to the dance floor in the ’70s flick Saturday Night Fever, obliging me to bust some (lousy) moves on rides until politely requested to refrain by my fellow Travel in Taiwan travelers.

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In contrast, the guestrooms have a more subdued and homey feel. Perhaps the most eye-catching design element is the prominent use of bright-pastel Hakka floral fabrics on beds; there is a heavy concentration of Hakka, a Han Chinese sub-group, in the region north of central Taichung. The bathrooms are gleaming-white throughout, promoting a sense of space; they feature Taiwan marble and tiles from south Taiwan’s celebrated San-He Tile Kiln (the lobby floor is also a San-He showcase). Other facilities include the Gallery, where creative-art classes are offered, the classy SaoBao Bar, where darkstain woods and polished copper are the design keys, and the charming French-cuisine L'ARÔME Restaurant, rich with hanging plants. This is where you’ll take your complimentary Western-style set meal breakfast, entrees including selections such as pork burger and pancakes. REDDOT HOTEL ( 紅點文旅 ) (04) 2229-9333 reddot-hotel.com No. 206, Minzu Rd., Central District, Taichung City ( 台中市中區民族路 206 號 )


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Divecube Hotel You’ve no doubt in the past heard a hotel described as “a real dive.” This, perfectly, describes the Divecube Hotel. Let me explain. ‘Tis not “a dive.” ‘Tis a real fine place “to dive,” and to stay, for divers especially. ‘Tis a place filled in the center with water from the top floor down past the first and into the basement, tapering as the giant pool descends, a place to come if you’re the type of person with a hankering to spend time above-ground (deep) under water. As with The Place Taichung introduced next, home for the Divecube Hotel is a new purposebuilt high-rise with a sleek modern exterior. Taiwan’s central region is not a place for diving; the closest sites are along the northeast coast and far south in Kenting National Park. The owner wanted to create a facility for regional denizens to use and a new destination to lure tourists from outside Taichung. “Bringing the ocean to the heart of Taichung,” the pool is Asia’s deepest. Another equally important goal is to raise marine-conservation awareness through urban diving. One and all are welcome – the pool is not just for guest use. The top-floor dive center

has stupendous views across the city to the majestic central mountains through its east-side wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Occasionally a high-speed train can be seen hurtling by down below. Trained instructors provide classes in both scuba diving and freediving (yes, the pool is that deep), and seasoned divers can head in by themselves, though with a dive buddy. The dive center can provide all needed dive gear. Special discount packages are available for overnighting guests.

Divecube Hotel

T h e a i r y s u n - d r e n c h e d f i r s t- f l o o r restaurant, where creative Italian vegetarian fare is crafted, has windows both into the main pool and into artificial practice caves. Guestrooms are utilitarian, outfitted with bunkbeds sleeping up to six – i.e., the diving’s the thing. DIVECUBE HOTEL ( 潛立方旅館 ) (04) 2229-9333 www.divecube.com.tw No. 69, Anhe W. Rd., Xitun District, Taichung City (台中市西屯區安和西路 69 號 )

In a practice cave (photo courtesy of Divecube Hotel)

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Top floor guestroom

Giant LEGO block facade

The Place Taichung The Place Taichung is beside the Calligraphy Greenway’s south end (see article on page 10), facing the superlative National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. So take a wild guess – what is its design theme? Take your time. This is the only chain outlet among this article’s subjects. Each The Place location around Taiwan is one-of-a-kind, with a design theme celebrating a key attraction or element from its local-neighborhood culture. The Place Taichung is presented as an art gallery. The building itself is a work of art. The façade looks like a giant’s pile of stacked LEGO blocks, those on the top floor all askew and featuring bright pastel colors. The interior features a powerful black-and-white minimalist theme with impeccably clean lines. Spaces are highlighted, emulating an art gallery, with black ironwork and swank track lighting. As you move up through the building, the wall on each floor opposite the elevators is graced with a gallery-style art display commissioned from a local artist, centered on such themes as local scenic highlights, culinary icons, green spaces, etc. The ZEBRA? This is the first-floor restaurant, black and white all over – get it? – with various strategically placed décor splashes of crayoncharacter color. Here, traditional Taiwanese cuisine is paired with contemporary Italian. Guestrooms are visually quiet and understated, predominantly white, which is harmoniously contrasted with iron latticework subtly incorporating the character zhong ( 中 ), the second character in the Chinese for “Taichung.” The secret of the hotel’s pastel LEGO-block centers is revealed in the top-floor guestrooms – the bright-color curtains, which open at quirky angles to let big, broad views of the city stream in. The hotel’s capstone artwork is, appropriately, on the roof – the gym, or Pain & Gain Area. The machines are spread in a line along the long, thin room before floor-to-ceiling windows, entertainingly framing the almost 180-degree city panorama as mural art.

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ZEBRA restaurant

Calligraphy art THE PLACE TAICHUNG ( 台中大毅老爺行旅 ) (04) 2376-6732 hotelroyal.com.tw/taichung/ No. 601, Yingcai Rd., West District, Taichung City ( 台中市西區英才路 601 號 )


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Green Hotel The Green Hotel is in an especially quiet, primarily residential, neighborhood near the Calligraphy Greenway’s mid-section. Its lobby doors open on a narrow-street intersection, a heritage Japanese-style wooden house, now home to a Japanese restaurant, diagonally across the way. A small kindergarten seen through the left-side bank of lobby windows is the source of smile-creating scenes.

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Another key spirit-uplifting aesthetic touch is the placement of displays on atrium-facing walls on each guestroom floor. One, entitled “Branches of life,” presents Taiwan’s aromatic-wood trees, another, “Seeds of hope,” the seeds from which local plant life springs. Rooms are minimalist chic, with a strong Scandinavian charisma. Blondish bamboo wood is liberally used, on floors and on walls. The light décor tones much expand the sense of space. As you descend the wide stairs from the lobby to the basement Shire restaurant, the happy sensation is one of entering a Hobbit House forest setting, accentuated by the low ceiling. Western family fare is served here.

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The mission of this hotel is nature appreciation and eco-conservation. One lobby corner area is given over to a display of Taiwan plant life, the main attraction a long rack of vials containing specimens of aromatic plants such as lemongrass, sweet osmanthus, and mugwort, which guests can smell, accompanied by explanations (Chinese) of their habitats and common uses. The hotel’s décor gemstone is its atrium, which extends from the basement restaurant to a full-glass roof section through which sunlight floods down. The atrium’s back wall is made of countless PET bottles, with LED lights embedded. Guests use a lobby computer terminal to write messages that then scroll up the wall, accompanied by visuals such as giant leaves (the hotel’s logo features a stylized leaf). All guestroom doors directly face the atrium.

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Green Hotel

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RedDot Hotel

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Taiwan plant life corner in the lobby GREEN HOTEL ( 綠宿行旅 ) (04) 2301-4280 greenhotel.com.tw/cg/zh/ No. 126, Minsheng N. Rd., West District, Taichung City ( 台中市西區民生北路 126 號 )

Hotel atrium with LED wall made of PET bottles

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Silvergrass Waving in the Wind Hiking the Caoling Historic Trail on the Northeast Coast TE X T H A N CHEUNG

PHOTOS R AY CH A NG

The Caoling Historic Trail is one of the best-known hiking routes in northern Taiwan. It is fairly easy to walk, takes you to points of historical significance, and presents you with spectacular mountain and ocean views at its highest points.

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it h s u c h e l e m e nt s a s a br i d g e l it e r a l l y n a m e d “Horse Falling to Death,” t he Caoling Historic Tra i l wa s a treacherous route when Liu Ming-deng passed through in the 1860s. Legend has it that in 1867, after the Qing empire’s Taiwan military commander w rote “Quel l t he Violent M i st s” on a rock, the thick fog that had caused some members of his group to plummet to their deaths immediately dissipated. About 1.5km further up the trail from that rock, Liu erected a stele inscribed with the Chinese character for “tiger,” stylized in animal form, to stop the strong winds in the area. Perhaps the magic worked. Today, at most times there is little mist or wind, and the 8.5km historic trail close to Taiwan’s northeast coast, connecting the beach town of Fulong with the fishing village of Dali, is a pleasant trek that can be done in a few hours.

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The History

Tiger inscription

The trail is one of several remaining sections of the Danlan Historic Trail network that once connected the north coast port town of Tamsui and the city of Taipei with today’s Yilan County. The network originally featured three main paths, and was extensively used during the Qing Dynasty by the military, traveling merchants, bandits, Western missionaries, Han Chinese pioneers, as well as indigenous people, enabling all to reach the fertile Lanyang Plain. The importance of the Danlan Historic Trail faded when the Japanese, who controlled Taiwan as a colony from 1895 through 1945, completed the Yilan Line railroad connecting the harbor city of Keelung in the north with the harbor town of Su’ao in southern Yilan in 1924. Thereafter, sections of the trail network were turned into roads; others were reclaimed by nature. The government is currently working on restoring large parts of the network for tourism purposes, but several sections, including the Caoling Historic Trail, have a lready been accessible for a long time, to the delight of hiking enthusiasts. Many especially like to hike the trail between October and December when the silvergrass blooms, to admire the sea of white tassels waving in the wind. The Caoling Historic Trail can be accessed from the north (start from Fulong Railway Station) or the south (start from Dali Railway Station). Fulong is ideal for those who want to complete the entire trail, while those who only want to reach the Yakou lookout point, examine Liu’s steles, and perhaps sca le part of the Taoyuan Valley Trail for sweeping views of the northeastern coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean can start from Dali. Starting at Fulong, you can take bus F831 (bus stop on main highway close to station; free-ofcharge community bus; only four departures each day, not available on weekends) and get off at Yuanwangkeng Riverside Park, then follow the paved road along a river to the trailhead. Many hikers, however, will walk all the way from Fulong’s station to the trailhead (about 30 minutes). The route, following minor roads, is clearly labeled with signs. If starting from Dali Railway Station, the trailhead is found behind the impressive Qingyun Temple (about 500m northeast of the station).

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The Hike Starting from Yuanwangkeng Riverside Park, it isn’t a difficult hike overall, but it’s still a good workout and the scenery is diverse enough along the way to the high points to keep things interesting, from bamboo groves to a mountain stream to verdant hills with grazing water buffaloes. After completing the first part of the hike (1km of paved road), the real trail begins at a giant banyan tree close to a mountain stream. A steady climb then brings you to the aforementioned inscriptions made by Lin. After passing the tiger inscription further up, you will soon arrive at what the locals call Yakou (“mountain pass”). There is a small Earth God temple here (look inside and you’ll see not only the Earth God, but also his wife, a rarity), as well as a rest area with spectacular views of the coastal mountains towering over the fishing harbor at Dali and the Pacific Ocean, with the iconic Turtle Island in clear view. From here, you have the option of descending straight down to Dali, or taking a detour up the steep-stone-step Taoyuan Valley Trail for some even more spectacular views of mountains and ocean. If you have time and stamina, it’s possible to make the five-hours-or-so trek all the way to the fishing village of Daxi and the Daxi Railway Station (one station south of Dali), but it’s also worth it to just climb up to the highest point, Mt. Wankengtou, from where you will enjoy amazing vistas north and south along the coast. From Yakou down to Dali you can either follow the “easier-on-your-knees” S-shaped dirt road or descend directly via the steeper and more direct stonepath trail. At the end of the trail you will come to Qingyun Temple, which is worth a closer look – it began as a modest structure used for worship of the Jade Emperor (or Ruler of All Heavens) in 1836, and has been expanded significantly since. Built on a lush green mountainside and facing the Pacific Ocean, the temple offers great views, especially from its second-floor terrace. The neighboring Dali Visitor Center provides rich information about the area’s histor y and culture, including a silvergrass exhibit and a section for those interested in how Liu Ming-deng created his stone inscriptions. The “Hexiangju Bakery,” in the same building, offers wood-fired baked goods, including a limited-edition tiger inscription bun.

Taoyuan Valley Trail

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Qingyun Temple

Tiger inscription bun

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Fulong If you still have time and don’t mind tourist crowds, take the train back two stops from Dali to Fulong, which is a popular seaside village with much to do and see. The soft, golden sands and clear waters of Fulong’s beach area are obviously the main draw, and every summer two major festivals, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival and the HO-HAI-YAN Gongliao Rock Festival, are staged here. For food, there are several shops around the train station selling railway biandang (lunchboxes), which typically contain pork, Taiwanstyle sweet sausage, braised egg, tofu, cabbage, and pickled vegetables. For Western fare in a more relaxed setting, head to the Blue Bay Café, which is housed in a charming traditional red-brick structure.

Blue Bay Café

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Caoling Old Tunnel


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If you’re still feeling restless, rent a bike at one of the numerous shops around the station and explore the popular and scenic Old Caoling Trail Circle-Line Bikeway that takes cyclists through the 2.2km-long Caoling Old Tunnel, which was abandoned in 1986 and reopened in 2008. Most people seem to just take a selfie at the southern end of the tunnel and head back, but the rest of the ride is not to be missed. The stunning seaside route along what is the easternmost tip of Taiwan passes by the striking Sandiao Cape Lighthouse, which rises from the top of a cliff as you approach, and is worth a detour up the small mountain. You will then come to the bay of the quaint fishing village of Mao’ao, where you can explore old houses along winding streets. There’s not a dull moment on the ride that in the end brings you back to your starting point in Fulong village.

GETTING THERE From Taipei, take any northbound local train not bound for Keelung and get off at either Fulong or Dali. The ride takes just over an hour. From Fulong, follow the signs for the Caoling Historic Trail to find the trailhead, or take bus F831 from near the train station. From Dali, the trail begins behind Qingyun Temple, which is a short walk from the train station. ENGLISH AND CHINESE biandang 便當 Blue Bay Café 藍灣咖啡 Caoling Historic Trail 草嶺古道 Dali 大里 Danlan Historic Trail 淡蘭古道 Daxi 大溪 Fulong 福隆 Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival 福隆國際沙雕藝術季 "Hexiangju Bakery" 禾香居柴燒窯烤麵包 HO-HAI-YAN Gongliao Rock Festival 貢寮國際海洋音樂祭 "Horse-falling-to-death" 跌死馬 Lanyang Plain 蘭陽平原 Liu Ming-deng 劉明燈 Mao'ao 卯澳 Northeast Cape 東北角 Old Caoling Trail Circle-Line Bikeway 舊草嶺環狀線自行車道 Qingyun Temple 慶雲宮 "Quell the violent mists" 雄鎮蠻煙 Sandiao Cape 三貂角 Sandiao Cape Lighthouse 三貂角燈塔 Taoyuan Valley Trail 桃源谷步道 tiger 虎 Turtle Island 龜山島 Yakou 埡口 Yilan Line 宜蘭線 Yuanwangkeng Riverside Park 遠望坑親水公園

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Mushroom and Mountain Country Exploring the Eastern Countryside Districts of Taichung City TE X T OWA IN MCK IMM

PHOTOS AS K A CHI , V I S ION

Far from the bustle of downtown, Taichung City's eastern districts of Fengyuan, Shigang, Dongshi, Xinshe, and Heping provide a semi-rural mountainous retreat ripe for exploration. Following the course of the Dajia River, which flows down from the soaring heights of the Snow Mountain (Xueshan) Range, you'll find some fantastic cycling, agricultural abundance, hot springs, and pockets of both Hakka and indigenous Taiwanese culture – ample entertainment for a two- or three-day trip.

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Fun The Dongfeng Bicycle Green Way stretches for 12.4 kilometers through leafy, gently undulating avenues from Dongshi District in the east to Fengyuan District in the west, running parallel to the Dajia River. The bikeway follows what was once the route of the Dongshi Line, a railway built in 1958 to transport timber from the rich cypress, cedar, and fir forests of the Dongshi area (home to the biggest lumber operation in East Asia in the 1960s) to the town of Fengyuan, at the time one of Taiwan's busiest economic centers due to its convenient location on the island's west coast trunk line. The railway line was decommissioned in 1991. The bikeway, following the original line, was opened in 2000; this was Taiwan's first railway-to-bikeway conversion. Zooming along the well-kept asphalt under a cooling canopy of tree branches, you'll pass several of the decommissioned stations, now renovated and transformed into pleasant rest stops, and other relics of the old railway days – including warped and twisted sections of track (a result of the devastating earthquake that hit this area in 1999). At the Zero Egg Platform you come across two abandoned-but-intact train carriages. The platform’s unusual name comes from the fact that after nearby Shigang Station was abandoned, this platform became a temporary gathering place for vendors. The word for this kind of makeshift market in Taiwanese is a homophone for the phrase meaning “zero egg” in Mandarin, which due to its quirkiness appears to have stuck. One of the most charming attractions along the bikeway, the Lovers’ Bridge, requires a slight detour from the main path over an imposing steel overpass adorned with bas-relief scenes from the Garden of Eden. The Lovers' Bridge itself is a quaint wooden structure that crosses a tributary of the Dajia River and brings you to a romantic small plaza and park, lovingly landscaped with flowers, lemon trees, and heartshaped sculptures draped in wisteria.

Zero Egg Platform

Houli Horse Ranch

At the western end of the bikeway, the adjoining Houfeng Bikeway (4.5km) takes you north towards Houli Horse Ranch, at one time a stud farm for military horses but nowadays more focused on recreational equestrian activities. This is now Taiwan's top horse-riding training center, with around 100 horses stabled on-site (ranging from purebred stallions to cutesy mini steeds) for both breeding and educational activities. Visitors can take a riding lesson or wander the grounds, meeting and greeting one of the many gamboling horses out at pasture. TIAN YUAN BIKE RENTAL ( 田原租車 ) 0912-975-061, 0955-861-286 9am~5pm (weekdays); 8am~6pm (weekends) bike.mmmtravel.com.tw (Chinese) No. 1166, Fengshi Rd., Shigang Dist., Taichung City ( 台中市石岡區豐勢路 1166 號 ) HOULI HORSE RANCH ( 后里馬場 ) (04) 2515-2588 No. 41, Sishan Rd., Houli District, Taichung City ( 台中市后里區寺山路 41 號 )

Old railway tracks

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Tuniu Hakka Cultural Hall Tuniu Hakka Cultural Hall

Leaving the bike paths and moving further upriver, you can make a brief stop to soak up some of the local culture at the Tuniu Hakka Cultural Hall – a stately collection of buildings that provides both serene garden surroundings and an insight into the bygone lives of Taichung's Hakka population. The Hakka people (the word “Hakka” literally means “guest families”) are a diasporic group that comprise around 20% of Taiwan’s population and form the second-largest ethnic group on the island. Culturally distinct from Taiwan’s dominant Hokkien population (whose ancestors came from China’s Fujian Province), the Hakka originated in northern China and migrated southwards over the centuries, first crossing the Taiwan Strait in large number in the mid-17th century. The Tuniu Hakka Cultural Hall originally served as the residence of the Shigang area’s prosperous Liu family, but was ruined during the 1999 earthquake and later rebuilt and repurposed as a cultural museum. Stories of the area’s villages and their Hakka settlers are told on the museum’s highly detailed information boards, unfortunately in Chinese only. Nonetheless, the half-moon pond, ancient well, living halls, ancestral altars, and objects central to Hakka culture still make for interesting viewing. (Particularly impressive are two giant sticky-rice cake molds, one in the shape of a turtle, the other a leaf, both as big as a writing desk and requiring two people to maneuver.)

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Tian Yuan Bike Rental

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Tuniu Hakka Cultural Hall

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TUNIU HAKKA CULTURAL HALL ( 土牛客家文化館 ) (04) 2582-5312 9am~5pm (closed on Monday) No. 10, Decheng Ln., Fengshi Rd., Tuniu Bor., Shigang Dist., Taichung City ( 台中市石岡區土牛里豐勢路德成巷 10 號 )

The Pines

Taichung City 3

129

74

Taiwan

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A-Liang Mushroom Garden


FU N TR IP PL A N / E A S TER N TA ICH U NG

The Pines restaurant

Eat Xinshe District, which borders the Dajia River where it is forced northward by the hills of the Dakeng Scenic Area, is affectionately known as Taichung’s back garden. Rising high above the river in two stepped plateaus and with year-round balmy days and cool nights, the district provides excellent growing conditions for citrus fruits, grapes, loquats and, most importantly, mushrooms. Bordering the hills that enclose the highland’s southwestern side is Xiezhong Street, also known as “Mushroom Street” due to the high concentration of mushroom nurseries and specialty restaurants that do business on the strip. Driving along, you’ll see signs that boast “The Master of Mushrooms” and “The Mushroom God.” Instead of stopping at these more boastful purveyors, visiting A-Liang Mushroom Garden is highly recommended. A-Liang’s establishment is divided into two parts: A shop and eatery, where all sorts of dried-mushroom products and freshly prepared mushroom cuisine are available, and a mushroom nursery, a vast cavern at the back of the shop where guests can pick shiitake, wood ear, and several species of oyster mushrooms for just NT$110 per jin (500g). Here, bags of mushroom-impregnated sawdust are laid out in beds and stacked on shelves, each one erupting with fungal fruit, saturating the air with that earthy, umami aroma of a damp forest floor. The infectiously passionate A-Liang shows visitors around the mushroom nursery and happily shares his knowledge on optimum cultivation practices. Among the food options he recommends are barbecued and deep-fried shiitake, braised mushroom rice, and mixed mushroom soup thickened with wood ear broth. This is hearty, honest food, not to mention extremely delicious. For a more up-market meal with a view, head to The Pines, located in the hilly northern end of the district overlooking a picturesque lake. The owner, Steven Chang, explains that his intent in developing the restaurant was to create something with a beauty that would last and, indeed, increase over time (as opposed

to aging poorly). To achieve this, Chang took what had once been undeveloped wilderness and landscaped it by planting bald cypress trees, which unlike many other conifers are deciduous, their needles changing from lush green in summer to russet in winter. The restaurant, which commands a front-seat view of the cypress trees, serves seasonal French-inspired cuisine made using Xinshe’s abundant fresh produce. Prices are moderate to high.

Mushroom meal at A-Liang Mushroom Garden A-LIANG MUSHROOM GARDEN ( 阿亮香菇園 ) (04) 2581-0893 9:30am~5pm daily 0425810893.emmm.tw (Chinese) No. 131, Xiezhong St., Xinshe Dist., Taichung City ( 台中市新社區協中街 131 號 )

THE PINES ( 松之戀 ) (04) 2581-4888 9:30am~5pm daily www.facebook.com/tpl988 No. 6-7, Shishuike, Xinshe Dist., Taichung City ( 台中市新社區食水嵙 6-7 號 )

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Fun Following Provincial Highway 8 from Xinshe up the Dajia River valley brings you in less than an hour to the village of Guguan. In 1907 hot springs were discovered in the area by local natives (the area is home to members of Taiwan’s indigenous Atayal tribe), and Guguan has been a popular recreation area ever since. The sodium bicarbonate hot springs effuse a mildly alkaline, murky-white water that is smooth to the touch, with a strong aroma of sulfur, at an average temperature of 48 degrees Celsius. Forming the center of the main visitor area is the Guguan Hot Springs Park – a pleasant garden dotted with cherry trees, at the far end of which you can experience a free foot spa (skin-nibbling fish included) at the publicly accessible footbaths. The park once served as a garden for a Taiwan Power Company employee dormitory (where workers could bed down when posted to this remote area). The dormitory building still exists, but is now home to an iced-desserts shop, its specialty being pine-f lavored popsicles, a curious delicacy made by extracting the essence from the needles of Japanese white pines. At the northwest end of the park, the Shaolai Suspension Bridge (one of three gorge-spanning suspension bridges in Guguan) provides access to the opposite side of the river and the Shaolai Trail, which takes you up through copses of camphor, pine, and cinnamon trees, then down again, emerging at the far end of the village (about one hour). A longer and more challenging hike up Mt. Bojinjia branches off from the Shaolai Trail and is part of the "Seven Heroes of Guguan" – a collection of seven day-hikes in the area. The eastern end of the village, where many of the hot-spring resort hotels are located, can be reached on foot via the Guguan Suspension Bridge, from which you get a fine view of the hot-spring hotels jostling for position on the steep riverbank.

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Shaolai Trail

Guguan

Shaolai Suspension Bridge

HOSHINOYA Guguan

Guguan Suspension Bridge

Guguan Hot Springs Park Taiwan Power Company employee dormitory

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Guguan Hot Springs Park

Taiwan


FU N TR IP PL A N / E A S TER N TA ICH U NG

Stay While there are plenty of hotels to choose from in Guguan, the HOSHINOYA Guguan certainly stands out among the crowd, both physically (the building towers over the other hotels from a hilltop plateau) and in terms of the level of luxury on offer. Developed by the resort company Hoshino Resorts Inc. from Japan, the HOSHINOYA Guguan is the company’s first luxury hot-spring resort hotel outside of Japan. The hotel offers 50 spacious and tastefully decorated rooms, most of which are laid out in a maisonette style. All come with a private hot-spring bath with views over Guguan's wooded mountain scenery. The hotel’s crowning glory, however, is its water garden – a serene forest grove threaded by a babbling stream – which also contains the hotel pool and several half-hidden gazebos tucked into the pine canopy. And at the far end of the pool you'll find indoor and outdoor hot springs, designed in a wabi-sabi style that mimics the natural textures of rock and wood, with plenty of private nooks in which self-conscious bathers (like many Japanese baths, no clothing is allowed while bathing) can enjoy some alone time. Rates begin at NT$18,000 per night.

The hotel's pool

HOSHINOYA GUGUAN ( 虹夕諾雅 �� ) (04) 2595-0008 hoshinoya.com/guguan/en/ No. 16, Wenquan Ln., Sec. 1, Dongguan Rd., Heping Dist., Taichung City ( 台中市和平區東關路一段溫泉巷 16 號 ) GETTING THERE AND AROUND By Public Transport: Taichung-based Fengyuan Bus Company runs regular buses from the THSR Taichung Station (high-speed rail), Taichung Railway Station, and Fengyuan Railway Station to the city's eastern districts. For detailed stops and timetables, visit www.fybus. com.tw (Chinese). For Guguan, take Fengyuan Bus No. 153 from THSR Taichung Station, No. 850 from Taichung Railway Station, No. 207 from Fengyuan District, or No. 266 from Dongshi District.

Gazebo inside the water garden

By Car: From Taipei, take Freeway 1 to Taichung and then Freeway 4 east to Fengyuan District. Continue east on Provincial Highway 3 for Shigang and Dongshi districts. At Dongshi, turn right onto County Road 129 for Xinshe, or continue onwards on Provincial Highway 8 for Guguan. ENGLISH AND CHINESE Atayal tribe 泰雅族 Dajia River 大甲溪 Dakeng Scenic Area 大坑風景區 Dongfeng Bicycle Green Way 東豐綠色廊道 Dongshi Line 東勢線 Dongshi District 東勢區 Fengyuan District 豐原區 Guguan Hot Springs Park 谷關溫泉公園 Guguan Suspension Bridge 谷關吊橋 Houfeng Bikeway 后豐鐵馬道 Lovers' Bridge 情人木橋 Mt. Bojinjia 波津加山 Mushroom Street 香菇街 Seven Heroes of Guguan 谷關七雄 Shaolai Suspension Bridge 捎來吊橋 Shaolai Trail 捎來步道 Shigang District 石岡區 Steven Chang 張智銘 Xiezhong Street 協中街 Xinshe District 新社區 Zero Egg Platform 0 蛋月台

Guestroom hot-spring bath

Water garden

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CULT URE A ND A R T

CULTURE Concerts, Exhibitions, and Happenings

Until May 26

March 27 ~ May 17

Photo courtesy of National Museum of Natural Science

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center

JEHOL BIOTA SPECIAL EXHIBITION: A PEEK INTO THE WORLD-CLASS FOSSIL TREASURE TROVE

TAIWAN TRADITIONAL THEATRE FESTIVAL

窺 探 世界 級 的古生物 化石寶庫 - 熱河生物 群 特展

The Jehol Biota was a prehistoric ecosystem, dating back 125 million years, situated in today’s western Liaoning Province and conjoined areas in northeast China. The region is known and treasured by scientists for the exquisite preservation of plant, invertebrate, and vertebrate fossils, including those of feathered dinosaurs. This exhibition presents visitors with a wide range of fossils, providing eye-opening information about the development of early life forms. National Museum of Natural Science [Taichung City] www.nmns.edu.tw

Until April 19

臺灣 戲曲藝 術 節

This festival was first staged by the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center in 2018 to not only highlight the traditional performing arts of Taiwan, but also to present performances by troupes from abroad, and to showcase trends of the future in the performing arts. This year, the focus will be on cross-genre cooperation and female consciousness. Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center [Taipei City] festival.ncfta.gov.tw/2020tttf/zh-tw

Until April 26

Photo courtesy of National Theater/National Concert Hall

TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS THE HISTORY OF UKIYO-E 江 戶風華│五 大 浮世 絵 師展

The Japanese ar tform of Ukiyo-e (lit. "pictures of the floating world") flourished during Japan’s Edo period (1603~1868). Among the best-known examples of the genre are woodblock prints and paintings by artists Hokusai (The Great Wave of Kanagawa) and Hiroshige (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido). This exhibition features 146 works of Ukiyo-e, introducing you to the fascinating history of this popular artform. National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall [Taipei City] www.cksmh.gov.tw

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台灣 國 際 藝 術 節

This festival each year features highly entertaining and thoughtprovoking acts by performers from Taiwan and abroad. Among the shows you want to mark on your cultural must-see calendar this year are: Rimini Protokoll’s Nachlass-Pièces sans personnes , taking spectators through eight immersive spaces where life meets death; the Batsheva Dance Company’s Venezuela, during which the same performance is done twice, with subtle alterations; and Julien Gosselin’s Players, Mao II, The Names , a riveting spectacle lasting a whopping nine hours and 20 minutes. National Theater/National Concert Hall [Taipei City] npac-ntch.org/zh/festivals/TIFA/2020/events/index


THE GRAND HOTEL 圓山大飯店

Visitors to Taiwan have a wide range of choice when it comes to accommodation. From fivestar luxury hotels that meet the highest international standards, to affordable business hotels, to hot-spring and beach r e s o r t h o te l s , to p r i v a te l y run homestays located in the countr yside there is a place to st ay that s atisf i es eve r y traveler’s needs. What all hotels of Taiwan — small and big, expensive and affordable — have in common is that serve and hospitality are always of the highest standards. T he room rates in the follow ing list have b e e n c h e c ke d fo r each hotel, but are subject to change without notice. Room rates at the hotels apply.

Taipei 台 北

MADISON TAIPEI HOTEL 慕軒飯店

NO. OF ROOMS: 500 (Suites: 57)

NO. OF ROOMS: 124

ROOM RATES: Single/DBL Suite

ROOM RATES: Classic Room Deluxe Room Oasis Room Madison Room Skyline Suite Madison Suite

NT$ 8,800-15,800 NT$ 22,000-36,000

(All rates are subject to 10% service charge.)

DESK PERSONNEL SPEAK: English, French, Spanish, and Japanese

SPECIAL FEATURES: Grand Ballroom, conference rooms for 399 people, 10 breakout rooms, business center, fitness center, sauna, Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, billiards

Taipei 台 北

NO. OF ROOMS: 160 NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

14,800 16,800 18,800 20,800 60,000 90,000

SPECIAL FEATURES: Workout Room, VIP Rooms, Underground Parking, Italian Restaurant, Whisky Bar - Recommended by Michelin Guide Taipei - Luxury City Hotel by World Luxury Hotel Awards - Top 10 Popular Hotels for Business Travelers by Hotels.com

ROOM RATES: Standard Single Deluxe Single Deluxe Triple Elegant Suite

NT$ 6,600 NT$ 7,200 NT$ 9,800 NT$ 13,000

DESK PERSONNEL SPEAK: English, Japanese, Chinese RESTAURANTS: Golden Ear Restaurant (Western semi buffet); Golden Pot (Chinese Cuisine) SPECIAL FEATURES: Business center, meeting rooms, airport transfer service, parking lot, laundry service, free Internet access, LED TV, DVD player, personal safety box, mini bar, private bathroom with separate shower & bath tub, hair dryer

No. 1, Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City 台 北 市 中 山 北 路 4 段1號 Tel: +886-2-2886-8888 Fax: +886-2-2885-2885

Exit 1 of MRT Xingtian Temple Station on the Luzhou Line.

www.grand-hotel.org

www.madisontaipei.com

www.galahotel.com.tw

NT$1,500

No. 186, Songjiang Rd., Taipei City 台 北 市 松 江 路 186 號 Tel: +886-2-2541-5511 Fax: +886-2-2531-3831 Reservation Hotline: +886-2-2541-6888 E-mail: reservation@galahotel.com.tw

NT$1,500

3-Day Southern Taiwan Tour

NT$1,500

(Tainan, Kaohsiung, Kenting) (Taiwan High-Speed Rail – Bullet Train Ride) 三天二夜 台南 ˙ 高雄 ˙ 墾丁深度之旅 ( 含台灣高鐵體驗 )

NT$14,500

台北市松江路 190 號 4F

4-Day Central & Southern Taiwan Tour

NT$1,500 NT$4,200 NT$1,200

NT$1,300

慶泰大飯店

No. 331, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Taipei City 台 北 市 敦 化 南 路1 段 3 31 號 (8 minutes by foot from Exit 2 of MRT Xinyi Anhe Station or Exit 4 of MRT Da’an Station) CHM Central Reservations: +886-2-7706-3600 Tel: +886-2-7726-6699 Fax: +886-2-7726-9070 E-mail: guestservice@madisontaipei.com

NT$1,300

NT$1,500

TAIPEI GALA HOTEL

DESK PERSONNEL SPEAK: English, Chinese

RESTAURANTS: Western, Cantonese, Northern China Style Dumplings, tea house, coffee shop, steak house

NT$1,300

Taipei 台 北

(Stay at Sun Moon Lake)

(Stay at QingJing)

(Sun Moon Lake, Kaohsiung, Kenting) 四天三夜 台灣中南部觀光 ( 日月潭、高雄、墾丁 )

4-Day Eastern Taiwan Tour NT$6,600

NT$6,900

(Yilan, Hualien, Taitung) (Taiwan Railway Train Ride) 四天三夜 海岸、縱谷豐富之旅 ( 宜蘭、花蓮、台東 ) ( 含臺灣鐵路體驗 )

5-Day Round Taiwan Island Excursion NT$12,500

(All hotels are 5-star hotels) 五天四夜 台灣環島巴士之旅 ( 全程五星級旅館 )

Edison Travel Service specializes in Taiwan Tours and offers cheaper hotel room rates and car rental services (with drivers) . Edison welcomes contact with other travel services around the world.

NT$ 14,000

NT$ 15,500

NT$ 16,900 本廣告受交通部觀光局補助