Friday, January 6, 2012

getting to sun moon lake

First off I need to mention that Sun Moon Lake should really be done in two days, you can probably do it in one day if you already happen to be in Taichung and can reach Sun Moon Lake in one hour. However since we had to get to Taichung first, which takes around two hours from Hsinchu by bus, and then another hour plus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake, we didn't get to see all the sights.  Left my house at 8:30 am but didn't get to Sun Moon Lake until 1pm... so much time was wasted waiting for buses to arrive. Another thing that makes it not so ideal to try to make this a day trip is that the last bus from Sun Moon Lake to Taichung leaves at 7:25 pm which doesn't leave us that much time since we arrived at 1pm. The real kicker is that the Round-the-Lake bus which is essential if you don't have your own transportation stops running around 6pm and that includes the ferry too. So essentially we were left with four hours to really see stuff. Not enough time to see all the sights that are around this area but definitely crammed a lot of sights in the short amount of time we had. So as I mentioned we took a bus to Taichung which is the closest big city near Sun Moon Lake, in hindsight should have taken the HSR which would have been much faster. We got off in Taichung in what seem like a completely deserted street where the Nantou Bus Transportation office was. After being awake for all of three hours I was super hungry and was dismayed that I couldn't spot any restaurants that were near the area or even a 7-11. However after a little exploring, found a little shop that had just opened for the day that was serving xiaolongbao aka shanghai dumplings!

I went a little overboard....
The owner literally steams it on some portable grill oven thing right after we order. Can it get any fresher than that?? Pretty good dumplings. I like mine with soysauce, no ginger or vinegar. Also got to try another variation of the shanghai dumpling...

grilled shanghai dumplings
Didn't even know shanghai dumplings came in any other style but steamed! These were cooked on a metal grate over a fire in the front. Delicious in both forms, especially with soy sauce. I've never been a fan of shanghai dumplings but now I get all the fuss people make about it and will be down to eat them again in America. Went back to the Nantou office and debated between purchasing a Sun Moon Lake Pass versus just paying for things individually. The passes ranged from $299 to $899 NT. I purchased the $599 NT pass.

The $599 NT Sun Moon Lake Pass includes a round trip ticket from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (cost of $350 NT), round trip ticket for the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway (cost of $300 NT), unlimited rides on the Round-the-Lake Bus (cost $80 NT) and a one-way boat voucher between Shuishe Pier, the entrance way to Sun Moon Lake and also where the tourist info is at, to Ita Thao Pier, the location of the Thao aboriginal tribe (cost $100 NT to $300 NT). So getting the pass is definitely a good deal. It would be a better deal if you stay here for two days or purchase the pass earlier in the year and plan to come back since it lasts for a year. We went right before the year was over so we had to use all the vouchers. However anyone with expired vouchers can still use them if they go to the issuing department and pay the difference between the discounted and original price and pay an additional $30  NT fee. The $899NT pass includes a ticket to the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village, which is a theme park and requires a day itself to visit it so not worth it if you plan to be here for just one day. The $599 and $899 NT pass gives you a chance to receive a free souvenir if you manage to collect one of the "blessing" stamps from one of the temples. Too bad you have to get back to the Shuishe Visitor Center before they close at 5:00 pm to be able to exchange it.

It's winter here in Taiwan and the weather was cold and dreadful back in Hsinchu but the weather at Sun Moon Lake was sunny and beautiful, still cold though. The attractions around Sun Moon Lake are very spread out and is not feasible to walk so public transit wise, the Round-the-Lake Bus is your best option, either pay $80 NT for unlimited rides or $21 NT for each section. The bus had mini windows that you could open so I managed to snap some photos as the bus made it's way around the lake.

first glimpse of sun moon lake
Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake on Taiwan and got it's name because the eastern part of the lake is round like the sun while the western part has a crescent shape. Looking at a map outline of the lake I really can't see the resemblance. LOL. Sun Moon Lake is also home to the Thao tribe, one of the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan. With a population of less than 300 people, the Thao tribe is one of the smallest government recognized aboriginal tribes.

1 comment:

  1. Let me know if you find any of the other dumplings in SF. I wanna try them too!