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Published: September 28th 2009
(Day 532 on the road)
From Tainan, my mum and I took a combination of train and bus to Sun Moon Lake, the largest lake in Taiwan. On the way we had to change trains in a small little town, and walking around waiting for our connection we stumbled across a crammed tea shop manned by a lovely elderly couple. They spoke no English whatsoever, but with hands and feet they explained to us what their various teas on offer were good for (headache, throat problems, sleeping etc). My mum bought two packages, and leaving the shop she wanted to take a picture. The men felt compelled to put on his shirt for that, and the resulting picture of the old couple in their shop was was not of a very high photographic interest, but a memory to behold for us.
Arriving at the lake a few hours later in the pouring rain, the very helpful visitor centre organised a reasonably priced private room for us, and soon we were picked up by the friendly owner, who took an immediate liking to my mother. They were both of the same age and got along very well.
I usually don't recommend
places to stay, but this guest house at Sun Moon Lake deserves mentioning. Located right by the boat pier, the owner went out of her way time and time again to make our stay more enjoyable. Right after checking in she provided us with free boat tickets for a trip around the lake, of roughly equivalent value to our accommodation cost for one night. The next day she apologised wildly because some other noisy guests had been so loud the previous night, and she promptly threw them out even though they had already paid for a week in advance. She also offered us a considerable discount on the room rate for the following night as a further sign of her concern for our well-being. On our last day she went with us to the bicycle hire shop and got us a rate at less than half the price of what we would have paid. The place is called Sun Moon Lake Guesthouse, have a look at their website
for contact information (only in Chinese, but there is a telephone number and she speaks very good English).
So with our free boat tickets we set off the next morning on a
tour across the lake, stopping at tiny Lalu Island in the middle of the lake and at two other locations. The commentary was unfortunately only in Chinese, but it was a relaxing morning and it felt great to be out on the lake.
In the afternoon we went to find some hot springs near the lake. It took us a good three hours to get there (it was quite near and should have been much faster "in theory"), but it was well worth the trip. Attached to a resort hotel, they had various pools at different temperatures and even a steam room and a sauna, all in a lovely outdoor garden setting by a lake. We had the whole area virtually for us for a few hours, and by the time other people arrived it was time for us to leave anyway, in order to catch the last bus back to Sun Moon Lake.
On our last day at the lake we rented an electric bicycle which could seat two people. Driving around the lake at a leisurely pace (the bike was very slow, especially going uphill) we took in various temples, a huge pagoda and fine views
of the lake, before arriving back at our hostel in the afternoon.
The next morning it was already time to head to Taipei again as my mum's flight back to Europe was approaching. How fast our three weeks together had gone by!
Next stop: Taipei (Taiwan).
To view my photos, have a look at pictures.beiske.com
. And to read the full account of my journey, have a look at the complete book about my trip at Amazon
(and most other online book shops).
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