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Published: December 2nd 2015
Map of Penghu Islands
The archipelago of the Penghu Islands 64 is located in the Taiwan Straits midway between China and Taiwan.
Every year on the 10th of October, Taiwan celebrates its' Independence with a 4 day long weekend. We decided, along with 5 other teachers, to visit Penghu Island (pronounced Pung hoo). On Thursday after school, we leisurely made our way to the airport. We arrived in Magong shortly after 6PM after a 45 minute flight.
Penghu County is an archipelago consisting of almost 100 islands and is also known as the Pescadores. It is famous for its great beaches, glorious temples and traditional Chinese-style homes surrounded by coral walls. In the summer months Penghu is hot and beautiful, while in winter and spring the archipelago is possibly the windiest place in the northern hemisphere. Many consider Penghu a windsurfing paradise and we would agree, the winds were consistently strong all the time we were there.
The islands were formed from the solidified lava of volcanic eruptions some 17 million years ago. This has resulted in predominantly low lying grasslands, stunning rock formations and towering basalt columns. Most of the 100,000 inhabitants live on four larger islands which are joined by land bridges. The Islands are dotted with many small towns and fishing villages, and there are almost 150 temples.
C'est La Vie
Our room at the C'est La Vie Hotel was large and comfortable.
We noticed old fences built out of dead corral. These divide the garden plots and reduce wind so the seedlings have a chance to grow.
We were picked up at the airport and whisked to C'est La Vie, our hotel on Shanshiu Beach. Our room was on the 3rd floor overlooking the ocean and pool area. We changed and headed down to the pool, wallowed for awhile and then played crib. Annie and Chris arrived shortly after, followed by Gene, Leah and Lulu. They had arrived in the afternoon and had been to Magong and returned bearing beer and snacks. We sat by the pool and visited until it was time to head to bed.
We tried to sleep in but by 7AM, we were enjoying the view from our balcony overlooking the ocean while sipping coffee with a perfect breeze keeping us cool. We joined our traveling companions for breakfast and around 10AM headed out to rent scooters. Linda, with her expired international drivers' license, passport, Canadian driver's license and KAS business card, was able to rent 2 scooters, one for us and one for Chris and Annie. Go figure! After picking up the 3 girls in
View from the Balcony
The hotel was just a short walk from the beach, and this was the view from our balcony.
front of C'est La Vie, we headed out to explore Penghu, Paisha and Hsi Islands.
We passed gigantic wind turbines, saw oyster beds (out of season at the moment), and noted the crooked trees which were bent due to the strong winds. We stopped off to see the basalt columns and enjoyed the spectacular views all along the coast. The weather was warm and have we mentioned the wind? Crossing the many bridges raised our definition of "windy" to a new level.
On the return ride back to our hotel we found a highly recommended seafood restaurant and tried baby squid, fish, oysters, sea urchin roe, fried rice and seaweed, quesadilla type finger food.....and beer. The seafood was phenomenal!
After a rest and shower the group met by the pool to visit and play cards but we soon gave that up and headed for our rooms. Maurice and I skyped Canada and visited with Mom, then Cory, Vicky and the boys. They were so cheerful and happy in the AM.
Saturday morning we were the first of our group to arrive for breakfast at 8AM and immediately struck up a conversation with a group of Chinese
Linda, with her expired international motorcycle license, her ARC, her passport, her Canadian driver's license and KAS business card overwhelmed them with English documents, and managed to rent 2 scooters.
visitors (they didn't speak English). We poured them coffee and then Lulu arrived to bail us out and do some translating for us. We changed and headed off to the beach. Shanshui beach is considered the prettiest of the beaches and at this time of year, the beach morning glories make it hard to dispute that. Maurice and I walked to the deep water harbour on our left, then walked to our right over a kilometer. Atop a 30 meter high rise of land at the far end of the beach, there was an old military look out which was surrounded by cactus. No one would ever attempt to climb those cliffs and attack Penghu! We spread our towel on the golden sand and swam in the gorgeous azure colored ocean waters. The wind picked up and we were getting sand blasted and so we all headed to the pool instead.
After lunch, we went to explore the Kuibishan Chiyu Geopark, an island which can only be accessed on foot when the tide is out. We stopped at the Penghu Tourist Centre and gained an understanding of how the temples and buildings were arranged on the island. After a
Windy on the Scooters
Strong gusts of wind made scootering across the bridges challenging.
nap, we headed to a Taiwanese barbeque for supper where they bring your table glowing charcoal trays and set them into the table. People help themselves to oysters, squid, shrimp, fish balls and fish cakes, chicken, pork, sweet potato, mushrooms, green beans, pumpkin and more. We BBQ'd, visited and just as we were about to leave, fireworks went off just a short ways away celebrating the 10/10 weekend here on Penghu Island. We scootered back and called it a night.
Sunday morning, our group slowly made their way to breakfast where we visited and swapped stories. We checked out of our rooms, returned the scooters, read and relaxed. Around 11:30 we got little bored, and so headed to Magong. We hadn't visited the city yet, and figured it was a good way to kill the hour and a half before heading back to Kaohsiung. We visited 'Old Street' and wandered the winding streets tasting cactus ice cream and other Penghu treats. Then it was back to Kaohsiung.
We were back in our apartment by 3PM. Maurice went to the market to buy fruit and vegetables for the coming week. Linda did homework.
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