Sunday, September 20, 2015

Taitung, Taiwan: Who Knew Taiwan Could Be So Pretty!?

For my grandma's birthday, the fam decided to take a trip to the coast to celebrate - which was super exciting for me, given I've never been anywhere in Taiwan other than Taipei.  My dad didn't join us as he was heading back to the States, but my mom, sister, bro-in-law, and I made the trip. We had our own tour guide and bus who escorted our huge clan of relatives for the entire time - and there was enough driving that we managed to finish 2.5 movies over the next two days. #efficient  And it was so gorgeous!

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Took a 2.5 hour train out to Taitung - on the east coast of Taiwan. 
Madre and me on the train
  • We had a family tour bus, who picked us up from the station and trucked us to the first stop, which was an indigenous village where native Taiwan people resided (most of Taiwan is populated from Han Chinese immigrants originally from China, so this indigenous village was the original originals - a la Native Americans).  
The guy in the water is from the indigenous village - he was showing us how they used to fish
In these villages, they used to heat up special rocks over the fire and put the rocks in their soup to make the soup boil. You can see the soup dish is made out of a tree leaf as well
And then they let us make mochi, which was super hard work
  • Next stop on the bus was this very pretty lake (I can't remember names of any of these places). You could wander around the lake or take a super fast speedboat around the edge of the lake, which six of us opted for - mind you, my entire extended family was there so there were about 15-16 of us in total.
The pretty, nameless lake

On the speedboat - brother in law, sister, mother, mom's cousin, and aunt
Me, mom and sister
  • Last stop of the day was this super-pretty neighborhood called Yun Shan Shuei (literally translated, it means: clouds, mountains, water) - people had constructed this neighb in the middle of nowhere. The neighborhood has gorgeous lakes and homes and scenery views.
Pretty, yet random, neighborhood
We love Totoro!
A horrendously large grasshopper
Our tour guide is on the back right
  • That night, we drove out to our resort, called the Butterfly Valley Resort - we stayed in the cutest bungalows in the resort, and the entire place had hiking trails, nature forests, a butterfly, hot springs, etc. etc.  Truly a retreat.
    Ahhh, huge rooms. Love the perks of traveling with the fam
Irene, Sherm and I tried out the hot springs pools after dinner. By "Irene, Sherm, and I", I mean "me."  There were a ton of pools of different temperatures, and they all had different buttons you could push that would turn on different jets and water flows and taps.  It was the coolest. Oh, and they made me wear a shower cap.
I tried out all the buttons and taps
  • The next morning, my mom, sister and I got up super early to go hiking and explore the resort before we had to meet the tour guide.  
Hiking mom and sister
The gorgeous river that ran along the path
Mini waterfalls everywhere
The river is a gorgeous blue due to phosporous. Scenery was so pretty
X-jumping on the suspension bridge
Then we made it to a waterfall
  • You know what happens when you get up super early to hike?  You do a ton of stuff and by the time you're finished, it's only like, 9AM.  Amazing.  We reconvened with the group and our gigantor bus, which trucked us off to the oceanside.  Ahhh the ocean is SO. PRETTY.  It was surprisingly, surprisingly pretty.
Ocean view from the bus. The entire coastline was like this
The amount of photos I took out the bus window was unreal
One part of the coast we stopped by had tons of concrete shape-y things and small wooden goats everywhere. Asia is the best.
And then we stopped at this crazy pretty island with a famous bridge that has 8 bumps.
The other side of the coastline
I don't know what Sherman is doing
For lunch, we went to a place with indigenous cuisine - and a sushi boat!!
And of course, fish with their heads still on
Next to lunch was the prettiest beach with black sand

I think I forget sometimes that Taiwan is a beautiful island, and I loved getting to see stuff out of the city.  I also really loved getting to spend time with my extended family (who are spread out over Taiwan and California - with the exception of my parents) - it's super rare that we all get to get together, so that was a treat also.  

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