About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dragon Boat Weekend in Shoufeng 壽豐鄉

Just a 2 hour train away from Yilan is the Rift Valley town of Shoufeng. It has what is said, to have the most beautiful University campus in Taiwan (National Donghwa University 國立東華大學), which I only admired from the road. The area is breathtaking and only a 15 minute drive away, in the same township is the Pacific coast.
View from our window Sea Hi BnB
We stayed at the Sea Hi BnB for 2 nights, which included breakfast.  The grounds were beautiful and out of our window was a view of the green garden and sea. We could hear the lazy, lapping waves. The quirky owner (who speaks no English) has all kind of Roman statues of gods and goddesses, and guests have signed and graffitied his rock collection. There's all kind of nooks and crannies to sit and read a book, play cards, throw down a yoga mat.
View from our window Sea Hi BnB

My coworker who teaches environmental science lives on a farm in Shoufeng. She was visiting family in Tainan for the weekend and gave me an extra set of keys to her jeep which was parked and waiting for us at Shoufeng station. What a luxury! After we filled up the tank, we headed to Liyu Lake. I always wanted to go there. The weather looked like it would rain, but we just went for it. My kid insisted on going on a swan paddleboat (I'd prefer the kayak). But it was fun, we paddled to the other side and back in 30 minutes (300NT an hour), and then went to a cafe with rooms (looked like a nice place to stay for next time) on the edge of the lake on our way to the bike rentals. After over priced coffee we rented bikes and enjoyed a wiz around the lake. We spotted several hiking trail heads for next time. About halfway around the lake it started pouring so we just finished our loop and returned the bikes.

One more stop before we checked in, the Taiwan Jade Workshop. They had DIY which my kid loves, and it being a a now rainy afternoon, not much else to do. It was in fact, very interesting. I still do not understand the process so much even after making our necklaces.

100% Concentration

My daughter had the fantastic idea of making a necklace for each other. We chose a template shape and jade color and then passed through 6 stations of sanding, water, shaping and buffing before choosing our string. I made her a pink dove and she made me a green leaf.

We were starving by now so I thought we could eat some fish at the Lichuan Fishmarket. It turned out to be a tourist trap, catered to big groups and families, my Z was not impressed. So we googled places to eat and I saw Ian's Table which was open. I am familiar with his food column in the Taipei Times, and he was literally 5 minutes away. Unfortunately google was wrong he wasn't opened, reservations were required and it was too pricey, 1200NT a head for a 4 course Mediterranean meal. Maybe next time. I headed to our BnB hoping they could whip us something. We ended up walking 3 minutes down the road to the famous 055 Lobster Seafood Restaurant . It was pricey, but there were budget options. We had a simple dinner of lobster miso soup  with a side of greens, a large plate of fried clams, beer (for me) and 2 small bowls of rice for 600NT. The place was packed so we dined al fresco in company with the Pacific, which for me was the best table in (well outside) the house .

Chilling at SeaHi

I was surprised to find out the closest convenience store was 50 km away, so the next day when we did pass a 7-11 on our road trip, I was sure to stop for beer and snacks.

The full day of our road trip we planned on hitting the beaches and testing out our new full face snorkels for a friend who sells them online. First, we drove down to Ciji beach. There was someone camping in the parking lot with a gorgeous view of the Pacific. Unfortunately, the beach is fenced off with an admissions gate! It looked closed.


Bummed we drove down to the Tropic of Cancer Marker, bought some fruit and ice cream and turned the jeep around, heading north again. We stopped at some beautiful beaches along the way. A private one with camping and a simple cafe, we lunched on smoked wild boar and smoked flying fish (sold everywhere down the East Coast highway). The fish was great if not bony. The rocks made a natural pool, but it being a private beach , they didn't allow us to swim there.

So we  went to the geological wonder of Shitiping 石梯坪. The view of the lush mountains encamped with white clouds besides the aquamarine waters was breathtaking. It seemed crowded, but there was parking. People crawled around the rocks like little ants. We went as high as we could go over looking from the precipice into the breaking foam.

 It was hot, the water was too enticing but even in the shallow pools no one was swimming. My kid couldn't stand not being in the water but she was self conscious, knowing everyone holding their cameras would eventually turn their attention to the lone foreigner- swimming. We were wearing our swim suits anyways, so what the hell?! Once in the water, it began to rain, but that didn't matter either. Freedom washed over us as the crowds scrambled away.

View from Dashibi Hill
Making our way northward to our BnB we stopped for a quick hike at Dashibi Hill (大石鼻山). The very last stretch of the walk was roped off and the 7 or so people in front of us just sort of congregated under the pavilion besides the roped trail. Undaunted we just walked over the rope and continued to the top to enjoy a gorgeous view of Ciji Beach.

Ciji Beach was opened and they didn't charge us any entrance ticket, but alas, once again we weren't allowed to swim! We snacked on cold mung bean soup and bought some meat rice buns for dinner. We checked out the camping spots which were both covered and uncovered and had a BBQ grill at every tent site. It looked amazing. Tragically they had the whole beach roped off! I was tired of breaking rules, and yet we did dodge a rope and was about to walk on the beach when my kid's eagle eyes spotted a used hypodermic needle and syringe besides my foot. We were both too disgusted and just went back to the car. Our day was basically over anyways.  We used our last hour of sunlight playing cards at one of the little nooks on the green grounds of our BnB.

The next day we ate breakfast at 7, checked out early, returned the car at Shoufeng station and took the 8:30 train to Hualien. We were meeting the Dolphin Watching tour group for their  second morning tour, before heading back to Yilan. We had a somewhat uninteresting meeting before heading to the boats. What was clear was the dude can speak English and seemed to care about not disturbing the dolphins so much. They had seen sharks the tour before us, so I was hopeful. Please note that our BnB was literally 5 minutes away from the Farglory Ocean Park 遠雄海洋公園, which had tempting amusement park rides, and also dolphin shows. Z and I talked about how supporting the park would be supporting the capture and abuse of dolphins and both of us made the joint decision to see dolphins in the wild.

The Turtle Island dolphin tour we did the summer we moved to Yilan (when my family visited) was much better. We did see dolphins this time too, some of them doing tricks, but they were breeding and my operator was rightly not wanting to disturb them (unlike the other tour company). Still it was relaxing to be on the boat and spend time with my kid. The view of Hualien and the mountains was nothing short of stunning.

We returned to the train station and luckily caught the next train to Yilan. We didn't have seats, but we had a comfortable nook next to a wheel chair. It was a relief to be back home, but I was grateful for our mini Dragon boat adventure.

Things to Do/See/
Lao River/Cha Creek
Baibao River Bikeway
National Donghwa University 國立東華大學
Jiqi Beach: In Jiqi Bay Cape there is a Dashibi Hill Trail, visitors can observe the flora and fauna with the trail and and appreciate the terrain landscape. It is a natural ecological trail for families."
Shitiping Beach Going south: Follow Highway 11 to Taitung, pass Jingpu. At the 65 marker, you will see Shihtiping.Shitiping is a great place to observe intertidal ecology and an excellent place for diving. Shiti Level Ground has a well-equipped campground. Stay here and enjoy the sound of the waves on a starry night. It offers a wonderful experience."
1.Shitiping no shading facilities, beach, sunlight intensity, and equipment to complete, in addition to Sun Hat, pants, long-sleeved, thirst-quenching water more indispensable.
2.The initial visit, we recommend that you walk along a wooden plank road, from the first wooden Pavilion next to a stone walkway, about 2 km long, you can see the sea, you can also see the coastal plants .

Sand Po  Shabao Water Source: