From the Chang Kai Shek Memorial, it’s a short one stop subway ride to the train station. Taipei Main Station is a bit surreal. The building is from the 1940’s and shows it’s age, but in a charming way. The timetable above the ticket counter isn’t digital, but the old rotating block system- similar to a clock from the 80’s. Watch ‘Back to the Future’ if you’re too young to remember these.
Food counters crowd out the rest of the Station, and you pass through various enticing smells, from dumplings to cake. This is not a place you walk around hungry.
Only standing room tickets were available from Taipei to Taichung. I bought my ticket and made the mad dash to the underground trains. It’s a two hour journey, which isn’t terrible when you have a book to read. These days, I always have my Nook app loaded up with a few new purchases before I travel anywhere. Paperback is nice as well, but let’s be realistic.
It had been grey and drizzling in Taipei, but the sun peeked out of the clouds a bit in Taichung. I didn’t really get to see much of this city, but it seems like a nice university town.
At the Tourist Information counter at Taichung Station, they pulled out a laminated map of the path to the Sun Moon Lake bus. Clearly, this is a common request. The buses are privatized, and it’s a longer walk from the station than I expected. Fortunately, there was always someone to point me in the right direction.
It’s an hour and a half bus ride to the lake, but very manageable. The bus has wifi and the seats are very comfortable.
Immediately after stepping off the bus, an older woman rushed me and hustled me over to the ferry ticket counter. I had researched ferry ticket prices beforehand, so I knew the 300 NTD price was reasonable. With ticket in hand, I got on the ferry.
My hostel-Perbed Hostel, was the third stop in the loop the ferries circle around the lake. While it was foggy, the view of the lake was still beautiful.
Now I’m going to bring up a bit of an awkward topic-when I got off the ferry, one of the guys working on the boat helped me off, saying, “You are so beautiful. Do you have a boyfriend?” This wasn’t the only line I heard in Taiwan. The door guard at the capsule inn in Taipei also commented on my looks and asked if I needed a body guard. You get these sort of comments in Korea as well, but I found the looks and comments were more frequent in Taiwan. This happened everywhere I traveled in the country. Some women just shrug them off, but I found it a bit uncomfortable. Dude, I just want to be left alone.
The hostel was great, and had a unique concept. It’s run by high school and university students who do a workstay there. They clean, cook breakfast, and run the hostel in return for a nice place to stay at the lake. There’s also a pet cat at the hostel that the one permanent employee feeds.
After checking in, I headed out with my camera to look around the market again and grab some dinner.
This was dinner. It tasted great, but didn’t sit well on my stomach. Either I can’t handle spicy food as well as I thought, or something else was in there.
The most adorable macaw was at one shop! He said ‘Ni hao’, but was a bit camera shy. What a cutie!
I headed back early to the hostel to try and rest. Couldn’t sleep! This was at another great hostel, but the small noises of the other guests were enough to keep me out of dreamland.
Again, it was raining and foggy.
The fog cleared up in the morning after a bit. The lake looked like the lagoon in Peter Pan!
There’s an indigenous peoples’ settlement (Taiwan’s version of a reservation) on the side of the lake I was staying. It’s a mixed experience, since most of the buildings are not in the best shape, but I found all of the residents very welcoming.
On some wise advice, I took myself to Olive Young in the afternoon and bought some pain killer and sleeping pills. Sweet, sweet sleeping pills. My mother had warned me how addictive they can be, but sometimes you just have to accept a little help from the pharmaceuticals.
That night, the hostel staff invited me out to dinner, along with two Chinese university students. It was so nice to eat with the group, and have some good company!
While we were in town, they picked up black sesame dumplings. The students cooked these up back at the hostel, and served them in a ginger broth. I’d never had a dessert like it before, and would love to replicate it again!
My second night was much more enjoyable because of the sleep aids.
The next morning, I visited a temple before taking the bus back to Taichung for the next part of the journey!