08 – 11 June 2015
Traveling up north from the south to the central city of Taiwan, Taichung (臺中), which is also the third largest city on the island. From Kaohsiung to Taichung, it takes about two hours on the high speed rail. On this leg of the trip, there is a total of three places that I would like to introduce:
- Miyahara Ice Cream (宫原眼科)
- Xitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區)
- Taichung National Museum of Natural Science (國立自然科學博物館)
After so much walking around, it’s time for some food! For most people that visit Taichung for the first time, they will most probably be recommended to visit this place. So why the long queue outside Miyahara (宫原眼科)? When we first heard the name from a friend, I was confused as to why this spectacles shop is a MUST GO? A brief history of the name, during the Japanese occupation, this shop was originally an ophthalmology hospital. Now, the building has been bought by a Taiwan business and they have refurnished to look Harry Potter-ish with a little old school charm. The shop sell lots of Taiwanese desserts in very lovely containers and they would make for wonderful travel gifts.
After being awed by the interiors of the shop, don’t forget the best part, the ice cream! This also explains the super long queue outside. Actually, you can enjoy the ice-cream indoors, within the shop restaurant, but takeaway is a little cheaper (no need to pay service tax). My advice is to try to eat on weekdays, as we heard that the queue can be quite long on Fridays and weekends! In any case, I am sure you will have a good time here and take your time to choose your ice-cream, I guarantee that there will be lots of choices to make (flavours, no. of scoops and even the toppings).
If you are itching to go out, one place to hike around is Xitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區). This is a little further away from the city area and you would have to take the Taiwan Tourist shuttle that has fixed timings or hire a taxi to bring you there. The Xitou Nature Education Area is just behind the Xitou Monster Village and the shuttle will stop there and you will just be a few minutes’ walk away. It is a large area, so put aside enough time if you wish to cover the entire park. It is on slightly elevated ground, so the temperature is cool. As a result, it is also a great place to visit in summer and lots of locals visit to escape the summer heat or take a short hike without the perspiration. The park has many routes and forest types. Take your time to explore and I am sure that you will discover many interesting flora and fauna on your hikes.
Lastly, if you are a natural history fan, you cannot miss the visit to the Taichung National Museum of Natural Science. There are several halls in the museum, ranging from themes in zoology, botany, geology, and anthropology. In the zoology and botany sections, there are really good exhibits on how life began on Earth, representation of well-known fossils (mainly dinosaurs) as well as modern day plant and animal diversity. As with any museum, there also have permanent exhibits with temporary ones, so do check it out to see what are the ongoing exhibits. And if you are still game after walking the main museum, there is a botanical garden across the road for you to explore.
In Taichung, it was a blast, filled with yummy food and exciting places to visit! We now had to visit another part of Taiwan. It’s time to travel to north-eastern Taiwan, let’s go to Hualien!