Taipei Series: Dreamy Nantou

Ahhhh weekend... It was a tough week at work, and I assume it'll be even tougher this coming week... so I'm bracing myself and currently on a self-imposed house arrest. I just finished doing two loads of laundry and threw in my beddings at the last minute. In between loads, I was watching "Still Alice". Gosh I cant remember when was the last time I entered a movie house. I'm such a cheapskate these days that I download whatever I can download online. A movie here costs NT$300+ (that's around Php500 without your big bag of popcorn), so I'd rather watch in the comfort of my room, with lights out and socks on- apparently it still is winter in this island and even with the windows closed, I still have to turn on my mini heater for some warmth. 

Anyhoooo, after bawling my eyes out in one of the most heart-wrenching films I've watched to date, I'd like to take some time  off and blog about our weekend trip to Nantou (南投). We had to plan it ahead of time because bus tickets get sold out very fast, especially on long weekend holidays. I was in charge of looking for a minsu (hostel or homestay) and booking for bus tickets. I was able to finalize everything as early as the first week of January and my friends Kimji, Hana and Kuya Ronald were my travel companions. 

We boarded the bus in Taipei Main Station early Friday morning, at 7:00am and reached Nantou around 11:30am. The son of our minsu owner, Mr. Lee, came to pick us up and brought us to our first destination, Cingjing Farm (清境農場). Mr. Lee took care of our overnight bags and told us to take our lunch first before heading to the farm. We walked around the farm and cooled down with yummy goat's milk ice cream. The weather in Nantou is 100x better than in Taipei... cool breeze with a burst of spring sunshine. Here are some snaps I took at the farm. 

Mr. Lee fetched us at a nearby 7-Eleven around 5:30pm, just in time for our scheduled hotpot dinner at the minsu. We were surprised when he brought us to our "room" because we all thought it was just going to be a "room". This, my friends, is our dreamy minsu, with a breathtaking view. We stayed at the lower "cabin" with two double beds and an ensuite bath, with free wifi and drinks. I highly recommend this minsu. The minsu's name is Starry House. The website is in Chinese, so if you need help in booking, do let me know :) 

After we settled in, we took a walk and breathed in all the fresh air that we can. We walked over to the dinner area and feasted on the sumptuous hotpot meal prepared by Mr. Lee and his staff. This is the main building of the minsu, and the little girl on a bike is Mr. Lee's darling daughter. The most talkative 5-year old I've met, she asked her dad, "Can I stay here with them and have a chat?" So adorable!!! 

After dinner, we checked-in and confirmed with Mr Lee our plan to have a Hehuanshan Sunrise Tour the next day. We were instructed to be ready by 4:45 am and wait at the minsu's main entrance. There will be a van with a driver-guide who will take us to Hehuanshan (Mount Hehuan). We went back to our cabin, took a long hot shower and slept soundly at past 9:00pm. When the alarm went off at 3:30am, we changed to our super winter outfits with several layers on. It was pitch black when we headed out, and arrived Mt. Hehuan at 5:30am. Sunrise at the time was expected at 6:18am so we had several minutes to shoot some photos. We braved the cold, went out of the van at freaking 3-degreeC weather. After 5 minutes of shivering in the cold, we decided to get back in and waited for a couple more minutes. We went out at 6:10am and witnessed God's glorious sunrise. The world was awaking, and greeting everyone a very good morning.

Seeing the sunrise felt very magical. My heavy heart lightened up, and I realized there is God showing His love to me once again... God always has His ways to take away my pain. Feeling the rays of sun kiss my face amid the biting cold weather, was just immensely beautiful. I'm glad we planned this trip. With happy smiles, our driver took all of us back to the hostel to grab breakfast. We were served a very healthy and filling meal, with a perfect cup of hot mellow milk tea. Here's our meal with a very pretty view. 

We packed up and took a short nap before leaving. Mr. Lee drove us to the bus stop and we had enough time to take some light lunch, and kill time in Starbucks (Yes they have Starbucks in Nantou!). We left Nantou at 1:00pm and arrived in Taipei Main Station at 5-ish pm. I will never forget this trip. If you are to ask me which places are my favorite here in Taiwan, I'd say Nantou and Hualien. So if you are visiting Taiwan anytime soon, I hope you'll include this in your travel plans. It is soooo worth the 4-hour bus ride. And of course, visit in spring when lovely flowers and cherry blossoms are blooming!


Rea Ninja said...

Beautiful place Jackie! It's breathtaking!! Your photos are lovely. A sunrise tour sounds dreamy. Gaaahh. Hope to visit one of these days.

Jacqueline Uy said...

Thank you, Rea :) It really is very beautiful, I hope you can visit :)

Mrs. Panda said...

your pictures made me look for possible trip packages to Nantou at 3am :)

Lux G. said...

What a beautiful place! It's stunning. I think a week long vacation would not be enough if you're surrounded with such beauty.

Jacqueline Uy said...

Hi Mrs Panda :) If you need a breath of fresh air out of SG, visit naman TW! :)

Thank you, Lux :)

Girl Chasing Sunshine said...

Hope to make it to Cingjing when I return to Taiwan. Love the Hehuanshan sunrise photos. :)