Taiwan Day 6 – Sun Moon Lake (2a)

The next two days brought us back to Sun Moon Lake, where we had been before with Shuwen’s sister Jane, and her mother. I know, that sounds kinda weird, but the decision to take her mother to Sun Moon Lake was a spontaneous one, while our 2-day stay was planned ahead and we booked the B&B way in advance.

Besides that, we only did the boat tour and ropeway ride (do you “ride” a cablecar? Or what is it called?) on our first visit, plus the visit to Wenwu temple. While that reduced the number of things we wanted to do during our 2 days somewhat (no need to do the boat stuff twice), with that little winding road going all around the lake, there was still plenty left to do.

We arrived late in the morning and our first stop was the Cihen Pagoda, a quite tall structure that is open to the public. It is located on a little hill overlooking the lake, and if it hadn’t been for the sucky weather with low-hanging clouds again, I believe this could have been quite a nice spot (particularly for sunrise or sunset).

The pagoda itself was built in 1971 by late president Chiang Kai Shek in honor of his mother (what would Sigmund Freud have said to that?!). The land it stands on is at an elevation of 954m and the pagoda itself is 46m tall – which makes it reach 1000m precisely at it’s highest point. Nice detail, hu? But the funniest bit perhaps is that Shuwen was hoping for an elevator. grin

I made a panoramic photo from the top of the pagoda, stitched from eight D800 images, and it adds up to a 133 megapixel file. It is available in the “Taiwan Landscapes and Scenery” gallery.

After climbing the pagoda, enjoying the views over the lake and the vertigo-inducing view down, we continued to Ita Thao village and our B&B, but the room wasn’t ready yet to check in, so we had lunch at one of the “guide recommended” restaurants in the village. While the presentation of the dishes was quite nice (like, shrimp and fish on a tiny little raft of bamboo), the food itself was rather bland and “meh”, can’t help it. Actually, it happened to us quite often that places recommended in guides were not good anymore, not there anymore, or changed in whichever other way. Taiwan is a country that changes quickly – too quickly for printed guides to keep up, it seems.

After lunch, we checked in to the “Full House” bed & breakfast – it’s quite a cute place, a two-story building that is crammed full of artworks collected by the owners wife, plus the walls decorated with her own paintings, quite unique and charming. Unfortunately, the out-of-control tourism and development placed high-rising hotels and other buildings (partly still in construction, hello noise) all around it – must be really painful for the owners of “Full House” to see this happening. It’s a shame. Lake view? Not anymore…

The place is also known for it’s unique “fruit dinners” – a combination of meat, fish or mushroom dishes with fresh fruits like papaya, pineapple, and mango (needless to say, papaya and pineapple and whatnot all grow directly in Taiwan, so they’re super-fresh, ripe, and delicious!). It was expensive but had received high praise, so we went for it. It was really good, but as a whole, maybe a bit overrated (and definitely over-priced, IMHO). I found the combination of wild hog with pineapple particularly weird – the hog had a very strong “gamey” taste, and the fresh pineapple could not really help with that at all. Salmon with mango was a great combination, I really liked it. The portions were big and we couldn’t finish it (or weren’t really eager to, in the case of the hog dish;-).

The only problem with Ita Thao (the village were we stayed) is: there’s really nothing to do in the evenings. We wandered around the village after dinner, I had the camera with me and tried myself at some street photography, but you can’t kill an entire evening with that. So we bought a deck of playing cards at one of the ever-present 7-11 convenience stores, and I taught Shuwen how to play “Mau-Mau” (a German combination card game much like “Uno”, but played with a normal deck of cards, not that totally superfluous special set of “Uno” cards that you can’t use for anything but playing “Uno” – sorry, just had to say it). It was great fun. πŸ™‚

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