Taiwan Day 11 – Xinshe & Dongshi

We had stayed at another motel for the night, because I had a certain longing for a softer mattress but we weren’t as lucky this time… the motel was older, and while the room was clean, the furniture and appliances were somewhat shabby and run-down. That’s not so bad per se (one could say it had character;-) but what was really terrible was the smell of cigarettes that seemed to come straight out of the walls, the curtains, the AC, everywhere. It felt like smoking passively. :-/

And, just like some nights before at lower elevations, it was warm and humid so there was no sleep to be found without AC, and due to the noise, there was no sleep to be found with the AC, either. 😛

The next day promised to be relaxing though, because our friends Caroline and Benson picked us up after breakfast (which we had at my favorite Baozi place, once more) and took us out for the entire day, all around Taichung County.

Our first stop after about an hour’s drive was at Xinshe Castle, a popular tourist destination with a beautiful park, a waterfall flowing into a big pond with huge Koi (the largest probably more than 1m/3ft long!), little pavilions in the shade everywhere. We had lunch, and took a slow and relaxed walk through the park afterwards, feeding the Koi (it’s quite funny: in Europe and America, there would be a sign saying “do not feed the fish!” for sure – here, you could buy Koi food, and cause the fish to go all crazy;-) and making photos of Caroline and Benson.

The castle and park are very photogenic/scenic spots, well maintained and pretty, and are a popular area for photographers to make photos. There was a group of younger folks, with the girls dressed up in a manga/anime princess style, for example. It was interesting to see that no one really cares much where you’d go and set up your camera and lighting stuff once you paid the entrance fee (just like normal visitors). Compare that to the US, where park administrations, companies and counties and who-knows all go crazy about commercial photography on their holy premises (it’s not like photographers are taking anything away or making a fortune when they make a photo, you know?)…

Our next stop was the Forest Park of the Dongshi District, and in the afternoon some clouds/fog moved in on that area, making it cooler (but still pretty damp) and more pleasant (which happened again the following days, and was pure awesomeness, but there’ll be separate posts for that, of course). From the parking lot, we took a short walk to a hotel/cafe inside the park (it is very typical that forest parks and recreation areas have restaurants and hotels so that people can stay right inside the park/area) and had some coffee and dessert, before we headed out for an extended walk on one of the park’s trails. Just in case I didn’t mention it yet: the forests of Taiwan are absolutely lovely! 🙂

For the evening, Caroline and Benson took us to the heart of Taichung City, to a restaurant inside a hotel, with a fantastic seafood buffet. Chefs were waiting to take orders to prepare fresh fish, sushi was prepared fresh all the time, there was a huge salad bar, large selection of sides, and an extend array of desserts. 😀 It was all very delicious! Well fed, full and tired, our friends dropped us off at Shuwen’s parents house where we’d stay for the night, before beginning the final leg of our trip on the next day, to Shan Lin Xi and Xi Tou.

Just like Yvonne the day before, Caroline and Benson took an entire day’s time to spend with us, show us around and entertain us – to then say “sorry we didn’t take better care of you”, which, according to Shuwen, is a typical thing to do and say if you’re the host. :-S It’s complete nonsense of course, because they took care of everything. Thanks a lot for the pleasant day, friends!

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