Tour Wulai Aboriginal Village, Hot Springs and Waterfall

Wulai Village is an hour’s ride from Taipei on winding roads or take the MRT from Xindian Station. It is the only aboriginal town in New Taipei City, and home of Atayal tribe people, one of Taiwan’s 14 aboriginal tribes. Surrounded on all sides by mountains, tourist attractions include: streams, soaking in one of the hot springs, waterfalls, cable cars, motorized rail pushcarts, indigenous singing and dancing, and unending food.

The name Wulai derives from the Atayal phrase “boiling water” which refers to the hot springs and legend says Wulai was the tribe’s traditional hunting ground. Tourists usually begin sightseeing in one of two villages at either end and separated by a few miles; the village closet to the waterfall or Wulai Old Street. Both compact towns are easily covered on foot. A map is posted next to the bus stop, with all tourist destinations clearly marked in English.

 

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Three Must See Tours for All Tourists in Taipei

Yes, we are still in Taipei with only four different excursions planned today. Two out of four excursions could easily occupy an entire day and a vacation after this vacation is needed. Three places are part of every sightseeing itinerary in Taipei: Martyrs’ Shrine for Changing of the Guard; National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and National Palace Museum.

The easiest one to see is the Martyrs’ Shrine for Changing of the Guard. This shrine is dedicated to 390,000 soldiers killed in the service of their country during the War of Resistance against Japan and the civil war between the Chinese Republican and Communist forces. A major attraction at the shrine is the hourly ceremony for the changing of the honor guard in front of the main gate. We arrived at 8:50a which allowed just enough time to stand with onlookers outside the shrine and wait until the ceremony promptly began at 9:00a.

 

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Food, Glorious Food in Taipei’s Famous Night Markets

Night markets, food stalls, street food, food courts…so little time and so many choices. Let’s begin with the most famous night markets:

- Shilin Night Market is probably the most famous and largest night market. It began in the early Nineteenth Century near a temple as a day market to sell seafood, meat, fruit, vegetables and grew after World War II until hundreds of vendors fill the road.

- Keelung Night Market is open day and night. Slightly outside of Taipei, it has two long rows of food stands where you can sit at the counter and order your food. Stands have numbers, names and a brief English description; point or nod if you don’t speak Chinese.

 

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Yangming Park and Volcanic Yangmingshan

Marine and I began our explorations in Taiwan by staying at the luxurious, five-star Landis Hotel in Taipei for six nights and did day trips from here. Another big day, chock full of sightseeing would begin in Yangming Park and then continue into Volcanic  Yangmingshan National Park, an easy ride from Taipei.

Yangming Park is located in the northern part of Beitou and is now a popular summer resort because of its cool climate. A Chinese-style garden inside the park includes: elegant buildings, pavilions, fountains and ponds. A flower clock is a park landmark and broadcasts music every half hour which we managed to miss. Walk through the flowering trees and shrubs and look for the “Horse Tree Pines” with long needles that do resemble a horse tail. Watch ducks. The ones we saw appeared to have abandoned a nest filled with duck eggs. And pop into one of the many food stalls and restaurants if feeling a little hungry. Locals were picnicking on a beautiful day and even more people were getting exercise on the trails and along the road.

 

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Shopping for Bargains in Taipei?

I don’t shop for Gucci, Prada; only “stuff” - an unusual T-shirt, or supposed antique –  and discovered there are no bargains in Taipei although I did my best. It is illegal to sell counterfeit aka knock-off goods in Taiwan just as it is in China, but Taiwan enforces this law and I never saw one “Gucci” purse.

I scoured Wu Fen Pu Wholesale Garment Market after reading reviews touting this place is where to find the most fashionable and cheapest clothes in Taipei. Located near Songshan Train Station and Raohe Night Market, Wu Fen Pu is the largest outdoor clothing market in Taipei. Several streets are filled with open front stores which hang samples from the ceiling; the actual clothing in different sizes is on the floor in clear plastic bags. You can’t try on anything, and sizes are limited. Have you ever noticed how petite (another name for bone-thin) Asian women are? And one seller went ballistic when I dared step into her space for a closer look at a hanging item. Retailers come to purchase clothes displayed for their own stores and unless you have nothing but time, forget about Wu Fen Pu. Read more »

TravelsWithSheila Guide to Atacama Desert, Chile

Now available on Amazon is my latest Fast & Easy Travel Guide to Atacama Desert. Have you ever considering visiting the Atacama Desert in Chile?

Mention Atacama Desert and travelers usually respond, “Huh?” Well, Atacama in Northern Chile spans 41,000 square miles across four South American countries (really) and is the driest place in the world! Can you imagine a destination that receives only four inches of rain every 1,000 years? Arid, yes, but the Atacama also has an ultra-dramatic landscape, red canyons, turquoise thermal lakes, lunar valleys, flamingos, llama and the third largest geyser field in the world.

 

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How to Use the Metro System in Taipei

Metro or Subway or MRT lines in Taipei is very easy to use, whether or not you speak Chinese. There are six, color-coded main lines: Danshui (red), Xindian (green), Muzha (brown), Zhonghe (gold), Bannan (royal blue, and Xiaonanmen (light green). Just like metro lines around the world, all riders have to do is proceed in the direction of the last stop and/or change at transfer junctions. Watch the Beijing video below to see how easy it is since I did not video the Taipei system. However, they are exactly the same. Maps in English and Chinese are posted in every station, in cars and on platforms.

 

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A Fast Tour of Jiufen Heritage Sights, Taiwan

There was a lot more to see in charming Jiufen than just food; not that there’s anything wrong with that. Tourists roamed up and down stairs leading to small alleys and lanes, trying not to knock each other off steps in the process, in and out of shops and then guide Gordon led us to the ShengPing Theater.

ShengPing Theater was originally called the “ShengPing Stage” and built by Emperor Shiaowa in 1934 during the Japanese occupation. Reconstructed in 1961, this cultural landmark is located on Qingbian Road and architectural elements are Baroque-style, popular during the Japanese Occupation. Six seat style seating can be seen on the main floor while wooden chairs set grandstand style can be seen on the upper level.

 

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Tour Charming Jiufen Village in Taiwan

Jiufen is located in hilly northeast Taiwan and like Jinguashi, was once the center of gold mining. This poor village had only nine families in 1890 before the gold rush began which swelled its population to 4,000 families. Jiufen soon became known as Asia’s gold city and called, “Little Shanghai” or “Little Hong Kong.” Eventually gold mining activities declined, and Jiufen faded away until tourists discovered its little streets.

Adorable, packed to the max Old Street runs through town center and is filled with stalls selling chiefly food including Jiufen’s most famous country snack, a yam dish. I couldn’t believe how one narrow little street could be so mobbed with people shopping and buying food from stalls on both sides of the street. Large tour buses and cars let off passengers at one of the two narrow entrances to Old Street and zoom off to park “somewhere.”

 

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Kinkasecki POW Camp in Jinguashi, Taiwan

Marine Steve and I feel that it is imperative to pay respects at POW camps, War Memorials, and Genocide Memorials; to honor Victims whoever they may be. We sadly knew nothing about POW camps in Taiwan until this visit to Jinguashi and are compelled to relay the facts so those who suffered will never be forgotten.

Jinguashi Village on the Northeast coast of Taiwan had the largest copper mine in the Japanese Empire and in November 14, 1942, 523 Allied POWs were brought from Singapore after the island surrendered to the Japanese. More than 1,100 British Commonwealth and Allied prisoners ended up slaving in this notorious Japanese camp until March 1945, subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.

 

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