Day 4: Yilan, Miaoli, Taichung
The next morning, whether due to excitement at the many things available to play, or due to the light coming into the room from the early sunrise, the kids woke up at 6am. Since they woke up early and due to us not having to take too much out of our luggage because of the many amenities, we managed to be ready to go by 7 plus but because breakfast is only served at 8:30am, we took the kids out on a ride on the bicycles provided free. Glad to find that I can still control a bike with a child in the child seat. But of course I had the lighter and less wriggly younger child. Sophia was much harder for the dad to manage as she is much heavier and she was very scared. There was a bicycle track all around the nature area with many minsu and views of greenery, lotus lakes etc.
Breakfast at the minsu was light and delicious – pumpkin porridge served with a set of 9 side dishes mostly made with organic vegetables the minsu plants.
From there we set off to 梅话湖 but as Sandra was asleep, I did not get off. The original plan was to cycle around the lake yesterday but as the schedule was pushed back by the rain on day 2, there was only time for a photo stop.
From there we drove about 3 hours to Miaoli to the famous Flying Cow Ranch. We started with a meal at the Chinese restaurant which the rest think is nice and I feel is just passable. Sophia ate a lot though which I guess is an indication that it is not bad.
At the ranch we fed rabbits and goats. We missed the milk feeding for baby goats. Then we rushed to the DIY studios for cookie making. The cookies turned out looking nice but were quite hard. I think the recipe needs a bit of tweaking, perhaps some baking powder. Their recipe may work if the dough is worked more gently so that not so much gluten forms but when it’s done by customers who are unfamiliar it will be quite hard to ensure this.
After this is off to the minsu 叶绿宿 which was relatively new and seems to be receiving good reviews but after 自然捲 anything pales in comparison. Our 4 person room is quite large but the 2 person room is quite small. The windows are also small so the room feels dim. The location is great though very near the night market.
I stayed in to put Sandra in bed and my aunt took care of Sophia. The cousin and husband went to the night market to get dinner. 都教授來自星星的炸雞, 明倫蛋餅 and 甘梅地瓜 are good, 86碳烤雞排 and 官芝霖大腸包小腸 are so so.
Day 5: Taichung, Kenting
Today we woke up to local breakfast near the minsu as 叶绿宿 does not provide breakfast. The food was simple but tasty.
After this is a 5 hour drive to Kenting, which my cousin wanted to go for water sports.
As a concession to the kids the first stop was 垦丁海生馆 which was a large aquarium. Aquariums around the world are all similar and as far as species selection on display goes, this is probably not the best. However, it’s main attraction is a large water play area, which Sophia enjoyed for one hour with a newfound friend whose name she did not even know. They met at a dry playground and thereafter adjourned to the water play area. We were not forewarned there will be a water play area so had to buy some clothes for the kids to play in. The poor mum had to put up with wet clothes though.
At 5pm we were rushed by the tour guide to a small family operated eatery on the top of 关山 where we can view the sunset and enjoy some delicious local kueh.
After this, it’s off to the next hotel. 美栈 along 垦丁大街. It’s supposed to be a minsu but is large and feels commercially run. The location is right at the head of the night market so it’s very convenient. Comfort level wise it’s average. When we pushed the beds together to prevent the kids from falling off the edge, it revealed lots of dust and strangely feathers. But it’s probably not uncommon among hotels not to clean under the beds.
After dropping our stuff we went to the night market but did not eat much as we were all feeling very “heart” after many nights of fried and grilled night market food. The few things we did eat like grilled squid, fried milk and crispy Xiao Long Bao were not bad.
Day 6: Kenting, Kaohsiung
Breakfast at 美栈 was the most disappointing so far. There are 2 options oriental or wester style. The oriental version is a large bowl of sweet potato soup with half a salted egg and a small slice each of watermelon, guava and orange. The western versions 2 slices of white bread with a fried egg, a steamed sweet potato chunk and a slice of ham. There are also some self service condiments.
We started the day with going to a few photo points around Kenting like 船帆石, 鵝鑾鼻, 最南點, 龍磐草原, 出火 and 南灣戲水. The view was nice at all of these places. Except maybe 出火, which was to me nothing special, just a vent through which natural gas was leaking and therefore can be ignited. Someone went into the fenced area and was trying to barbecue.
Then we had a simple local meal that we just randomly stopped at because the famous 水饺 restaurant that the guide wanted to bring us had a long queue.
After this, it’s off to the long awaited beach for the kids. The whole purpose of coming to Kenting was to play the water activities so I tried them with my cousin. Basically there is a variety of floats or banana boats to choose from, which are all dragged by a jetski. One can also ride pillon on the jetski. We opted for 2 types of float then the jetski. The jetski was fine and fun but the floats feel very dangerous. It felt to me like experiencing whiplash in a car accident when the float bounced violently. Perhaps it would be safer from that perspective to be standing (which is an option for some floats) because the bent knees can absorb the pressure but it also is much more tiring (I tried, requesting the instructor to go gentler). The kids played on the beach and got really dark. But they had lots of fun.
Then it’s off to Kaohsiung. Sandra slept for the first half of the journey while Sophia is strangely alert even after the beach activities.
At Kaohsiung our first stop was to Dream Mall for dinner and supposedly some shopping but unfortunately the 1.5 hours allocated was only enough for eating. Thereafter we checked into 85大楼码头民宿 which was quite an interesting strata title type hotel building where different rooms are bought/rented (not sure which) by different minsu operators. The minsu is traditionally decorated and clean but nothing special in terms of interior fittings. What is great about it is the views of the harbour.
And so concludes the second third of our trip. 3 more days to go, mostly in Taipei.