Day 3 - Gaomei Wetlands

Day 3: The Attractions of Taichung’s City Fringe

Traveling to the Outer Tourist Attractions Of Taichung

A second day in a row, with the exact same MacDonald’s breakfast isn’t that cool at all. Breakfast options are pretty limited in this area therefore we got no other choice. And we needed to get our butts out of bed early, because today we are visiting the cooler tourist attractions of Taichung – Xinshe Castle, Lavender Cottage and Gaomei Wetlands!

We’ve hired a driver, Mr Lin, for the entire day. While planning for the trip, we read that for the most parts of Taichung, traveling with a hired driver would make more economical sense. So we found Mr Lin’s contact back while we were still in Singapore. (Reasonably priced at NT3500 for 9 hours, a friendly and helpful dude, if you need one, contact him at +8860937422855 through LINE). He was on the dot, and arrived to pick us up at our hotel at exactly 8 AM.

Xinshe Castle 新社古堡

Our first stop for the day is Xinshe Castle. It was about 45 mins away from the hotel, and we could catch a few winks while Mr Lin drove us there. We were probably like the first visitors. Ain’t like any of our usual Japanese castles, but alright let’s see what it’s got. The entrance was quite serene, with a beautiful walkway. Pretty exciting! And best of all no crowd.

However once we were in, it started to feel lacklustre compare to what we’ve seen online. Felt like a dated place, those Swiss looking brick cottages were old, the place was relatively unkempt. And what is worse, the huge-ass pond (supposedly the iconic photography spot of this attraction) was under maintenance. We’d imagine that our photos would be damn captivating if the big pond wasn’t dry.

This probably explains why there wasn’t anyone in this area. I honestly wouldn’t recommend this in your list of tourist attractions of Taichung. If you had spare time, yes. A small consolation was that our photos still look good, thanks to my Google Pixel 3. And her Canon G7 X Mark II.

百菇莊 Mushroom Farm

Mr. Lin told us that Xinshe is well known for their mushroom exports. En route to our next stop, we saw many similar mushroom farms. Probably viable due to the higher altitude and cooler weather up here. The one we visited had no other tourists as well, and Mr. Lin waited for us at the carpark while we explored the area.

The staff told us that there was an enclosure where we could literally go in and pluck mushrooms. Thereafter they’d weigh them and fry them for our consumption. Cool! We were excited cos we’ve never plucked mushrooms before. Apart from the usual brown button shrooms we commonly see, there were some pink ones, some yellow ones, some huge white ones. All of them edible surprisingly. We plucked whatever we could, but not too much in case we can’t finish them. There were lingzhi mushrooms too, but the staff said not to pluck those because it isn’t that tasty, and difficult to grow. It was fun plucking the mushrooms, but some of them were too tiny that the staff rejected them and said she couldn’t fry them. Oops we could have been more generous in our harvesting!

The Weirdest Flavored Ice Cream

Over at the cashier we say that the other menu items were all mushroom oriented. We bought some mushroom infused sausages to go with our harvest. But we weren’t that sure about the mushroom flavored ice cream on their menu. It was so intriguing yet dubious, but the adventurous us decided to give it a try.

And oh god no. The ice cream is a freaking bad idea, someone please call the food police. Please no. There’re even bits of mushroom in it. It’s kinda gross. We gave up and didn’t finish the mushroom ice cream. Weirdest stuff in all our travels. 0/10 will try again.

Lavender Cottage

Next up, Lavender Cottage. Finally, a place that looks beautiful, including their toilets! Everything was purplish, but unfortunately we came at the wrong season where there are no actual lavenders in bloom.

A quick search on the tourist attractions of Taichung would prompt you to this place. Everyone who comes to the Lavender Cottage will definitely visit The Dreamdancer’s Memory. It’s a quiet hut right smack in the middle of the area. Over here, you get to write your own postcard, design it with the craft materials that they have and send it out. You can even choose a specific date for it to be sent out. Worldwide.

And so we spent an hour or so writing a postcard for one another. All of the designs were just too pretty. We spent 15 minutes choosing a design, 15 minutes thinking of what to write, and 15 minutes laughing like idiots because it was awkwardly funny. And actually only about 5 minutes writing and decorating our cards. Too funny. We don’t know the contents of each others’ card, and we decided to let it post to us in December 2019. It had better arrive in Singapore in one piece!

Had a quick lunch at the restaurant. Literally quick because it’s kind of late already and we’ve still got 2 more places to go. We ordered a meal to share, waited 10 minutes for our food and gobbled it down in 5. The staff there must wondering what’s with these couple. Either starving for days, or maybe just weird.

Zhongshe Flower Market

Mr. Lin then drove us to Zhongshe flower market. We fell asleep on the way, a hot afternoon in a cosy ride. The disappointment is real when we woke up. Yet another dated tourist spot. To put things in perspective, if Xinshe Castle was considered dated, this place would be dated in bold, font size 72 with Maximum Impact font.

It’s like an old folk’s home, 90% elderly folks. And no we have nothing against the elderly, one day we’ll get there too. They too deserve their retirement. But god no, they were plain rude and rowdy. Only one breed of Asian tourists fall into the category of “rude and rowdy”, you know what I mean. What especially irritates us was that they would literally walk into your photo viewport knowing we are there taking photos too. And they’ll be absolutely fine with Minmin in their photos. On the other hand, we are totally not OK with them in our photos.

And so the photos you see online are all unreal. Can’t question the balding flowers, we’re probably in the wrong season. But generally the place doesn’t look well maintained. There were litter on the ground, plastic cups on the piano we took photos in. Everything just has a “meh” vibe to it. Luckily at some point, we managed to find a young couple to help us take nice pictures and get over and done with it. Once again, I would highly recommend you not to add this into your bucket list of tourist attractions of Taichung. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Gaomei Wetlands, One of the Best Tourist Attractions of Taichung

Our last stop for the day was Gaomei Wetlands. Basically everyone is here to catch a glimpse of the sunset against the horizon! It is said that we should arrive here early because it takes a while to walk out into the wetlands. We were damn lucky because the place Mr. Lin alighted us was where the Rainbow Village Iron Man happened to be at. He was there performing, singing and taking pictures for people. Not your normal kind of shots, they’re artistic instagram-worthy shots. Perfectly placed artsy shots. 叔叔有练过. We like it.

Back to the topic, regarding the area. There were so many people making their way out into the wetlands and we can’t seem to take nice pictures. We too, decided that we need to walk into the wetlands, away from the crowd. We took the risk of removing our shoes and just placing them at the edge of the boardwalk where everyone else’s shoes were. And made our way out into the water. Amazingly we walked so far out and by the time we did so, the sun was at a perfect level for our shots. Now this looks more like it, in our opinion one of the more worthy tourist attractions of Taichung. Priceless views!

And before the sun completely set, we quickly made our way back. Luckily our shoes were still there.

Fengjia Night Market After Exploring the Tourist Attractions Of Taichung

After a long day exploring the sights of Taichung, we had to satisfy our hungry little tummies. Mr. Lin dropped us at Fengjia Night Market. He was so nice, and didn’t charge us extra even though he has already spent around 10 hours with us (when it was supposedly 8). Thank you for driving us around!

The first dish was some angus beef skewers. Nothing very special about this, needed some protein. We went back to get our boiled clams from the same stall again! This time round we tried the black pepper flavored clams, and some grilled prawns. Nothing spectacular about the prawns but hell yeah, my dear readers. Seaside Cottage clams are what you have to eat when you are at Fengjia Night Market!

We were hunting for some famous grilled mochi stall but we couldn’t find it on Day 1. Coincidentally, we found the other part of Fengjia Night Market! It was really big. So basically there are 2 parts to this place, and we were only walking around the smaller section the other day. Good news. More food! Bad news. More walking!

Food, Food, and More Food at Fengjia Night Market

You cannot believe how hungry we were. We were like, “OK we need this”, “that looks good” and “this smells awesome let’s just try it”. First dish at our newly discovered section was some scallop-onion-prawns. Quite literally, it’s good. Next up, we found the grilled mochi that we had been looking for. Indeed this was the one and only stall selling this.

Saw people queuing for Pepper Cakes (胡椒饼). Unsure of what it was, we gave it a shot nevertheless. On the contrary, it wasn’t pepperish, instead it was some meat pastry. Absolutely tasty, surprisingly!

Next, we went into random shop and ordered the famed braised pork rice and oyster omelette. Though the food didn’t look very photogenic nor hygienic, it tasted delicious. Especially the oyster omelette, which is just different from the version we have in Singapore. Can’t believe after so much eating we weren’t completely satisfied. Got us some prawn cakes. And a cup of papaya milk to quench down the thirst.

Lots of sightseeing, walking, and eating. Energy level is at all time low, instead of walking back to our hotel, we actually cabbed back. What a fulfilling day indeed!