Last weekend we went to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, central Taiwan for Lantern Festival, and also an early Valentine’s Day. It was me, Maggie, Emily, Bonita, Ilona, Stephanie, Roy, and Cherry. We rented a van and Bonita drove.
We didn’t get off to a very auspicious start. For some reason, someone had gotten the idea that we were to take Highway 2 down there. So we drove south across Taipei and got on Highway 3 and then transferred to Highway 2. I was in the back reading the newspaper, so I wasn’t really paying attention to the discussion about all this. About an hour in to the drive I look up and say, “Uh, why are we driving to the airport?” Highway 2 is the east west highway connecting Taipei to the international airport. Essentially we’d made a nearly 3/4 circuit driving around Taipei.
After a lot of arguing, and calling the hotel, we found out we were supposed to take Highway 3. I think the confusion might have been because Highway 3 is also called the second north-south freeway (second after Highway 1). It also didn’t help that the only map we had was a 10 year old tourist guide with a two page map of all of Taiwan that didn’t even have Highway 3 on it cause it didn’t exist back then. Not that a two page map had enough detail anyways.
At this point we were well west of Highway 3, and even west of Highway 1 before we turned around, so I suggested taking Highway 1 instead. Much discussion ensued and eventually we took Highway 1 south. Everyone was a bit frazzled so far so we stopped at the Zhongli rest area to take a break. Shortly after we arrive, a blue truck backed into our van and took out the right tail lights. To make a long story a bit less long, this added quite a bit to our rest stop, and while all this was going on, I decided to see if I could get a better map. Inside the rest stop the store had a wide variety of map books available. I picked the thickest largest Taiwan map book that had 2006 printed on the cover.
Back in the van I deciphered the maps to find that Highway 3 crosses Highway 1 just south of Xinzhu. We decided to stop at Xinzhu for lunch which we had at a market next to a big temple in the central downtown area. Back on the road, things proceeded more smoothly, much to our relief. With a good map in tow, we made it onto Highway 3 all the way to Cantun near Taizhong were we headed east on road 14 and then south on road 21 to finally make it to our hotel just past dark. (Road 14 has some HOT betel nut babes.) We stayed at Lingo’s Resort which is located on the south side of the lake in Sun Moon Lake Village. Emily took the opportunity to get car sick less than 1km from our destination.
We had a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant and walked around the village a bit. Emily had gotten a Corn and Butterflies lantern in Xinzhu which had a light inside the corn and the butterflies which moved up and down while a song played. She had been playing with it so much that the cheap batteries it came with had crapped out, so I went to help her buy new ones. The rest of the crew decided to get some ice cream to eat with some strawberries we’d bought at a roadside stand on the drive in. We took that all back to a pontoon cafe over the water attached to the hotel.
The next day we had breakfast at the hotel, then went over to the village where Maggie, Emily and I rented a row boat for an hour. I was expecting that rowing would make my arms sore. My arms were fine, it was my hips that got sore. Funny how different muscles get used for different activities in surprising ways. I also got three blisters on my hand, though they are almost healed up by now. We ate some snacks including some wonderful wild boar sausages and fresh squeezed orange juice slushies.
After that we drove around the lake, stopping at a large temple on the east shore, then proceeding to the main town on the north shore where we stopped at The LaLu, the top hotel at Sun Moon Lake, where rooms start at US$500 per night. We were only there for the Tea Time buffet though, which was about $15/person and was quite delightful with a selection of western, chinese and japanese selections as well as a very nice dessert table. Emily played around and made a lot of friends.
It was getting late so we got back on the road to Taipei. This time the trip went smoothly and we only stopped once at a rest stop briefly. Emily started complaining that her stomach hurt as we got close to home, but we managed to make it there before she lost it again. Got back home again at about 9pm.
On Tuesday, Maggie, Emily, Bonita and Ilona headed out to Thailand early in the morning. I couldn’t go because of the new business stuff (reviewing the renovation plans and signing a new lease and various other stuff). They are in Pattaya the first 3 days, then 3 days in Bangkok.