Travel with me #114 : The hidden gems of Taichung, Taiwan!
Dear Steemit Friends:
Far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, the farm was originally established in February 1961 as a place for retired soldiers to settle down with their families, giving them land, homes and a sense of purpose.
We have such an adventure to go on together today full of sights, flavours, hotels, more flavours and amazing architecture. We will be exploring Qingjjing Farm and some of the cultural and culinary offerings of Taichung City in central and western Taiwan.
The first stop I take on my travels today is Qingjjing Farm, located in the mountains very much in the centre of the country. This central region of Taiwan is green and beautiful, with soaring mountains and the peace and tranquillity of solitude. Far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, the farm was originally established in February 1961 as a place for retired soldiers to settle down with their families, giving them land, homes and a sense of purpose.
Located in the small township of Ren'ai in Nantou County, Qingjjing Farm is a thriving tourist attraction for those who want to see a working farm set in beautiful surroundings. Attractions include sheep farming, cattle farming, tea and kiwi fruit growing, sheep sheering shows, horse riding shows and many beautiful gardens to explore. The easiest way to get to Ren'ai Township is from Taichung by taking a tour, though the journey through the mountains to reach the farm is quite long! It really is in the middle of nowhere.
Qingjjing Farm in the misty mountains
The farm is located in the most beautiful scenery. Mountains like you've never seen before. Greenery and soaring peaks that take your breathe away. I was so excited to see the beauty in which Qingjjing was located... But then the mist! I had seen such beautiful imagery in my customary research that I do before all my expeditions and travellings, but today was not my lucky day! When I arrived at the farm, I was well and truly in the mist and clouds of the mountains - I couldn't see a thing.
Not to be put off, I got straight out into the 'Mountain Path' that runs around the beautiful areas of the farm, determined that I might see a view through some parting clouds. I don't know if you've ever been in heavy mist and clouds, but it makes all of the sounds very quiet because it stops noise travelling very far. It was quite eerie walking through the mountain pathways and the sound completely deadened around me. I felt completely alone with my thoughts and somehow that felt more special than the view - at least that's what I thought, I had no view to compare it to!
My walk was, non the less, very enjoyable with lots of little farm-yard style sculptures scattered around for visitors to enjoy. There was plenty of sign posts guiding you around the huge farm which was lucky because it would be easy to get lost in the mist! You can also see how many attractions there are to see here which are really suited to those who spend most of their life in cities and want to get a taste of rural life and farming.
It's funny because I had read that Qingjjing Farm was also known as 'Foggy Eden' but I thought, it can't be that foggy! Well let me tell you, Steemit Friends, it really is! In fact, the sunlight beautifully played off the fogs and mists and clouds throughout the day, sometimes streaming shafts of light down on the different attractions of the farm. Very beautiful!
Qingjjing Farm is still an important working farm for the local community. They do make money from tourism but they also still make much of their income from the sale of different animal and agricultural products. There are extensive areas within the farm to learn about the different animals that area farmed here, such as cattle and sheep. I must admit, there were so many and I had so little time that I spent too much time just enjoying the animals and didn't get any good photos!
It was fascinating seeing how a true farm works and the different ways they farms the different animals and other products that they produce. If you want to learn more about being a farmer, out in the country, this is the place to come. I had a really lovely time on the farm and I loved just being 'in the countryside'.
This is a Chiang Kai-shek statue, which can be found all over Taiwan. They are statues of the late President of China, Chiang Kai-shek and can be found in many areas of the country. They have been subject to some controversy, with pro-Taiwanese government initiatives removing many of the statues which led to protests because many people claim that they are still important historical and cultural artefacts.
This one was particularly impressive and I can see why many people might be sad to see them removed and destroyed. There have been some negotiations which have led to many of the statues being located in memorial gardens as a happy compromise. In the mist, with the stairs leading up to it, this was a very mystical place!
Exploring the woods and of course, making new animal friends, I fell in love with this place. I'm sure the views would have been grand and spectacular, and I'm sure I would have had my breath take away by the size and beauty of the landscape around me, if the mist had allowed me to see it. But none the less, I fell in love with Qingjjing farm for its solitude and under-stated beauty. The sort of beauty you can only see if you take the time to just 'be' in a place and experience the feel of the place.
The mist, fog and cloud made you feel like you were in a little half bubble, with the world around you being blocked out and forgotten. Farming here would be a simple life, but one I think I could enjoy for a time. There's space for your thoughts and for reflection that you just can't get with the hustle and bustle of a city, I loved it!
Lunch in a quiet local restaurant
By the time I had fully explored the farm, it was getting quite late in the day and I still needed to get back to Taichung City, about an hour and a half drive away, so I knew it was time to get a bit of food before making the long journey back. In the township of Ren'ai I found this lovely little local restaurant that had an array of beautiful food on offer and I knew this would be a great spot to grab a late lunch.
The wonderful thing about just discovering a restaurant that you've not planned nor heard of is that you're often in for a surprise. I have to admit, sometimes (but rarely, luckily) the surprise isn't what you want, but in this case it really was what I wanted! The food was absolutely amazing, served extremely freshly and with a wide range of dishes to choose from, this was exactly what I needed after a long morning walking around in the fresh air of the farm.
There were so many options that I had to just try a few! I got myself some stir fried hot green vegetables, sweet potato leaves, mixed bean sprouts, a poached egg/omelette dish and a tofu with preserved egg dish. They were all absolutely amazing, really beautifully served and it was so good to sit down and have such a feast because I was starving!
Treeart Hotel: arty and modern in central Taichung
Treeart Hotel has got loads of quirky little modern design features located all around the lobby and corridors and its 42 rooms are clean, modern and beautifully appointed.
After a long bus ride, I finally arrived in Taichung, fully ready to check into my hotel for the night and relax after a long day's travel and exploration. Treeart Hotel was to be my hotel for the night and it is a really funky, located right in the middle of Taichung City in the Xitun district. It's got loads of quirky little modern design features located all around the lobby and corridors and its 42 rooms are clean, modern and beautifully appointed.
Upon arrival at the hotel, you're struck by two things. The first is the amazing architecture on the front of the building, beautifully lit up, making an amazing statement onto the Taichung skyline. The next thing you notice is these two wonderful bear sculptures that greet you and welcome you into the hotel!
As you can see here, Treeart Hotel has spared no expense when it comes to the decor inside. Everywhere you look from the dancing lights of the artificial fire, to the light installations in the ceiling, the interior design is completely beautiful. Both modern and minimalist, your eyes are drawn to the focal points of each room with clever use of light and texture.
I think the reception team who were helping me check in were quite amused by the fact that I couldn't stop staring around me as they were trying to tell me about my room and where all of the amenities were in the hotel. What beautiful design. Showing off the fact that it is newly built, every part of the decoration, furniture and sculptures were immaculate.
A breakfast feast in the rooftop restaurant
Well this was a real treat to find when I got up in the morning at Treeart Hotel for breakfast. Directed to the top floor by the hotel staff for my breakfast, I walked out of the elevator to find this stunning restaurant. Hugely bright and airy, full of colour, I felt woken up and energised as soon as I stepped into the beautiful room for my breakfast. I felt like I could almost be outside, dining alfresco! If the breakfast was going to be anything like the setting I was in for a real treat.
And I really was in for a treat! As you can see, I went for a bit of everything and was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of local dishes to try. Often in modern hotels, the breakfast has become quite westernised usually opting for a more continental style breakfast. That's often a safe option so I was really excited to try out some local foods for my breakfasts and try some of the very crazy and interesting options that seemed unique to Treeart Hotel too!
First I tried the miso soup with pork belly on top, which was delicate and refreshing, just what I needed after my long day the day before. Of course I got myself some fruit for some sweetness and then things got a bit weird! Served in a car I had smoked chicken in a muffin with a side of fried crab claw (top right) which was absolutely amazing; non traditional all around! I also had these crazy coloured breads on the side - one of them was blue!
Luce Memorial Chapel at Taichung University
I wanted to visit the famous Luce Memorial Chapel at the university so I went down to the lobby of the reception to find out the best way to get there. And they told me, 'by bike!'. I said, 'I don't have a bike though so how will I get there?' Well, turns out that Treeart Hotel is dedicated to the environment as well, with free bikes for you to borrow while staying with them! I was so excited to be able to cycle through the city, just about 15 minutes, to see the chapel. What a great, green way to get around.
Luce Memorial Chapel is a Christian church located on the campus of Tunghai University, the city's main university. The construction of the of the chapel was finished in 1963 and is the work of the famous architect, I. M. Pei who also helped design and develop the campus for the university as a whole.
Located right in the middle of the campus, it is actually a hexagonal shape at its base, then rising up to create a kind of tent shape at the top. Named in honour of Reverend Henry Luce who was an American missionary to China in the 19th century. Rev. Luce became a vicar in 1897 and was sent as a missionary to China where he spend 31 years spreading Christianity.
Tunghai University was first established by Christian missionaries in 1955 and is the second oldest university in Taiwan. As you can see from the logo of the university there is a Christian cross in it and the three interior circles are meant to represent the holy trinity. Located in the Xitun District of Taichung the campus is centrally located within the city but still provides a beautiful green sanctuary for students to come and study.
Thank you for exploring more of Taiwan with me today my Steemit Friends. Qingjjing Farm was truly a very special place to visit and I am so happy that I made the journey from Taichung City to visit, even if the views weren't quite what I'd hoped. I still loved learning about rural life and how the veterans have been farming and settling that wild, beautiful and foggy land. The Luce Memorial Chapel at Taichung's university was a marvel and I really enjoyed exploring it so much - I definitely needed the cycle ride to it and the walk around it to burn off the huge breakfast that I had at the Treeart Hotel.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you did, please do leave a comment and let me know which bit you liked most. If you want to see more than give me a follow (if you haven't already of course) because I post blogs quite regularly about my adventures and I would love to have you a long with me on more of my travels!
这个可爱的小车车其实是儿童餐，但是经不住造型酷炫的诱惑，我还是从大人餐换到了儿童餐= =这道装在黄色跑车里的是胡麻熏鸡玛芬堡和奶油蟹爪，使用了蜂蜜芥末酱和胡麻酱作为调合，搭配奶油蟹爪和红豆羊羹，不仅口感丰富，一盘下肚让新的一天充满能量和活力。盘子里西瓜样式的面包作为小食，绝对增添了用餐情趣。信州白味增猪腩清汤， 多肉清香，且带着味增咸香，而另一碗金针剥皮辣椒鸡汤，则选择了有机金针花入菜，整碗满满肉汁和金针香气，回味无穷。一顿幸福的早餐过后，我来到了东海大学，这是一所基督教新教背景的综合大学，是台湾非改制升格设立且现存的第一所私立大学，校园面积广达135.65公顷，其中最有名也是最为时尚文艺的拍照圣地，当数这座建筑造型独特的路思义教堂了。它是一座基督新教礼拜堂，是台湾著名的建筑大师陈其宽和美国华裔建筑师贝聿铭的共同之作。如今这座教堂已经成为了东海大学的标志，连游客们都会特意前往校园，驻足欣赏这座融合了美学与文化内涵的惊艳艺术作品。三角形外观看似简洁，却又十分庄严，教堂双曲面的搭接，使得每一个角度都会呈现出不同的视觉感受，而所有流线型逐渐汇聚形成“向天”的意象，宛若祷告的双手，为莘莘学子们祈福。多么充满诗意又动人的建筑艺术作品，充满了人文关怀，鲜明的黄色外砖搭配一大片绿地，也给了我美轮美奂的视觉享受。今天的台中美食美景探索之旅就要告于段落啦，之后还有更多惊喜的旅程再等着我们。
My video is at DLive