A brief long weekend enabled me to travel back to my favorite destination – Taiwan. And this time, I thought I had enough of Taipei already so I decided to go to the nearest next big city – Taichung.
This was my first time in Taichung and I have learned that there is still no MRT running across the city. So I did my research and studied how the local bus system works. I found it to be fairly easy and efficient.
I rode the HSR (High Speed Rail) which only took an hour of travel from Taipei to Taichung. With a twist of good fortune, the weather turned to be sunny as the weather in Taipei is nastily wet and windy.
From HSR, I took a bus going to downtown Taichung and got down in front of SOGO which was just a few meters away to the Calligraphy Greenway – Taichung’s “Central Park”. The park is a long strip of parallel concrete pathways alternated with trees. Works of art, sculptures and fountains are planted on every interval. The weather was perfect for walking through this area at this time of morning. Locals and expats enjoy their time strolling and feeling in the freshness of the surroundings.
An hour of walking down south led me to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMOFA) which marks the southern boundary of Calligraphy Greenway. The museum grounds are dotted with various sculptures of interestingly shaped grotesque human-like figures. The museum is huge and the entrance is free. I was quite disappointed that there was only one exhibition at the moment. The other halls were being renovated at the moment.
I finished exploring NTMOFA quite early and decided to go back to HSR to take another bus going to my next destination which can only be visited in the afternoon. En-route along one of the bus stops, I saw a complex of colorful houses and lots of people taking pictures. Instinctively, I asked the bus to stop and guessed this must be the famous Rainbow Village.
Initially, I have crossed this out from my original itinerary because I thought I will have no time. They say the Rainbow Village came into existence when grandpa Huang decided one day to paint on his house with cartoon characters and later on painted the whole village. I’d say his artworks is more of a cross between Manga, Disney and Pablo Picasso. More of his story can be found here.
That was a brief excursion in Rainbow Village. I waited for a different bus which goes straight to Gaomei Wetlands. This bus only operates on weekends and originates from the nearby Ling Tung University. The bus passes thru the Rainbow Village, Xinwuri TRA station (beside HSR) and eventually going straight to Gaomei Wetlands.
It was a long quarter of an hour bus ride along the national highway, passing thru drab gray industrial areas and such while holding my bursting bladder. The view start to clear up and the bus stopped in front of Gaomei Wetland Visitor Center.
After I got down, I can already feel the salty air and the strong wind coming from the direction of the sea. Giant windmills with their propellers whirring against the wind are like sentinels, guarding over the quiet small town.
It was 3:30 in the afternoon, searing hot but I did not mind. I had the time of my life taking snapshots. The views leading to the waterfront platform are very scenic – postcard perfect, instagram worthy scenery.
Further on, there was a walkway platform jutting out towards the sea. This is only opened during low tide (~3pm to ~6pm). This is why I mentioned earlier that this place can only be visited during the afternoon. Lots of tourists congregated near the entrance – some with kids enjoying the crustaceans that had come out from their holes, while some already made their way on the platform going to the sea.
I joined the latter and the more I went on, I felt more people had started to join in. The wind was strong in this area, buzzing over my ears. People were holding onto themselves not to be blown away.
The sun was now setting low over the horizon and the images of people became silhouette like. The windmills are far in front of us, hovering over like infrastructures of a retro-futuristic movie in a far-fetched destination. It felt like walking in a strange pilgrimage – cult-like, surreal.
At the end of platform was the endless patch of soft black sand, stretched over the horizon. I did not dare go down because the sand was soft and I wore sneakers. I should have brought flip flops instead. The sun, the wind, the low tide, the windmills – this is a perfect romantic afternoon with myself and savoring every moment of it.
Capping it Up at Fengjia
After an hour of return bus trip to HSR station and taking another bus going to a different area in downtown Taichung (total of approximately 2 hours), I found myself now very hungry in Fengjia Night Market.
Just in time for dinner because according to blogs this is one of Taiwan’s biggest night markets and home to some local version of street food. Ironically, I ended up with chicken chops, which is everywhere in Taiwan, topped with honey mustard sauce. With it I bought a bubble milk tea from a random milk tea stand and turned out to be surprisingly tasty. The pearls are not too big and very chewy. Too bad I don’t have pictures to share as I was keen on dousing out my hunger.
As I was in the bus going back to HSR, it felt this was the longest day of my entire travelling life. Every moment was well spent and not every moment was a bore even when travelling solo. I daydreamed of other places to go in Taiwan with Taichung as my new base city and I’m so thrilled just thinking where my next travel would be.
This the exact order of itinerary that I did for this trip. You may not follow it as it is.
First thing – Download the Taichung Bus Timetable app available in Google Play. A
As for paying for the buses, it is more convenient to use the Easy Card which can be bought from Taoyuan Airport MRT, or any MRT Stations. More info about the Easy Card can be found here.
Taipei – Taichung
Take the HSR from Taipei Main Station, 6:30AM train. Travel time is 1 hr. One-way full fare is 700NTD. If you buy weeks prior to your travel date, you might get a 10%-20% discount like mine.
HSR – Calligraphy Greenway
Upon exiting HSR at Taichung Station. Follow the directions going to exits 5 and 6 which is located at the LG floor. When you reach LG, you can see two exit doors. The exit to the left is the platform going to Sun Moon Lake. Take the right exit which will take you to HSR shuttle buses going to the city.
Look for bus platform 13, Bus 159 (HSR –Taichung Park). The platform numbers are clearly marked, complete with all the illustrations of the bus stops. So it is hard to miss it.
Alight at stop number 8, which is in front of Sogo Department Store. Turn right to the alley right after the bus stop (Lane 283, Taizhonggang Rd) . This will take you to Zhongxing Street. Turn left across Taiwan Blvd if you wish to go to Taiwan National Museum of National Science, right if you wish to go south exploring the entire length of the park until your reach National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts – Rainbow Village
In front of NTMOFA, along Wuquan West Road is a bus stop. Take Bus 56 (Gancheng – Xinwuri Station) and alight at Rainbow Village. The journey takes around 20-30 minutes. This stop is hard to miss as the wild vermillion colored houses can easily be seen from the bus stop. The bus frequency is around 15-20 minutes.
Rainbow Village – Gaomei Wetlands
On the same bus stop take Bus 655 (Ling Tung University – Wuci Fishing Port) and alight at Gaomei Wetlands Visitor Center. The journey takes around 45 minutes to an hour. Take note that bus 655 only operates on weekends and public holidays. The bus interval is usually around 1.0 to 1.5 hours so be sure to plan your schedule ahead so as not to waste time just waiting for the bus. If you wish to go to on weekdays, you need to go to Qingshui Bus Terminal and from there take bus 178 or 179 going to Gaomei Wetlands.
Gaomei Wetlands – HSR
Take the same bus number at Gaomei Wetlands Visitor Center and alight at Xinwuri TRA Station. Enter Xinwuri TRA station and follow the directions leading to HSR station. Go to exits 5 and 6 to go to HSR shuttle bus platforms.
HSR – Fengjia Night Market
Take Bus 160 (HSR – Overseas China University) at Platform 12 and alight at stop no. 8 Fengjia University (near McDonalds). Take the same bus going back to HSR. Traffic going to Fengjia Night Market can be a bit jammed even on weekends. It will take around 40 minutes travelling from HSR to Fengjia.
Taichung to Taipei
Take the HSR back to Taipei Main Station. I took the 10:55PM train and arrived in Taipei almost midnight. Fortunately, the MRT is still running which took me back to my Airbnb host in Ximending.
Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have more question or inquiries.