As mentioned above, the Institute’s “Conservation Education Center” is a good place to visit. The phone number is:
049 761 331
It may soon be an even better place because, according to the website, they’re making an “Ecology Education Park” behind the center;
“To meet conservation research needs TESRI is laying out an Ecology Education Park consisting of 3.5 hectare site behlind the Institute’s headquarters. The park is divided into nine areas: an autumn color area, an economic plants area, a pond ecology area, a river ecology area, a grassland ecology area, a bee plants area, a grassy marshland ecology area, an evergreen broad-leaved forest area and an artificially-planted woodland and acclimation area. Thus the park will demonstrate three ecosystem types: forest, grassland and wetland. Once completed, the park will not only serve the needs of the Institute’s own staff for research into habitat improvement and management, but will also support the work of the Institute’s Education Center by providing an outloor ecology education site for the general public, students and schoolchildren.”
Joe, have you been back to Jiji? My wife and I were there two weeks ago and this time we did rent bikes. Around the train station it’s horrible on a weekend, mouth-breathers as Sandman calls them, everywhere. And they rent out those stupid mini-scooters. Loud and obnoxious.
Anyway, there is now a 10 kilometre marked bike path. Takes you past the species centre, the Mingxin academy, a sie route to a Qing Dynasty stone inscription, a waterfall, old tree, along a stretch of river, past a kiln, pst the weir, and then back into town. About half is fabulous. Really scenic. And once you get past the train station a kilometre or two the tourists really drop of. Of course as I wrote before you can ride around the town and out to the weir or green tunnel for more biking. If you can go on a winter weekend or a weekday you’ll have the place to yourself.
Around the kiln there is an amusement park of sorts. I saw a couple trampolines where you are attched to protective slings so you can really flip around. Didn’t have time to try but I might next time. The crowds are annoying when you’re on a bike but you pass this area quickly.
They are building an “old street” just up from the train station. Hopefully this will draw the crowds away from the station area. Kind of strange to watch them erect facades and columns in front of every shop. Still, it looks like the end result will be a lot nicer looking than now.
There’s a big swimming pool in Jiji a few blocks up from the station. It’s supposed to be fed with mountain spring water.
MM, I haven’t been back to Jiji recently but hoping to spend a few days around there soon, possibly staying at those stilt huts you mentioned on another thread (Do you happen to know whether they are they run by the snake kiln outfit or somebody else?)
Thanks for the tips on the bike path – sounds very nice particularly if done reasonably early in the morning before it gets too hot.
Hoping to go for a motorbike ride up the Provincial Highway 21 to Tatajia and have a look at Yushan. Maybe I’ll also check out the road heading east from Shuili, the no. 16 going to Dansi Waterfall, Puoluoshajinshan and Danye Farm. Looks pretty quiet and scenic from the map. Have you ever been up that way?
On your way up to Yushan, you might want to have a look at some of the major logging roads that run east from 21. Danda, Junda, and Renlun logging roads will take you out into some really remote places.
[quote=“ironlady”]OK, pathetic question after being in Taiwan for 10 years (working, working, working): how would one get to Jiji from Taipei?[/quote][quote=“Feiren”]Bus (from Chengde Rd.) or train to Taichung (Taizhong) and then train to Jiji. Bus will probably be faster.[/quote]Jvnlong and Feigou buses can both be OK and the seats are comfy. The guoguanghao buses have improved a lot though and are cheaper. I’ve never taken the train to Taipei and don’t know about that.
Jiji’s on a branch line and going on the train there is one of the attractions. The branch starts at Ershui. I can’t find exactly where Ershui is right now: probably somewhere in Changhua county. So it would probably be quicker and easier overall to get a train from Taipei as far as Ershui.
The TRA timetable site’s here: 22.214.171.124/
or for people such as me who need the English version: 126.96.36.199/english/
Thanks for the tips on logging roads: will certainly try to have a look around there. How is the main no. 21 road? Is it usually open? My outdated and inaccurate map shows the 21 continuing south of Tatajia as far as the start of the South Cross-Island Highway, although a dashed section in the middle implies that it’s still under construction. Do you know anything about that?
Ironlady, usually you would take a train to Ershui (past Changhua) and then switch (on the same platform) to the Jiji line. If you go to the train website you can get the times that trains leave Ershui. There are about 8 a day I think. Be warned it will be very busy this time of year on the weekends.
As I said earlier, the bike route in Ershui is nice and there is a really pleasant walk up to Shoutian Ridge. There is also a monkey conservation area.
Joe, yes I believe the houses on stilts are run by the Snake Kiln.
Climbing Great Jiji mountain is fun. But it’s pretty hard to find the trailhead, or rather the side road that leads to the trailhead. If you’re interested send me a PM.
The 16 route you are talking about, where does it end? I’m in Canada now and don’t have any maps. I think though that I drove a few kilometres up it last time I was in Shuili. Does the route follow the river? If so it looked like a great drive. Really quiet and scenic.
If you can read Chinese there is a good brochure about the Baguashan National Scenic Area, which is the area basically south of Baguashan to Jiji. I drove it last year but they were doing a lot of work to the roads and area. Got lost a few times. Seems like they are building bike paths and campgrounds, though. Nice drive down.
By the way the Ming Xin academy is pretty nice. And the new school beside it is really attractive. Something to be said for earthquakes.
My own cunning plan is to take about 5 days, maybe around Dragon Boat Festival, then do the mountain road exploring at the weekend, saving the more touristy things for Monday and Tuesday when the area should with any luck be a lot quieter.
[quote=“Mucha (Muzha) Man”]The 16 route you are talking about, where does it end? I’m in Canada now and don’t have any maps. I think though that I drove a few kilometres up it last time I was in Shuili. Does the route follow the river? If so it looked like a great drive. Really quiet and scenic. [/quote]I think that must be it. The river’s quite wide at the start of the road but soon narrows.
It doesn’t really go anywhere according to my map. There’s the Dansi waterfall, the Danye farm and the road goes right close to the mountain – Puoluoshajinshan (2374m) but it looks remote enough that it can’t really be a major tourist destination and I think it could be worth having a look.
Didn’t manage to take the 5 days off but anyway went to Shuili for the day, a couple of weeks ago. Took the train from Taichung – changed at Ershui but there are a few direct trains every day so if you plan well you could catch one of those. The train ride is very nice and it certainly made a relaxing change from the motorbike. Took a taxi up to the Snake Kiln – 150NT (walked on the way back; about 20 mins but no sidewalk and lots of big, noisy trucks coming too close for comfort).
The Snake Kiln complex was very quiet – it was a Wednesday. Nice place – didn’t do any pottery but saw some people doing it. Some interesting museum-type information, nice ceramic-work gallery, reasonably-priced gift shop. Outside the gates there are various little food and trinket stalls, cafes and small restaurants.
I think there are a couple of types of places to stay in the Snake Kiln area. There are some wooden cabins fairly near the kiln but didn’t look at those. The huts on stilts that MM mentioned are a bit further down the hill, closer to the road turn-off. There’s a big long flight of stairs leading up to the place with the huts. There were also some supposed Mongolian yurts, bigger than the huts. Actually they were just cabins. The yurts might be alright but I’d only stay in one of the stilt huts for one night – they’re fairly small, potentially noisy and there’s a separate toilet/shower block. I feel that for the same money or a little more there must be some minsu (homestays/guesthouses) around which could be more comfortable.
Back in town, visited the Yushan National Park headquarters – a big white building a little way down the river. Some interesting exhibitions of photos, wildlife and aboriginal dwelling dioramas. Gift shop/cafe with good prices – 180NT for a T-shirt, 200 for a photographic poster. Cafe is a little spartan but has a nice view of the river.
Not sure how long that view will last, though. There were some billboards by the riverbank showing plans for a big waterpark.
Lots of interesting places near Shuili to explore. In addition to the places MM, AJ and others have mentioned, there’s Luku, a tea-growing area, as well as the road to Dongpu/Yushan and that interesting route no.16, frustratingly just off the borders of my new 2000NT map.
[quote=“almas john”]“Traveling in Taiwan” generally means escaping the cities for the mountains or coast. Are there any towns worth visiting? Do any cities here - other than Taipei and Tainan - offer a distinctive flavour and enough attractions to make an overnight visit worthwhile. I find most towns and cities rather dull and featureless. Even somewhere like Lukang, which is touted as a historical city, could - except for a few pockets - pass for any other place in Taiwan.
I’m reminded of a great quote from Michael Turton’s web site “Teaching English in Taiwan.”[b]
I go with some Chinese friends about once a month out into the mountains and stay at a 民宿 guest house - all kinds of great one’s but you’ve got to do you’re research first some are really nice and quiet others are tacky and full of droves of loud people.
My friends have never steered me wrong though - I’ve been to some great places in Miao-li - Guan-Wu - Nan Zhuang - Xi Tou - Nan tou etc.
He Huan San is totally over-run and built up but if you go during the week its pretty nice
Can you list some details, especially the names and addresses of good guesthouses or hotels? Too many places to stay in Taiwan are the same old same old, so it’s always a treat to hear about the special ones.
Please don’t be stingy with your knowledge. The only way good places stay in business is through customers. A few extra bignoses are not going to spoil the atmosphere.
Just got back from a great 5 day trip to this area. CheCheng or 車埕 (last stop on train line) is undergoing some significant additions to its tourist infrastructure. Including a logging musuem due to be completed next year. There’s also a small lake in town with a japanese style pavilion where you can just sit and admire the view, read, or whatever. And a tea house next to the lake that is also less than a year old. And there’s a plum wine producer in town with a tasting room with 2 nice gals who say that you can drink as much as you want on premise for free, although i did not test their patience. Also took a bus from shui li (also on this train line) to sun moon lake (30-40min ride) where there are many new walking paths around the lake and you can rent bicycles or electrical bicycles (no, not the common scooters). There’s another bus from shui li that takes you to tung pu (東埔) (1 hour) which has very nice hot springs. I went to one called 沙里仙溫泉度假農場 (www.salisam.com.tw) with both shared sex and single sex (where you can go in the buff) communal pools. The male only pool in particular was fantastic - perched on the edge of a cliff with a river below you and mountains across the ravine, best hot spring i’ve been to in taiwan. Tung Pu is also the start of the Ba Tong Guan hiking path that takes you eventually to Yu Shan. You can hike at least the first 2-3 hours without a permit (to 雲龍 waterfall).
Has anyone been to Ping Lin? I’m a tea buff and the, um, “world’s largest tea museum” (Lonely Planet pg. 148) sounds interesting, if it’s true and not just a big store. Also I think Ping Lin hosts some big annual tea festival in April and I wondered if someone had information on that. Thanks!
No, it’s not a store, though there is a gift shop in the museum. It’s mostly diorama’s and displays of instruments and machines for processing tea but if you can get an English tour (call ahead) you will learn a fair amount. The tea gardens and tea house are nice.
The main reason to go to Pinglin is to see the tea fields and mountains and hike or bike through them. Pinglin is a really beautiful area and the bike path takes your through some wonderful countryside. At the very end, the river is fresh and clean for swimming in.
I will probably take the hiking club out there one coming week. You are welcome to join us.
If you like tea you should check out my thread on the teahouses in Maokong (the area of mountains behind the zoo). There’s also a tea display centre up there for learning more about tea. I go hiking up there all the time. If you are interested send a pm.
Beipu, Miaoli County (?)
Beipu is in Hsin-Chu (Xinzhu) County (Hakka territory). Not quite Miaoli, but almost there.
How come no one mentioned Tai-Chung?[/quote]
I recently visited BeiPu and loved the 100 NT per person experience of grinding/pouding your own Lei Cha 擂茶 – I found Orange Garden to be a particularly cute tea house with great service. The entire experience takes at least an hour and a half; if you’re short on time you can just fork over the 100 NT and have pre-ground tea served, with Hakka small eats, and mochi. Still worth it, but not as fun.
I’ve been to Taichung a bunch of times to see family, and I forget which little town just outside of it has a fun new Indigo/plant dyes DIY thing… but what else does Taichung offer?