I’m going to be in Xinzhu/Sinjhu/Hsinchu this weekend and will probably take the Neiwan train line. Anything else worth seeing in the area? (I’m limited to public transport and taxis.) How about the Hakka town Beipu?

For camping, stop at the Heng Shan station. Go across Hwy 120 towards the river about 1 km. On the river is a nice,small, wooden hotel with a swimming pool and very nice (flat, grassy) camping facilities.

I have been currently living Hsinchu for about 2 months. I cant really help you out because I havent really traveled the area. I do know though there is an amusement park somewhere in Hsinchu. There is also the Science Park, you could probably check that out. Hsinchu is below a mountain, therefore I am sure there are a few scenic areas, but I have no idea where they are. There isnt much in downtown Hsinchu, but it is one of the more lively places in Hsinchu. Sorry this isnt much help, but hopefully I gave you a general idea of the area. Keep asking around, im sure eventually someone will help you out a lot more.

There’s a foreign-language Caves Books opening there on Saturday. Spend more than NT$1,000 and you get a free shopping bag. :shock:

I haven’t been to Beipu yet, but it is definitely on my list of things to see the next time I head down that way.

Are you a tea drinker? Beipu is quite well known for the lei-cha they drink there. I guarantee it is completely different from any other kind of Taiwan tea! Give it a try. Make sure you order the DIY set and grind up all the stuff yourself. Taiwanese joke that the reason this tea is called lei-cha is because you get worn out just making it.

Beipu has some, if not the best, examples of sanheyuan housing in all Taiwan. Very plesant stroll thru a small town. Hillside city park is romantic.

Regarding downtown Hsinchu, readers will want to explore Ku Chi Fong, that 50 meter temple statue that overlooks the city. Within the grounds is a museum that is the envy of the Nat. Palace Museum. 6 to 8 buildings in a park setting. All privately owned with a low admission charge. Halfway between Science Park and downtown.

Hey what’s up with my last post? I didn’t type the word Xinzhu. Auto-inserted I gather. I love Hsinchu. The past year they have included Hanyu Pinyin on most every street sign in the city, if not the county. But they haven’t changed the city spelling. Notice as you navigate Hwy 1 even the MOI hasn’t dared to switch to the latest whims.
Think I’ll try the word Taipei, just to see if we’re different.

Shitoushan (Lion’s Head Mountain) is an interesting place on the border of Xinzhu and Miaoli counties. It doesn’t seem to be very well known although it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet. It is a small mountain with many Buddhist temples. To get there take a train to Zhunan and then there is a semi-regular bus service, sorry I can’t remember the exact details.

[added later] Here’s a link to a Taipei Times article about the Neiwan Railway: Going back in time by rail

Xinzhu was OK. Here are a few random notes.

The area around the train station was not bad, with the city obviously doing some work to improve the “canal” area. It’s coming along, and in a few years should be relatively nice.

The Neiwan train is worth taking, though the scenery isn’t particularly nice until toward the end of the line. Neiwan is not bad. It’s probably a lot like Jiufen and other tourist spots, crowded on weekends and quiet as can be the rest of the time. There are several nice looking restaurants on the far side of the river. A hostel among those would be great.

Taxis are few and far between in Xinzhu. If you ride in one, get a namecard, because you may need to call that number later to have a cab pick you up if you’re not in the main tourist part of town. There don’t seem to be a lot of buses, either.

Upon arriving at Guqifeng my wife and I found that it was closed – and had been for several months. That left pretty much only the big statue to look at; but it’s only open to visitors a few days of the year, we were told. We could have stayed to watch a couple people in trances cut themselves with axes and maces; but that’s not really our kind of thing. The neighborhood of the park seems to have shut down when the park did. It was like a ghost town, though the few residents we spotted told us that once the area had been filled with glassblowers’ stores that did good business.

There’s a glass museum in the park south of the train station. It’s not bad, but it lacks focus. Some of the pieces are excellent, others not so impressive. It seems more like a place that just opened than something that’s been there for several years already. On the positive side, it offers some classes and workshops. And the exhibition of works by Sunny Wang is worth seeing – and touching. The artist was there herself that day.

There’s a fairly large Confucius temple near the glass museum, but it was closed.

Service at the Caesar, particularly at its breakfast buffet, wasn’t up to the level of a four-star hotel. For example, upon being informed (in Mandarin) that many of the “clean” plates were in fact greasy and even dirty, a waitress simply replied “hunh” and walked away without so much as a bu haoyisi. :?