I missed my HSR to Taichung that morning. My cousin and her boyfriend who were supposed to join me in Taiwan that day were also late as their flight was delayed by 3 hours. As a result, neither of us could make it at 8:00 AM to meet our driver who will drive us up to Cingjing.
Despite the mishaps, we still managed to cover these places on day two:
- Guanyin Waterfall and Bridge
- Old England Manor
- Green Green Grasslands
- Small Swiss Garden
- Ah Dong Chicken
The travel to Cingjing
Evidently neither the couple nor I could meet the driver on time. I called the driver (which my cousin booked prior to the trip) and he kindly agreed to pick us up at a later time.
If you miss your HSR ride like me, fret not. Just head over to the counter and let the staff assist you. The staff will stamp on your ticket and you will be told to get on any later train that heads for the stop. You will have to take any available seats in the cars with unreserved seating though.
As there are several train services that run within the same building, please make sure that you are queuing up at the correct counter. This picture above captures the TRA counters, not the HSR one!
It was 10-ish when we finally got into our ride.
My cousin did her research and hunted down Mr Lu to bring us around for two days. It was the standard yellow cabs which you will see in Taiwan, something like this:
The car was able to house 3 large luggage in the boot and 4 passengers. Mr Lu even prepared a bottle of mineral water for each of us in the car.
Mr Lu will drive us up to Cingjing, and on the second day, to Sun Moon Lake, Xinshe, and finally back to Taichung. This cost us about NT7000. I wouldn’t have considered this itinerary if I was alone since these locations are nearly inaccessible by public transport and hiring a driver is too expensive for a single person.
Midway stop at Guanyin waterfall and bridge
En route to Cingjing, we stopped by Guanyin Waterfall (观音瀑布) and the suspending bridge.
As you might tell, we could have given this a miss.
Well, Mr Lu did tell us that there was an even more magnificent waterfall 20 minutes up slope but…we were so not up to it.
Like a true city-bred Singaporean, we gasped at the rocks, streams and mountains afar.
Arriving at Cingjing
We then headed straight for Cingjing. It was about a 1.5 hours travel to Cingjing from the Taichung HSR station.
We kept a lookout for cherry blossoms and spotted a few along the roads. It was close to the end of the season so many of the blooms have wilted. But those which were still in bloom were breathtaking.
A double room at the Old England Manor will set you back by NT15000/night.
The standard rates for the homestays in Cingjing is about NT3000/night. And there are lots of choices; the mountain was littered with homestays. Our driver joked that there are about 200 minsus in Cingjing but probably less than 10 are registered. I might have gotten the numbers wrong, but yea, you get the gist of it.
Yes, those little houses in the background were almost all minsus.
The air was fresh and the views were gorgeous! I’m liking the place already.
I was famished so I asked for lunch. Mr Lu drove us to this hawker centre-like area.
Mr Lu drove us to enter from the highest point of Green Green Grasslands (青青草原／清境农场) so we could leisurely walk down the slope to view the place.
Wear a good pair of shoes because the area has quite a fair bit of steps and slopes; some looked like driftwood wedged haphazardly into the ground. Also, avoid wearing your swanky branded boots unless you want animals’ defecation all over the soles because there were –
Sheeps, sheeps everywhere.
The sheeps were let loose and visitors could buy food from a vending machine to feed them. Unfortunately for us, the feeds were all sold out.
It wasn’t only us who felt the disappointment. Here’s a sheep which was nibbling on the leftovers at the feed vending machine.
Even though we didn’t get a chance to bribe the sheeps, the cherry blossoms and mountain view easily made up for the ticket price.
There were horses too. But I think they were mainly there for performance purposes.
We also spotted a boy who kept the water flowing for a thirsty sheep.
On the way, we passed by this shop that sold honey products.
And the entrance was swarmed with bees.
Yes, those yellow dots were bees. But trust me, there were much much much more bees there than captured in the photo.
I am not too sure why anyone will walk in to purchase their products.
We continued walking down to the Small Swiss Garden (小瑞士花园). There wasn’t much to see, safe for some decorative windmills and more cherry blossoms. Or maybe we just didn’t walk the full length of the garden.
Fon Chin Homestay – Almost like a resort
We covered the main sights of Cingjing in about two hours and got to our minsu, Fon Chin Homestay (also called Julie’s Garden), a little before 3:00 PM. Realizing that we didn’t make any dinner plans, we asked Mr Lu if he could drive us out for dinner later on since there were no convenience store or restaurants nearby. Being the nice guy he was, he kindly obliged.
Fon Chin was an idyllic accommodation.
There were dreamy swings which overlooked the mountains.
It was also home to many animals, such as this friendly dog:
and Mr Goose:
We were upgraded to a huge family room which had 3 double beds with built-in heating. The heated beds were magical in warding off the cold at night.
As you can tell, the room was spacious.
Here’s the view from our patio, which was shared with just another room of guests.
Dinner at Ah Dong Chicken
After we bummed around for a couple of hours, Mr Lu came to get us for dinner. I don’t think we had a discussion on what to eat for dinner; Mr Lu was confident about his recommendation, which he had pointed out to us on the way up to Cingjing.
And boy, this Ah Dong Chicken (阿东窯仔鸡) was one of the best meals I had in Taiwan.
Here’s a portion of the food we ordered.
I will admit I wasn’t too impressed when I saw the chicken.
I mean, it looks just like any normal chicken right?
From the corner of my eyes, I spotted Mr Lu putting on cotton farm gloves and another layer of disposable gloves over. After he made sure we got all our photos, he promptly proceeded to attack the chicken…
Nah! Mr Lu was helping us to rip the chicken into smaller pieces.
It was an amazing display of dexterity.
He also recommended us to dip the chicken into a mixture of pepper and salt if we were not keen on the sauce provided. It was heavenly.
We also ordered:
- Stir-fried cabbage (炒高丽菜）
- Stir-fried sugarcane shoots （炒甘蔗筍)
- Caipo Egg （菜脯蛋)
- Golden Tofu （黄金豆腐）
With the exception of the shoots, everything else was awesome.
And though we evidently over-ordered, it was hardly surprising that all the dishes were almost wiped out.
After the super satisfying dinner, we could only return to Fon Chin as there were no other places we could hit at Cingjing at night.