I expended almost all my energy the previous day and just wanted to sleep in for the day but the lure of cheap and good breakfast in Taiwan compelled me to get up for a meal.
It felt great mostly, walking down the streets alone in the morning.
Anyway, I made a beeline for Mcdonald’s. It’s almost like a custom to eat McD in every country I visit.
Breakfast was about NT100, almost 3 bucks cheaper than in Singapore. There wasn’t much difference except for a satisfying cup of hot chocolate (which is a shame that Singapore doesn’t have) and thicker, fluffier hashbrowns.
Locating the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan…
I went back to my homestay and bummed around till noon. Bad idea since I wanted to visit the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan which is in Nantou, at least an hour on bus.
Getting around Taichung is somewhat tricky, since Taichung doesn’t have a train system like Taipei and there’s a crazy number of bus stops with similar names. I used a journey planning website to plan my trips and got 921地震紀念公園 (921 Earthquake Memorial Park) and 921地震教育園區 (921 Earthquake Education Area) mixed up.
They are in completely different directions and I wasted about an hour.
But what’s a solo travel without getting lost…
Putting aside the self-comforting, you’ll want to take note:
The name of the stop at 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan is 921地震教育園區.
So after getting lost everywhere, I surmised that the most direct route from Fengjia to the museum is to get to Taichung station (臺中火車站) first, then get onto bus 50 from there.
It takes about 40 minutes to the station and another 50 to get to the museum. From Fengjia, just check out the boards at the stop to check which buses take you to the station.
Once you get to Taichung station, you will need to locate the stop to take bus 50. The bus stop at the station is a little tricky to locate so here are some photos to help.
You are looking for the bus stop opposite the station. Walk against the traffic until you see this.
And this is how it looks like directly opposite the bus stop:
The museum is at the last stop. I was the only on the bus towards the end of the journey so I chatted with the bus driver a bit. He told me that there were 5 zones in the museum and an hour (which was what I initially planned for) was insufficient.
He was really nice and told me that he would be making a return trip at 5:00 PM so I could meet him then. This was extremely reassuring because the museum was in a really isolated area and it would have been super distressing to find yourself stranded there.
And this is where the bus takes you. The museum is on the other side of the bridge.
So if the bus driver doesn’t offer, make sure to ask him for the timings of the return trip or at least check with him the timing of the last bus.
Inside the museum
A little about the place from their official website:
At 01:47AM on September 21, 1999, the central part of Taiwan was struck by an earthquake that registered 7.3 on the Richter Scale. The resultant loss of life and damage to property put it among the worst natural disasters of the past century in Taiwan. In the wake of the 921 disaster, the local government decided to preserve some of the phenomena related to the earthquake such as slips in the fault line, collapsed school structures, raised river beds and other selected locations, to serve as reminders for the public of the need to prepare for such disasters and to be ready to provide emergency rescue services.
The museum is built on the old site of Kwangfu Junior High, which was wrecked during the 921 disaster. The resulting architecture was an interesting one with the main building running across the tracks of the old school.
The museum preserved some of the wreckage which served as a haunting reminder of the tragedy.
There was a lot going on. The first three zones were mostly scientific displays which was a little too in-depth for me.
And the last two were pretty colourful and interactive, but clearly more suitable for families with children.
They even had mini games like this for children to participate.
In between, I went into their 3D theatre to catch a short 3D animated film. I thought it was a pretty good watch. There was a quake experience theatre to allow participants to experience a strong earthquake. I would have wanted a go at it but it was full for the rest of the day.
I finished the zones in about one plus hour and by then it was about 4:30 PM. Having only had breakfast before this, I was famished by then so I headed to the cafe in the museum.
The interior was absolutely adorable and I particularly like the unicycle high stools.
Everything was good until I saw the menu and its lacking selection. In the end, I got myself toast with chocolate syrup.
Which was so pathetic i wished i didn’t spot the cafe.
This was a ridiculous NT110! So my take on this: get some snacks from the convenience store before you head to the museum. Avoid eating there at all cost!
There was still a bit of time before the bus came so I walked around the area a bit more.
It was around sunset, so the views were gorgeous.
I think they kept part of the old school stadium which makes for a great dating spot (see couple in photo).
At 5:00 PM, I went back to the car park and hopped onto the same bus (intending) to head back. I eventually ended up in Yizhong Street (一中街). Here’s a visual summary of my visit, since I didn’t spend much time there:
Overall, the museum is pretty much worth the effort to visit but not exactly a must-see. It really takes quite long to get there so consider including the Guangfu village and maybe the Wufeng district and Dali area into your itinerary.
Yizhong street, on the hand, deserves a little more time if you haven’t been there before. Take note not to miss those small alleys full of great buys!
Next up: Day 5 in Park Lane by CMP
- In-depth walkthrough of the exhibits of the 921 Earthquake Museum by The Daily Bubble Tea
- Experience at the museum with short writeup of the quake experience theatre by Terryble Blog