Day 14: Sun Moon Lake, Lukang, Zhubei – 9.4.2015
After a typical Taiwanese breakfast at the Skylight B & B in Ita Thao Village at the Sun Moon Lake, we had to check out and took the “Lake Tour Bus” at 8.50 a.m. to the Shueishe Visitor Center. We wanted to take the 9.40 a.m.-bus to the Taichung High-Speed Rail Station but even got an earlier one at 9.15 a.m.
Our plan for the day was to travel from the Sun Moon Lake via Taichung to Zhubei City, but we wanted to make a side day trip to Lukang. Lukang offers many ancient temples and also the famous Lukang Old Street. It seemed to be an excellent opportunity, given that there´s a Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus from the Taichung High-Speed Rail Station to Lukang. This “Lu Kang Route” offers several buses a day and is basically a hop on-hop off service.
To start our trip at the Taichung High-Speed Rail Station, we first had to get rid of our luggage. There were lockers at the station, but they were all occupied. So we walked to the connected Xinwuri Train Station, where we could store our stuff. Back at the High-Speed Rail Station, we walked down to exit 5 and there to the bus stop 5, where we soon could board the Tourist Shuttle Bus to Lukang.
We even wanted to go to Changhua to visit the Bagua Mountain Scenic Area, but as the Tourist Shuttle didn´t show the name of the bus stop for this (Cultural Affairs Bureau/Mt. Bagua Great Buddha Scenic Area) on its electronic display, we missed the bus stop. We later found out, that the announcement in the bus “Traffic Police” seems to be the stop for the scenic area instead. It was no problem, however – visiting Lukang was our primary plan. We at least got the Lukang bus stop right and exited the bus at the Lukang Southern District Visitor Information Center-Bus Stop.
From the bus stop, we started our own walking tour through Lukang and began by visiting the 1827-built Wenkai Academy. It is a rather large complex with some beautiful buildings, surrounded by a garden.
From the Wenkai Academy, we wanted to walk to the Lukang Longshan Temple but took a wrong street first and came by accident to another beautiful temple.
We walked further to the Lukang Longshan Temple, a rather serene place with beautiful ornaments.
After taking our time at the Longshan Temple, we walked further northwards, came along the small Fengshan Temple and were surprised by some kind of ceremony. It was some kind of parade and some people, all dressed up in white, walked from business to business, where they were awaited and given food. It looked as if the white-dressed people blessed the stores in return.
When the ceremony proceeded, we walked towards the Nine-Turns-Lane. Opposite the entrance to the lane was an interesting building, that however looked out of place there. We followed the alley through old Taiwanese houses and came out at the Minzu Road, where we walked further north and had a drinking break.
From there it didn’t take long to reach the Lukang Old Street. We followed it, came along many shops and also the Sinzu Temple and then turned east into the Minsheng Road. This street was filled with street food, and I nearly bought octopus on a stick, while my friend purchased a variety of bread (hoping there’s no octopus in it). It was busy, but there’s much to see and taste…
When we came to the crossing from the Minsheng Road and the Zhongshan Road we could already see the massive Tianhou Temple, built in 1725. It was the last Temple we visited in Lukang, but certainly not the least interesting.
We walked back southwards to the Lukang Old Street Bus Stop of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Lukang Route. On the walk there we stopped at another bakery, and one friendly English speaking Taiwanese woman insisted I should try a bun with meatball – I loved it. We have it also in the Philippines, and we call it siopao. Soon the bus took us back to the Taichung High-Speed Rail Station.
At the High-Speed Rail Station, we took our luggage from the lockers and bought a ticket at the machine, which had English speaking service. A train was just arriving, and so we hurried to the track and nearly entered the wrong train. We had taken the wrong gate and at the last minute realised that it was the train going south, instead of the train to the north where we needed to go. We just took the next train to the north and soon arrived at the Taiwan High-Speed Rail Hsinchu Station, from where we took the free Shuttle Bus to the Zhubei Train Station.
From the Zhubei Train Station, we walked to our hotel for two nights, the Yuhao Hotel. It was already dark, and Zhubei doesn´t really have sidewalks, but it does have much traffic. So we actually dropped the idea of pulling our luggage through the busy main street and fortunately found a parallel road with much less traffic, where it felt safe to walk on the street in the dark with our heavy luggage in tow. We were happy to finally reach the hotel, and it was a nice one with a spacious room, flat screen TV with loads of channels, refrigerator and also a view (although Zhubei’s skyline may not be the best). For dinner we had some street food around the corner – there are many options in the area.
The reason we came to Zhubei was that it seemed like a good starting point for a visit to the Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area, which we wanted to explore the next day.