Goodbye Kaohsiung, hello Sun Moon Lake! Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry, neither had I until we were planning this trip. When Swag Master first suggested that we stay in Taichung for a day and then go to Sun Moon Lake, I just nodded as if I knew what she was talking about, and then quickly did a Google image search. It just took one look at the gorgeous photos for me to get behind this idea, and I’m so glad I did!
Okay, first things first: Taichung. It’s a quick ride from Kaohsiung by way of the bullet train – although I feel for all the passengers that had to dodge us as we barreled into the train with all of our luggage – and our hostel, Stray Birds, was absolutely fantastic. Seriously, American hotels should look to them for ideas; the lobby is the definition of picturesque, complete with reading nooks shaped like bird houses and wooden birds hanging from the ceiling. And it is very conveniently right across the street from a store that is filled to the brim with junk food, which we raided. Twice. I am now an expert of pocky, and am encouraged by the fact that gummy bears taste the same no matter where you are in the world. 🙂
There’s also a beautiful park that runs for several blocks, and we spent the first afternoon exploring all the cool statues:
It helped that Taichung is not quite as humid as Kaohsiung (amazing what a difference traveling an hour north can make!), so we were able to walk around and enjoy our surroundings and not just melt in the heat. The only other thing that we really did was go to church, and getting there was another adventure, thanks to our amazing cabbie driver. No, we didn’t have any near death experiences, thankfully; somehow, and I’m still not sure how it all happened, the car turned into a karaoke car, complete with MC and I singing random K pop songs while the driver gave us a thumb’s up and begged for more, declaring in very broken English that he loved it. Best. Driver. EVER.
The mass was absolutely wonderful, thanks to the amazing choir. The songs that they sang – unbelievably beautiful, that’s all I can say. I have absolutely no clue as to what they were saying, but it sounded majestically fantastic. And a special shout-out to the couple that was wearing matching plaid shirts, my first time seeing a couple’s outfit in real life! This is a thing and I want everyone in America to do it for my amusement. Maybe I’ll add that in to my next book…
And now, Sun Moon Lake. I’m not going to describe it, because the pictures say it all:
Yes, this is a real place, and yes, these are pictures that I took myself.
It’s the largest lake in Taiwan, going as deep as twenty stories, and has a system of ferries that you can take to visit two villages; there’s another spot, but it’s completely off limits to visitors, reserved only for the locals for worship. It’s a big tourist destination for the Taiwanese; I think we were the only foreigners there, at least on that day, which was just the perfect day for exploring, might I add. The sun wasn’t too hot, and there was a breeze that encouraged you to just keep climbing those steps to see the perfect view which, as you can tell, was amazing.
Just when it couldn’t get any better, two things happened: one, we had the pleasure of having the Asian version of Dwight from The Office be our ferry driver. Seriously, from the glasses to the dour expression, this guy was the Taiwanese version of him, right down to the sense of humor: he played My Heart Will Go On as we were returning from the islands, and we were unable to resist the lure of a song in English. The other ferry riders were treated to a free concert…I’m sure they were sitting in stunned silence because they were blown away by our talent. It can’t get better than that, now can it?
But wait, yes it can! Remember how I was hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration that resulted in Hart & Seoul? IT HAPPENED AGAIN. One minute I’m enjoying the scenery, the next a scene is playing out in my head, so vivid that it’s like I’m watching it. And even better, it’s for the story that’s haunted me since college. WAHOO!!! I HAVE MORE IDEAS!!! #jobsecurity It is for that reason that Sun Moon Lake will have a special place in my heart.
There is one final stop in Taiwan before we get to the grand finale. Think you can guess what it is?