We were out the door first thing in the morning, after a scrumptious breakfast at the coffee house of City Suites Taoyuan Gateway, as we looked out from the windows to the fast trains on the Taiwan High Speed Rail that head to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
It was going to be full day on the road, only making a stop after an hour’s drive southwest to Beipu Township in Hsinchu County, the heartland of the Hakka community.
Preceding my trip to Taiwan, I did not know that Taiwan has a large community of Hakka descent. I knew that Mandarin is the official language of the country, and that the primary dialect is Hokkien.
At Beipu Township and subsequently Sanyi Township in Miaoli County (苗栗县), I was able to get to know the Hakka people, speak to them, and to understand their lifestyle. For shopkeepers who are conversant in Hakka, there is a sticker at their storefront to indicate so, which makes it easy for Hakka tourists to shop.
The Hakka Village
Beipu is exceedingly Insta-worthy with its quaint houses in the Hakka village, with faded red lanterns at the doorway to greet visitors. Even though we were there during wintertime, it was a delight to spot budding cherry blossoms (or Sakura), which are only expected to bloom in spring; late January or early February.
Beipu also has an old “section” to the town, which makes it worth the time doing a walking tour, with Fu-De Temple as starting point. In my opinion, Taiwan is a tourist-friendly country. In most towns, there are maps of local landmarks, with QR codes to scan for more in-depth information.
Our final destination for the day was Zhuo Ye Cottage (卓也小屋) in Sanyi Township (三义乡). To reach there, from Beipu, we drove further southwest, stopping at a few points of interest (POI).
The park that is yet to be named
The first POI was a newly established park in Sanwan Township, about 45 minutes’ drive. This place is so new, it does not have a suitable name yet. Planted with bald cypress trees (taxodium distichum), different seasons of the year offer varied views and photographic effects.
This park is still a work in progress. I can’t wait to see how it fully developed in due time.
All things chocolate
Our next stop after that was Schokolake, Taiwan’s first chocolate-themed manor. Coming to Schokolake is like arriving at chocolate haven. All cocoa beans are imported from Ecuador, South America; the food served at the eatery here offers a menu that, of course, has a touch of chocolate in every item.
Obviously, it’s not just about food at Schokolake. It is also an exceptionally popular country-style accommodation, a wonderful option for families or groups of friends who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Just some 30 minutes further south, over winding and bumpy mountainous roads, Mile High Leisure Farm offers a contrasting experience, 700 metres above sea level atop Guandaoshan. Mile High Leisure Farm is a combo of bed & breakfast, restaurant and farm, managed by a Hakka family.
Serving authentic Hakka cuisine, visitors are also at liberty to participate in farming activities, such as crop picking. The availability of crops differs every season, and according to weather conditions. Just to give you an idea, common crops include ginger, strawberry, peach, plum, passion fruit, pumpkin and seasonal vegetables.
Rustic Hakka accommodation
Just 20 minutes’ drive to the west is Zhuo Ye Cottage, which also provides accommodation but in the form of rustic Hakka-style huts. Zhou Ye Cottage is like a secluded, forested village, where you are accompanied by animals, friendly neighbours (staff and fellow guests) and fresh air.
Similar to Mile High Leisure Farm, guests at Zhou Ye Cottage are encouraged to participate in the activities and workshops lined up. At Zhou Ye, it would be learning the techniques of tie-dying, using indigo dye produced from the farm itself.
This was where we stayed the night, after tucking into a most delicious vegetarian steamboat dinner.
Read next post: 6D/5N Taiwan Small Town Ramble: Day 3
This trip was arranged by one of Ipoh’s top travel agencies, Golden Century Tour & Travel.
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