Dakeng Hiking Trails, a Taichung Story.

The Dakeng hiking trails were one of the first things I found online to do in Taichung, and I was so excited to finally hike!

I was up early-ish, got breakfast and snacks from the 7/11 and found the bus stop that would take me to the start of the trails.

There are 10 trails that you can follow, ranging from easy, through to medium and hard. 1 to 5 are the furthest from the City and are definitely on the harder side. I decided I would mix it up a bit and start at 1, continue to 5 and finish off at 4. There’s a map below so you can check the routes.

I took bus number 66 to the start of trail 1, it was a pretty long journey but mainly because I didn’t check the times and just had Google maps to help me out!

Armed with snacks, water, and grape soda, I was ready to go. Trails 6-10 are the easier routes which are laid out as paths with only gentle inclines. However 1-5 trails are mostly made up of log steps and stairs which you have to concentrate on a little more as some people have slipped a leg through the gaps and broken bones.

There weren’t many people around when I began my hike, and I soon found myself alone. This was only unnerving when I passed a few warning signs for snakes and hornets! I started thinking…is this going to end in disaster? However I love being surrounded by nature and I wasn’t about to give up.

The beginning of the hike was through beautiful woodland, I spotted some big spiders and I had a variety of butterflies fluttering around me. Then I reached the beginning of the log trail.

It’s a stunningly designed walkway which looks amazing, and as I slowly started my ascent I could glimpse some amazing views through the foliage.

You basically follow the spine of the mountains along, so eventually the thick foliage gave way to an extraordinary green landscape as far as the eye could see. With some pretty huge spiders hanging about.

I won’t lie, I did find it hard going at times, as you climb pretty high. Along the routes are little cabins or picnic areas. These were great to stop in and get some shade, have some food and hydrate.

There were groups in some of these areas cooking loads of different dishes and it looked like everyone was having a great time. The weather was also amazing! It ws so hot I had to take my top off to stay a bit cooler.

By this point I was almost at the end of trail 5, and ready to tackle the hardest route, 4. Luckily for me I did it this way around, as going down was pretty steep and I read that going up is super difficult.

I saw a few big hornets and had read that there were monkeys around too but I didn’t see any. I reached the end of the hike and made it to the main road. I wasn’t sure about buses but after about 20 minutes one turned up!

I jumped on, and then off again in a small village, I noticed a bubble tea shop and an icy cold drink was much needed in the heat.

My next bus appeared and I had a big decision. I wanted to try and get back to the Gaomei mudflats but as I passed through the City I realised it would be another stressful attempt to get there before sunset.

So I hopped off the bus and checked trusty old Google maps for something interesting. I was near Providence University and I spotted a little blue camera nearby on the map. When I got there it was a cool little street with loads of awesome street art!

So after taking some fun pics I realised I was pretty far from my hotel, so I took the bus straight down towards my part of the City. I was starving after all the hiking and couldn’t wait to eat.

Unfortunately I couldn’t really find anywhere near my hotel, until I stumbled upon a little rice place. I ordered kimchi rice and devoured it. Then headed back to my hotel, I was on to my next destination tomorrow. The capital of Taiwan, Taipei.

There are so many amazing and fun things to do in Taichung that I didn’t get to see. So I’m looking forward to visiting again!

Taichung and the Rainbow Village.

After a great first day in Taiwan I was ready for more! Taichung has so much to do and see I was a little overawed, but I made a vague plan in my head and off I went, stopping at a 7/11 I bought a card for the bus which you can top up at machinea and 7/11s, I also bought some snacks for the day.

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I always try and use google maps to check what points of interest there are nearby, I love the fact that you can tap the icons and see pictures of each place. This gives you a better idea of whether it’s worthwhile to visit. With that in mind I saw that there was a homage to the bus stop in Totoro, a popular anime in Japan. As a big studio ghibli fan I was really excited to see it and obviously get a picture. It was also only a short walk from my hotel!

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Once I had taken (several) pics with Totoro, I was off to the magical sounding Rainbow Village. It was originally built to house soldiers fleeing from the Chinese civil war in 1949, however it soon fell into disrepair and the government began to demolish it.

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Huang Yong-Fu was one of these soldiers, and with just 11 houses left, he began to paint the remainder of his village. This was in 2010, and after being discovered by some students, the village is now an instagrammers dream. At 90 years old he’s the last resident there and still goes around touching up his paintings. You could take a taxi there but I decided to risk public transport. So I walked back to the main train station in Taichung and took the train out to Xinwuri and took the number 56 bus from outside.

I loved the village and the positive message of the paintings, don’t be surprised about how small it is and as it’s free, grab a souvenir from the little gift shop.

It had been so easy to get to the rainbow village that I was super confident about reaching my next destination, the Gaomei wetlands. Located in the North West of Taichung along the coast, it’s a biologically diverse area where you can spot loads of rare birds, crabs and mud skippers. It’s also one of Taichung’s and maybe Taiwan’s most beautiful areas.

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However, I had made a couple of big mistakes, not only had I underestimated how big Taichung is and how long it would take to get from the rainbow village to Gaomei , but I also forgot that the sun sets a lot earlier in SE Asia than in Europe. So after waiting for the bus, then the train towards Qingshui station – this is the closest station to Gaomei, I realised I would never make it before dark. So after having a bit of a stress out I realised there was a thing called a taxi! I didn’t even ask how much it would cost, I just jumped in and hoped that I would at least make it there before the sun started setting.

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So after an expensive 30 minute taxi journey I made it! I was immediately wowed by the view, with the amazing boardwalks winding out to the sea, wind turbines framing one side of the landscape and a huge sun slowly meeting the horizon.

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I followed the lead of others there and walked along the boardwalk, spotting the crabs and mud skippers I had read about, there were hundreds! I reached the end of the boardwalk, popped my shoes off and stepped out onto the mud. The reflections of the sun and sky on the thin layer of water was breathtaking. I was so glad I had made the effort to get here when I was almost going to give up.

It was super windy but everyone was having so much fun. The sun had set by this point which meant it was time to go! This time the only reason I was in a rush was because I was hungry. I took the 178 bus towards Qingshui station, then jumped on a 306, getting off at Zhishan Rd. It was around a 1Km walk from here to the market.

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Once I got there I was like a kid in a sweet shop. There was so much to choose from even trying to be vegetarian, there was definitely enough to try! I had one dish in mind and I was so excited when I found it! Stinky tofu is made from fermenting the tofu in a mix of fermented milk and vegetable brine, it’s then deep fried and served with chilli and soy sauce and pickled vegetables. It was absolutely delicious, but it really did stink too!

I also tried scallion pancakes which were amazing, and a huge deep fried mozzarella stick. Obviously I washed this all down with a brown sugar milk bubble tea. It was amazing and I was really enjoying wandering and checking out all the crazy food and it was defnitely a sense sensation. I was so full now so I decided to walk it off a little and look at the clothes, electrical goods and souvenirs. I also had a play in one of the arcades that I found. There were definitely some interesting sights…..

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It was getting late and I was quite far from my hotel, so I picked up some drinks and a waffle ice cream from a 7/11 and, using google maps I worked out the best bus route to get me home. So far Taiwan has been everything I wanted and more, tomorrow I was excited to get out into the countryside, and after a busy day I soon fell asleep back at the hotel.

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Tearing it up in Taichung.

I was so excited to visit Taiwan, it was a complete left field choice. At first the decision was based on the fact it was only £25 to fly from Hong Kong. Once I had done a little research my mind was made up.

The flight was only cheap to fly into Taichung, a City on the West coast of the island. I landed mid-morning and took a bus from the airport to the City Centre. This is when I started to realise just how big the City was, it took around 1 hour and 45 minutes to get across the City to the MINI hotel, my bed for the next few nights.

I chose this hotel because it seemed to encapsulate the quirkiness of Taiwan, and it was close to the train station. I checked in and got to my room which I loved. It reminded me of my room back when I was about 14.

I literally chucked my stuff in and headed out to explore! The first thing I noticed were all the grab machine places. It seemed like there was one on every corner!

My destination was anime street, a really cool little path with classic anime and computer game characters plastered along it. On my way I stumbled upon a cool art moment, lots of little silos with various pieces painted on them. I was already getting more excited about exploring Taiwan!

I reached the comic book lane and it was everything I was hoping for, anime, mario, and Totoro! I was in geek heaven and I used a variety of surfaces to balance my phone so I could take loads of pics.

Do you like milk bubble tea? Is that a silly question? Because Taichung is where the original tea came from! I checked my maps and it was only a short walk to Chun Shui Tang. I ordered the classic and it was so delicious! It was also fun to visit the birthplace of bubble tea.

From here I walked along the river, this area was so peaceful to walk through and the space that has been created is beautiful. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I checked the maps and decide to keep walking till I got to Taichung park.

This park had so many interesting elements, from the lake and bridges to temples and interesting sculptures. I sat and watched the sunset on a great first day in Taiwan.

On my walk back I stopped off at a famous chicken shop that I had been highly recommended. Foregoing my vegetarianism for a night I indulged in some amazing fried chicken.

Then I meandered slowly back to my hotel, enjoying the warm evening and the beautiful architecture.