Taiwan Trip Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 5: Just as we were getting used to our minsu at Miaoli, we had to leave for Taichung. With most of our family trips, we try to have at least 2 nights of stay at each accommodation to allow sufficient exploration and rest. Glad we did that.

After the usual breakfast at the minsu, we bid farewell to our hosts, took the mandatory photos and packed our bags into the driver’s car. A note on the driver – he left us for a day and drove all the way back to Taipei and then back again to pick us up! I felt bad after knowing that’s what he had to do. Most travel companies might charge a night of accommodation for the driver since we didn’t use his service for a day, but Hong Tour didn’t do so. Instead, he went off to do a pick up for other clients and came back 2 nights later to drive us for another day of tour towards Taichung. Very blessed to encounter an honest and accommodating tour company.

First stop was:

1) Xinshe Sea of Flower Festival (新社花海)

This is not a permanent place but one which is seasonal. Normally it takes place from early Nov to early Dec each year. Google the Chinese name to check the season each other or just ask your local accommodation folks; they will know.

We decided to visit because my mother loves flowers. But we kinda of choose the wrong day to visit – on a weekend. Sad smile Going with our itinerary, it was tough to move it around. So we went ahead despite knowing that it will be crowded. Thankfully, we headed in early at the advice of our driver and managed to skip the car-crowd. It is a one way in and one way out road; so strongly advisable to go early or get stuck in the traffic jam.

When we reached there, it was a sea of PEOPLE together with the sea of flowers….. Furthermore, it was a really sunny day; thus making the walk around the exhibits a little uncomfortable.

We rushed through the flowers, took some shots and dashed into the food market next to the festival for some reprise. It is similar to our pasar malam or the Taiwan night markets; except it’s sheltered. We bought some street food, ate and drank and was out of the place by 12-1pm.

Will recommend this place if you are a flower lover but do go on a weekday or head in early to avoid crowds.

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2) Master of Mushroom Restaurant (菇神)

I was searching for a place nearby Xinshe to have lunch and learnt from our driver that Master of Mushroom is nearby. Saw online that most have good things to say about this mushroom place.

We stopped here for lunch and it was crowded! Thankfully our driver helped to call ahead and make a reservation for us. We took a few hot pot sets and added more mushroom dishes. It was more than enough (as usual). Meal was alright, though I won’t rate it a must-go/must-eat place. The mushroom drink tasted like “bird-nest drink”. It was a convenient stop-over place for lunch as it was near to Xinshe. There was an in-house shop where we bought more mushroom products as souvenirs for friends.

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Website: http://0425822585.tai-chung.com.tw/

3) Xinshe / Taichung Go-Karting (新社卡丁車)

I first read about Go-karting in Taichung from one of my blogger’s friend’s (Miracule) blog. She used the same Tour Taiwan company. I thought my thrill-seeking boy will love that. So I requested Wendy from Hong Tour to add in Go-Karting in our schedule. There was one such track in Xinshe and we went there after lunch. It is a small track but great that they allowed younger children to ride with one adult. I didn’t take note of the age limit, but recalled that there were kids who looked as young as 5 to 6 years old. Xi En was 6 years old when he took the ride next to me.

This has to be one of the highlights of the trip for both of us. Only we took the go-kart while the the rest waited around and entertained Eizac with some arcade-like games. My memory failed me – but I remember the price for go-karting in Taiwan was way cheaper than in Singapore. So it is worth a go if you have children who will enjoy such activities. Mine do. Smile

It is quite safe as the adult has the control of the pedal and the steering wheel. The child has a dummy steering wheel. Open-mouthed smile

Xi En kept asking me to accelerate but I was too good a driver to do so! haha. There were other sole adult drivers who were there for the speed and thrill. I was just a mother trying to protect my son by letting them go ahead of me and keeping Xi En at the safer edges. Too scarily-cat!

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A raw unedited short video of our go-karting experience:

https://youtu.be/k9YwWaMAFmw

4) Carton King (纸箱王 – 台中.大坑店)

There are actually a few Carton King outlets in Taiwan. The one in Taichung is one of their main shop and thus is bigger than the rest. I misread some reviews online that it isn’t worth going and asked the tour company to drop this place. But our driver encourage us to go as the one in Taichung have good reviews. We are glad we changed our mind and went in the end.

This was the most expensive entrance fee of all the tourist places we went to. Entrance fee is NTD200. You can only redeem NTD100 for products.

Nonetheless, we had a good afternoon exploring all the huge structures made from cartons. The kids could collect stamps from various “stations” around the premise and redeem a small gift after collecting all the stamps.

We bought yummy honey biscuits from the honey shop and had fun eating and drinking out of cardboard trays/holders. It is a novelty place and recommended for first timers. If you have time, you might like to try out their steamboat meals served out of cardboard. We were full from lunch and thus only tried out their tea sets which were good too!

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Website: http://www.cartonking.com.tw/

5) La Vida Hotel (Taichung) + Feng Chia Night Market

We ended the day by checking into La Vida Taichung hotel and walking through the night market. This hotel was undisputable the best stay in our Taiwan trip. The regret is we only stayed one night!!!

Hotel was strategically located just 2 mins walk from the famous Feng Chia Night Market  – managed to do some shopping here. We took turns to visit the night market – Edwin and I went down 3 times! – because we could take turns to watch the kids since the hotel is just next door to the night market. This is the only night market we could walk properly without the kids….

For the food – we queued wherever there was a Q! Tried a bit of everything; street food is best eaten piping hot! Smile with tongue out

We also had the best sleep here with cosy big beds and clean toilets with a huge bathtub! The breakfast buffet was a decent good spread and it was about 20 mins taxi ride to Taichung High Speed Rail.

Highly recommended to stay here if you are visiting Taichung.

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Ended exhausting Day 5 with a hot tub bubble bath while watching TV – a luxury especially for Xi En! Smile

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Read more about our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Taiwan Trip Day 4 (Miaoli : Flying Cow Ranch)

After a really cold night at Miaoli minsu, we woke up to sunshine which was really welcoming.

We didn’t go with our driver today as we intend to spend the whole day at Flying Cow Ranch. Instead we paid a transport fee to our minsu owners to ferry us to and fro and thereafter to a fruit picking farm as well.

Flying Cow Ranch (飛牛牧場)

This is one of the most visited place in Miaoli area. It is designed for tourists.

You can choose to stay at the premise or do a day trip which is what we did.

We didn’t managed to take part in the D.I.Y classes because we didn’t plan properly and missed the timings. Confused smile If you are staying there, chances are you can have more time to explore the farm and register in the D.I.Y classes at a more timely fashion. And if the kids are tired, there is the option to head back to the accommodation for a breather before continuing with the activities.

But of course, we tried to save money by staying at a minsu nearby.

Eizac was really tired by mid day and the 2 grandmothers took turn to watch him nap while the rest of us walked the farm. Thank God for grandmothers. Smile

Still, it was a fun day (for some of us) out at the farm; slipping F.O.C fresh milk (it’s really good!), eating take-outs, feeding sheep, taking the train, playing at the playground, chasing butterflies and many more.

If we do head back here, I am likely to choose a night of accommodation in-house so we have more time and a resting place in between.

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Official website of Flying Cow Ranch: http://www.flyingcow.com.tw/

Read more about our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei

Taiwan Trip Day 4 : Miaoli – Hao Wang Jiao Minsu (好望角民宿) > Fruit Picking

Day 4:

I choose a minsu in Maoli as there were very few good and affordable options in Miaoli. We almost went with F Hotel Sanyi but I cancelled the booking after I had good correspondences with the owner – Mary at Hao Wang Jiao ( 好望角民宿). I chanced upon good reviews on Tripadvisor and thought this will be a good alternative to hotels. Wendy, our travel guide, recommended hot springs hotels/accommodations but we are not huge fans of hot springs so decided to go for a mountainside minsu. Smile

Mary and her husband run Hao Wang Jiao minsu together. Their relatives run a camp site just down the hill – more suitable for locals.

We took 2 attic rooms which came with pine wood flooring, walls and stairs. Our room has a real attic room which can sleep a total of 7 to 8 pax; whereas my in-laws took the room next to ours with 2 huge beds good for 4 pax. The rental is very affordable as compared to Flying Cow Ranch and others nearby.

The downside: There is a flight of stairs to climb up to the rooms. And the rooms/bathrooms are a little dated in look and feel. Cleanliness and condition of the place is about 8/10 but still acceptable for a short stay.

The upside: The hospitality of the hosts – Mary and her husband – is superb! They welcomed us warmly when we reached. Helped to carry our luggage up the stairs and invited us downstairs with hot tea and some biscuits. We had home cooked breakfast on 2 mornings and it felt like they are relatives after a while! Their black dog was shy but otherwise all of them were a pleasure to mingle with. After the 2nd day, it felt like home!

There are 2 other rooms on the ground floor, but Mary said the attic rooms are better. Smile Mary’s husband (I can’t remember his name!) did most of the improvement works around the hill which are interesting when you looked closely.

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Mary’s husband and sister-in-law (we needed 2 cars) drove us to the Flying Cow Ranch (more about that on next post) and thereafter we requested to go fruit picking. They kindly picked us up after lunch and drove us to a local fruit picking farm. My mum is a huge fan of fruit picking. I can’t say it’s a proper farm; but more of a random, neighbourhood sort that only the locals might know. We paid a nominal fee to enter the land with plastic bags to pick up to a few kgs each. There were only oranges and persimmons in session; and they were grew on steep slopes. But we had good fun cutting, eating and selecting the best to pack. My two city kids were fighting to be the one to cut the fruits; clearly city kids. ^_^

We picked more than enough and feasted on yummy oranges for the next few days; and had bags to bless our driver and left some for the next guests at Hao Wang Jiao.

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After our fruitful fruit-picking-cum-eating session, we decided to eat in for the night and Mary offered to help us buy local noodles. We ordered a few variety but there weren’t any vegetarian options in the noodle shop (my mum is a vegetarian). Mary kindly offered to go to her sister-in-law’s house down the hill to grab some vegetables to stir-fry for my mum!

Xi En and I tagged along to harvest the greens – it’s a fun adventure for the city kid! And my mum – she simply loves from field-to-plate food produces. Smile

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We had a relaxing evening at Hao Wang Jiao; chatting and sipping tea with the hosts. The kids either ran around the compound or up and down the stairs.

There were nothing much to do, no high-technology cable TV to watch but that’s the whole point – we didn’t want to do much except to laze around and enjoy the fresh air.

Our hosts are really sunny and down-to-earth people and that made the whole minsu experience a pleasant one.

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Will recommend this place if you don’t mind roughing it out a little in a more rustic place. You will need to speak Mandarin as hosts are not proficient in English.

Their website: http://www.8898go.com/hwj/

I communicated with most Taiwanese via WeChat or LINE. Some use whatsapp as well. Will be useful to have those communications apps if you are planning to stay in minsu or Airbnb. Smile

Next up: Day trip to Flying Cow Ranch

Read more about our Taiwan trip below:

Day 1: Taipei (Taoyuan) > Yilan

Day 2: Yilan (Happiness 20 Farm > Crayon Art Factory > Traditional Art Center > Luodong Night Market)

Day 3: Yilan > Miaoli

Day 4: Miaoli (Hao Wang Jiao Minsu > Picking of seasonal fruits)

Day 4: Miaoli (Flying Cow Ranch)

Day 5: Miaoli > Taichung (Xinshe Sea of Flowers > Master of Mushroom > Go-Kart > Carton King > La Vida Hotel > Feng Chia night market)

Day 6: Taichung > Taipei

Day 7 & 8: Taipei