Its the first day of 2019! Happy New Year so let’s start the first post of the year with a travel post and hope for more travels in the year.
Qing Jing is a small farm resort area in Ren’Ai town within the Nantou County. To reach Qing Jing, you can either drive which is 3 hours from Taipei / Taoyuan International airport or you can also take a train from Taoyuan train station to Taichung train station for 25 mins before changing to a bus heading to Nantou for another 2 hours. The bus is located at exit 5 and cost TWD 262 per person.
For us, we decided to go for a private driver and van transfer which cost us TWD 11,000 ( SGD 490 ) for 2 days. The driver picked us up directly from Taoyuan airport and helped us with all luggage. In fact, private hire is very popular and common in Taiwan where the drivers cum tour guide will actually plan the itinerary for you depending on the days you intend to spend in Taiwan. The price usually defers by the size of the vehicle and the route taken. The average cost is TWD 5000 – 6000 per day.
The van was fairly comfortable for us as it is a 8 seater but there was only 3 of us so we had the back row fully empty and more than enough space for our luggage. The middle row was spacious enough for us with great leg room as the driver adjusted the chairs all the way back for us. We had communicated our itinerary in Qing Jing with the driver prior to our arrival but you can also make any changes with recommendation from the driver. As we were tired from our red eye flight, we told the driver to drive to Qing Jing direct without any rest stop as we simply slept all the way.
Surprisingly, we arrived much earlier than expected at our first itinerary location and the place is not opened yet so we decided to stop over for breakfast. The driver must have driven pretty fast but the journey was very smooth so we all slept very soundly. The breakfast stop was legit traditional and local in a small shop house by the side of the busy street. The owners all looked grouchy and unfriendly but I guess it is not isolated to us as they treated all customers the same way.
We ordered the egg crepe which was a flour based thin crepe filled with pork floss. I would have expected the crepe to be more crispy but instead it was more of a soft and chewy consistency. The taste was not fantastic but very basic.
This other dish was something we saw many locals come by and ordered takeaways so we decided to give it a try and it came with the noodles below. This was like a starchy soup where you can either eat it together with the noodles ( pour it on the noodles ) or to eat it as a side from the noodle. The soup has many ingredients like cabbage, carrots, black fungus, meat and pig’s blood. The starchy soup itself was pretty bland with a light soy taste.
The noodles on it’s own was much tastier as we tried it on its own and with the soup poured onto the noodles. The noodles itself was very plain yet tasty with a savoury seasoned sauce lightly drizzled onto the noodles. With the soup added, it kind of made the entire plate bland and tasteless.
We also had the dumpling which looked similar to our meat dumpling in Singapore but taste pretty different. The dumpling had soy bean curd and peanuts included and the fillings tasted more braised then our usual ones. The combination of the rice and filling was more light and less greasy than the ones we have here.
As we are an hour away from the opening hours of the first stop, our driver decided to stop us at a nearby temple which has the largest 4 faced Buddha in Taiwan. The temple has many steps leading up to 2 tiers, first tier with a slightly smaller platform with a 4 faced Buddha statue and further up on second tier there is another platform with a much bigger 4 faced buddha statue.
Even the wooden lots here for praying are gigantic. The usual lots we use at temples for asking deities questions are usually shaken until 1 lot is given and approved by the deities. Here since the lot is gigantic, you only need to randomly pick 1 lot and get the deities’ approval.
Out of respect, I did not take any pictures of the statues. Instead, there is another platform located right on top showing a very nice aerial view of the surrounding mountains. The climb up is not difficult but be prepared to climb through some hardly used stairways with cobwebs and fallen leaves.
Our first stop Tonight the stars in Changhua opens only 10 am and is a fantasy themed farm with many different kinds of animals where you can have close up interactions.
The main entrance of the farm has many props and decorations displayed for picture taking. We did not take much pictures as it was really hot and there were too many flies. In my opinion, the decorations were more suited for family with kids.
One of the main attractions of the farm is the llama and alpaca area where you can have up close and personal interactions with the animals. The bigger ones are the llamas and they are much more ferocious and active compared to the alpacas. We actually witnessed a llama spit at a little girl’s face just because the girl refused to feed it.
The smaller alpacas were more approachable and friendly once you have the food in your hands. Tourists who are empty handed are usually ignored but you can still attempt to cuddle them and take pictures with them. Most of the guides have a way with the alpacas and know the way to make them pose for pictures as most of the alpacas are camera shy and will avoid you once they see the camera pointing at them.
Some of the other cute animals include fluffy huge bunnies. If you fully explore the entire farm, it will take 1 – 2 hours and perhaps longer if you have kids. There are small eateries within the farm for lunch as well.
Address: No. 428, Section 1, Shipai Road, Changhua City, Changhua County, Taiwan 500
Operating hours: 10 am to 7 pm ( 9 am on Sat and Sun)
Entrance Fee: TWD 150 for adults TWD for children below 140 cm and Free for those below 100 cm
Our next stop was the Green Green Grassland which is a huge farm with many free roaming sheep.
While exploring the farm you can chance upon the many free roaming sheep which are not too friendly and camera shy as well. If you try to get up close to them, they will start to run away.
The views of the entire farm is picturesque with rolling hills of greenery against the backdrop of brilliant blue skies. This is an extremely popular site for couples to take their wedding pictures with the vast amount of space.
There are also natural walk ways and pavilions like this for you to take a rest or even have picnics. During certain timings, there are also sheep shearing demonstration shows for the visitors and you can purchase sheep milk and other cute sheep souvenirs. Overall, you can take your time to explore the farm and take wonderful pictures and it would take you anywhere from 1 hours to 3 hours to finish walking the farm.
Address: No. 170號, Renhe Road, Ren’ai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 546
Operating hours: 8 am to 5 pm
Entrance Fee: TWD 160 for adult and TWD 200 during holidays. Special concessions for students and senior.
Right at the exit of Green Green Grassland, there is a market selling local food and fruits. You can also choose to enter the farm from the entrance here and go uphill but there is only 1 exit which is the one at the market so the tip is to enter the farm from the entrance on top of the hill and make your way down slowly instead of climbing uphill and down again to exit.
As there was not much food or eateries within the farm, you can fill your stomach with the local food here. Some of the more popular items include; barbequed sausage, bean curd, fried rice as well as noodles.
We tried the Taiwanese sausage with glutinous rice and bean curd with peanut toppings and coriander. The food was nice but not the best we had before.
You will also find several stores selling fruits from the mountain region. It might be tempting to purchase them and despite the fruits being slightly cheaper than Taipei, I would not recommend to buy the fruits from Qing Jing. Firstly, because of the pure weight of lugging the fruits around and secondly, from experience, the ones from Taipei taste much better.
Our next attraction which is located just opposite the exit of Green Green Grassland was the newly opened Skywalk this year. The skywalk spans 1.2 KM in length above the grassland and mountain area of Qing Jing. To finish walking the skywalk, it approximately needs 2000 steps.
The skywalk is 1700 – 2000 metres above sea level and there are some parts of the skywalk that extends out to mountains so you will be standing right above the valley.
The entire walk is an easy walk if you start from the exit of Green Green Grassland as it goes downhill all the way. If you start from the bottom up, it is quite tough as you need to be rather fit to climb the steep slopes. We walked past many panting tourist as they start from below. The skywalk spans across forests and is far from the main road so you get the freshest Qing Jing air while you stroll down the pavement. It takes about 20 – 35 mins walking on normal pace to complete the skywalk.
Address: No. 186-1, Renhe Road, Ren’ai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 546
Operating hours: 9 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm
Entrance Fee: TWD 50
By the time, you have completed all the above itinerary, the day would have come to an end and it will be time for an early dinner before resting and getting ready for the Sunrise tour which I will write about in another post.