7 oct. 2013

A trip around New Taipei City (Taiwan)

One week ago I did a weekend getaway around New Taipei district (known in chinese as 新北市 ).
We could actually define this district as the "suburb" of Taipei City. If we take a look to a map we will see that New Taipei City completely surrounds Taipei City. In the late years this district turned into a special municipality and it population grown rapidly. In consequence of that this district is progressively developing.

Our first stop on was the district of Shuangxi [雙溪區], we got off the train, rent some bicycles and trip around this rural district (probably the most rural place around New Taipei City). Most of the landscape was formed by cultivating fields, many kinds of plants and long roads. That was my 1st time experiencing the rural Taiwan on such a "close" way: eating the typical, dishes, drinking some Oolong tea accompanied by the local, visiting an old temple while we hear some explanaitions about the religions traditions and also make a first contact with the traditional chinese medicine by tasting some of their products.

Village of Shuangxi
Our Guest House in Shuangxi

On the next day our visit took place mostly around the east side of Shuangxi.  Our second stop was the famous and popular Beach of Fulong. A huge big beach placed on the west of Shuangxi, in Gongliao district. This beach is a popular spot for the young people and every summer since 2000 it takes place a music festival called Hohaiyan Rock Festival. Our lodging for the 2 nights we spent was a pleasanr guest house placed in the mountains called 山明水舍民宿. Their owners were so kind with us, gave us a a familiar treat. 

Fulong Beach 
On our second day, the trip was mostly around the eastern and northern districts of Shuangxi. We fisrt visited Houtong [猴硐], a very famous attraction in Taiwan, also known as the "Cat Village". It's actually a very small place with a particular fact. Probably The biggest part of its habitants are cats. It's a perfect place for cat lovers or just the perfect spot if you want to take pictures of cats. Most of them are
quite naive with humans, so you won't have any problem to cuddle them. After having a meal in Houtong (we didn't eat anything related with cats...) we took a train to our next stop: Pingxi.

Pinxi is also a very special village, constructed of both sides of the train tracks. Is also an old style village almost surrounded by mountains. For me, one of the bests landscapes you can find in Taiwan. People will specially come to make their own Sky lantern [天燈], writting their wishes on it and then release it to the sky by burning some paper money placed on the inside. The system is based on the hot air ballon. There are several kinds of lanterns. From the single colour ones to the four coloured ones. Each colour can represent a different kind of wish. So you should write a different kind of wish according to the colour. Obviously we made and releases our own lantern. And fortunately our lantern didn't burn away. That means our wished may be felt by the gods... who knows...

This sky lantern tradition comes from the chinese tradition. Each year takes place a lantern festival, a propicious day chosen to throw all the lanterns where you can see many tourists mostly from Japan and Korea. It's specially beautiful to whatch all the lanterns shining in the black sky of Shifen and Pingxi (both places take the lantern festival). At night we took a walk around Shifen [十份] at have a dinner in there.

Houtong Village

Landscape of Pingxi
 Can you see the lanterns in the sky?

On our third and last day we moved to the coast and border it until we arrive in Jilong [基隆]. We had the chance to enjoy the magnificent view of the taiwanese northeastern coast. On our way to Jilong we made some stops. The first stop was to take a bath on some kind of resort designed for the snorkling practice. The weather was very hot, so after the bath we all felt so relieved. Once in Jilong we ate some local specialty. Jilongs is the second largest port in Taiwán after Gaoxiong [高雄]. It's actually an independent city from Taipei. It's a very recommendable place. Has something different with the rest of small cities around Taiwan and it also has a famous night market. It's common to spent an afternoon in Jilong with friends.  
Our last stop was the "New Taipei City International Kite Festival" placed on a beach at Shimen district [石門] called Baisha Bay. This was my 1st time on a kite festival. I've had never seen that as many kites in the sky as there. We even had the oportinity to fly some weird kinds of kites and also a huge panda kite. Everything was so colourful and lively. Definetely a good ending to our trip. But we still enjoyed our trip back home in the car. Was nice because we pass through a mountain to get back in Taipei and we could enjoy Taipei's view from above.    

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