Summer is rather hot in Taiwan and sometimes it may be even hotter than Malaysia. But I still travel to Taiwan in summer…
Summer is rather hot in Taiwan and sometimes it may be even hotter than Malaysia. But I still travel to Taiwan in summer as I choose my destination wisely to avoid the uncomfortable sweat from the heat and humidity of the weather.
Last summer I travelled to ShinShe (新社) in TaiChung County, which is only 40 minutes’ drive from Taichung City. It is a small town located at the rural area to the northeast of Taichung city, in Central Taiwan. As ShinShe is surrounded by the moutains, the climate here is just nice and about 6 degrees lower than the city. Shinshe is also known as the “back garden” of Taichung and it has become one of the most popular destinations for the locals to get away from the hustles of city life. The main reasons that attract visitors to this area are the agricultural produce, the natural sceneries, the green mountains, clear water running in the creek, the “sea of flowers” comprising of assorted plants and flowers, the charming gardens and cafes and the unique cottages for vacationers.
This place is a very well planned and friendly for visitors. By following the colour painted on the lamp posts, the route will lead you to the 7 different sightseeing routes of ShinShe. Each of these routes has a unique theme. The Green route is the ecology and LOHAS route, Blue is for sky views at night, Pink for peach blossoms in spring, Yellow for the route of flowers, Brown for the route of mushrooms, Purple the colour of romance route, Red for a dose of history and culture. The 7 colours will bring you to the botanical attractions, star-gazing, herbal dining, forests, cottages and numerous open-air cafes and etc. The 7 theme routes provide a different focus in each of the four seasons.
Mushroom (Brown) Route
The brown route – mushroom route, is located along the main road of Xiezhong Street which is also known as Mushroom Street. Here, you may find all kinds of mushroom shops, eateries and farms. Do stop by and enjoy the BBQ mushroom, fried mushroom, mushroom steamboat and various snacks and products made from mushroom. This is also a good place to get some souvenirs home.
Still on the mushroom route, at the other side of Xiezhong Street, you may find the Summit Resort ShinShe Castle (新社古堡). This castle is a very nice park with European architecture and it is one of the main attractions that you should not miss. You may easily spend more than 2~3 hours walking in the park, around the pond and enjoy some coffee in the cafe. I had a great time taking photos around the park, even the toilet is clean with nice flower decorations.
There is a man-made waterfall with a fountain in the park, it was very nice to walk through the waterfall via a wooden path with the spray mist settling on my face. Bridges are built around the pond, follow the bridge till the end and you will come to the castle. Go up to the castle and you may take a panoramic view from here. Behind the castle is a shady sitting area at the backyard with nice arch and flowers. There are colourful flowers all around and it is really a pleasant ambience. At the other side of the park there is a tree house with restaurant.
Romance (Purple) Route
Another famous attraction in ShinShe is the Lavender Cottage (薰衣草森林). It is located at the far end of the purple route and this is one of the main reasons that make ShinShe famous in the online community. This place was established by two young ladies who wanted to fulfil their dreams of growing a field of lavender.
Hence, they quit their job in Taipei, found a land in ShinShe and started to create their own ideal dream world. Combining herbal agriculture with a café, restaurant, souvenir shop and with only 4 rooms for accommodation, the two ladies have found their establishment especially popular and famous amongst the many notable surrounding cafes and resorts online. It has attracted a lot of curious visitors to Shinshe and hence, stimulated the tourism here. Visitors go to Lavender Cottage to experience a retreat of simplicity, herbs and nature. There is also a wishing tree at the top of the lavender fields, don’t forget to make a wish and hit the drum.
There is another nice restaurant near by Lavender Cottage known as the Xanadu (桃李河畔). It is not so big but the building in white and the dining table under the tree with white chair and white umbrella are charming. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining. You may come here to dine or just to enjoy a wonderful high tea. With cherry blossoms and plum blossoms flowering here during the spring, the landscape is awesome!
There is a Sea of Flowers Festival (新社花海节) which falls on November every year. This year the festival will be held from Nov 17 till Dec 16. This is also a main attraction of ShinShe with countless colourful flowers and fruits on display here, and also some activities and theme exhibits. The period from November to February is also a season for fruits like grapes, tangerine and pineapple. I will definitely go back for the festival one day.
History and Culture
(Red) Route There are many home-stays available in Shinshe. I chose to stay in a country house in the mountain farm called Happy Farm (幸福农庄) located near a long bridge. The rooms are clean and tastefully decorated with wall paper. It is a quiet place with a gorgeous view, especially at the hill top open air restaurant.
Sitting at the hill top, having a warm steamboat or home-made noodles, or just a cup of coffee, looking down at the winding road, the green valley and the Da Jia River, the 360 degrees panoramic view is simple awesome. There is a huge old tree at the top of the restaurant, make a wish. It will listen to you and make your dream come true. Once you have your wish fulfilled, you must come back to repay by just buying a broom and sweep the leaves from the ground!
Happy Farm website : http://happyfarm.emmm.tw/
Map of ShinShe
Getting there There is very limited public transportation to ShinShe.
The easiest and most convenient way is to take a taxi from Taichung city. It is only about 40 minutes’ drive from Taichung city.
If you opt for public transportation, take the bus of Fengyuan Bus Company from Taichung city to Dongshi through Zhongxingling. This bus will pass through ShinShe. Check the bus timetable at www. fybus.com.tw/bus8.htm
If you wish to drive from Taichung city, get on Dong Shan Road and head towards the Da Keng Jung Xing Ridge. From there, head towards Shinshe. There are easy-to-follow signage on the roads leading to Shinshe.