Yilan is located at the north-eastern corner of Taiwan. People from Taipei city are able to enjoy their weekend getaways in Yilan.
Text : Elina Heng Photos : Elina Heng / Kim Teoh
Yilan The Perfect Setting For Relaxation
Yilan is located at the north-eastern corner of Taiwan. Since the opening of the XueShan tunnel, the travelling distance between Taipei and Yilan has reduced considerably. Hence, people from Taipei city are able to enjoy their weekend getaways in Yilan. They are normally here to enjoy the hot springs, waterfalls, mountains, and green valley. Sometimes they are here just to laze around, relaxing or try to be a weekend farmer.
Yilan has all the perfect settings for a relaxing and LOHAS lifestyle.
Since the last few years Malaysian travellers began to know about Yilan, mostly through the leisure farms. Personally I have visited Yilan several times and stayed in some of the leisure farms there. In the leisure farms, visitors are able to enjoy the natural sceneries of the countryside, savour the local cuisines, catch a glimpse of the wildlife, and many more activities. Visiting leisure farms is the best way to soak-in the local features and the owner of the various theme farms are always on-hand to act as professional guides and show you around.
Shangri-La Leisure Farm is the first leisure farm in Taiwan, the very friendly owner Mr Zhang was known as the father of Leisure Farm. He started the leisure farm about 30 years ago. In the day time you may visit their orchards and forest recreation area, enjoy the delicious local cuisines in their restaurant, experience printing the handmade t-shirt or take a leisure walk up to the hilltop observation deck for a panoramic view of Meihwa Lake. In the evening tourists are invited to join the local activities and traditional games, such as sky lantern and giant top spinning.
San-fu Garden and Resort is another place that I like very much. It is just situated next to the Renshan Botanical Garden. In San-fu, the resort units are built in the jungle. When you stay here, you will get to experience the natural ambience of the forest. This farm advocates harmony with nature and ecology. Hence, pesticides and insecticides are prohibited. That is why, you may see many various species of insects, frogs, bugs and butterflies buzzing in the garden. I particularly enjoy my afternoon sipping a cup of the signature purple coffee, sitting at the purple house café located in the beautifully landscaped garden that oversees a hundred carps and a few ducks wading in the pond. Even the birds here well trained to entertain their guests. And the night walk with an expert in the jungle is a very unforgettable experience. I really gathered a lot of information, some of the things that I did not learn in schools.
If you would like to experience being a farmer, I would recommend you to stay in Tou Cheng Farm. The owner is a very tough lady whom we referred as “zhuo mama”. She is a retired teacher and she has published a few books on ecology for the joint project with schools. They also provide excursion projects for the Taiwan primary and secondary schools where the children learn to plant rice in the paddy field, harvest fruits and take care of farm animals. They have more than 110 hectare land planted with Makino bamboos and all kind of flora and fruits. In the morning you may watch the sunrise at the hill top overlooking the turtle island at the Pacific Ocean. The mouth-watering local country cuisines and Taiwanese courses at the restaurant is one of the main reasons why I revisited Tou Cheng Farm.
Forest Blockhouse Yilan Homestay is a certified organic farm that offers amateur farming and creative activities such as Dr tree and fish feeding with milk bottle. Dr. tree is a technique of checking the health of the tree by listening through a stethoscope. The fish feeding session was absolutely fun and exciting as it is not as easy as feeding a baby. The fish kept pull the bottle away with each bite and if you do not hold it strong enough the bottle will fall off under the fish attack. The environment in the homestay is like a fairy tale land. You must try out their healthy steamboat with Mulberry paste. Making Mulberry and making leather bracelet are some of the fun activities in Forest Blockhouse Yilan.
Luodong night market is not far away from Forest Blockhouse. I like the sweet dumping soup and the green onion pancake at the night market. This is a very well managed night market that draws a lot of traffic. Besides food, you may also find a lot of locally made souvenirs and fashion house.
Jiaosi Hot spring is very famous in Taiwan although it is very rare to have hot spring in flatland, the water of Jiaosi hot spring is crystal clear and is odourless, and was claim to contain many different kinds of minerals. And I like the fine and smooth feeling on my skin after the hot spring bath. If you don’t like to have a hot spring bath, you may also enjoy a free hot spring foot soaking at the “Tang Wei Gou” park or at the small hot spring pavilion outside the Jiaosi railway station.
If you love culture and arts, the National Centre for Traditional Arts is a place you should not miss.
You will find lots of artists from different genres to display their creative work in the centre. There are also some interesting opera or elegant music performances on the stage. Inside the centre there is a nice traditional courtyard house that was re located from the Yilan city to the present location. You may also find traditional local food here.
Green Fair in Yilan is a floral festival held from March to May. The decoration in the fair was so amazing that I was got so carried away. Through exhibition, performance and all the recreational activities Green Fair promotes the awareness of health, environment conservation and lifestyle to the people. It has successfully attracted over millions of visitors for years.
Turtle Island is located in the the Pacific Ocean. Due to the north bound “black tide” warm current that passes through here all year long, it harbours an abundance of marine life around the island. The migration of marine life here has attracted the whales and dolphins to feed here. Hence, Turtle Island became a popular vista point for whale and dolphin watching. However, it depends on your luck, I have waited for more than an hour and I only managed to spot one, very very far away. While another friend was lucky enough to watch a group of dolphins jumping in and out the water dancing around their boat!