Saturday, October 25, 2008

Daxi and Fuxing

A group of us went to Daxi and Fuxing last Sunday just for the heck of was a wonderful day that none of us had really planned in advance ("Where are we going?" my sister asked when we got to the train station. "And have you got any aspirin?") and a day trip that none of us had considered before. It seemed too far away to get there and back in a day. How wrong we were.

It's quite easy to go - the only confusion came after exiting Taoyuan train station. The Rough Guide says the bus stop is behind the station, after using an underpass to cross beneath the tracks. It makes it sound like the underpass is right next to the station. It's not. It's a tiny, barely-noticeable entrance in front of the station near the McDonald's.

On the other side there was a whole SE Asian neighborhood - Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino and Thai stores lined the streets. Definitely worth exploring someday. The food is probably great. We thought we heard a mosque chanting out the azaan but no - it was a karaoke bar, up and running at 9am.

We spent more time than planned in Daxi - famous for its dou gan (dried tofu which is pretty darn good) and old shophouses. So far, this Old Street and Sanxia's are the only two that have really impressed me in the Taipei area, though I do love Dihua Street and do all my dried goods, tea and fabric shopping there. The bus often lets you off right in front of it - it meanders to the side of the big white gate on the north end of town.

There is a direct Taipei-Daxi bus but it runs pretty rarely. It makes more sense to take the train to Taoyuan and catch it from there.

Some photos:

Apparently this torridness is HOT. (That character is re - the Chinese word for hot).

Me and Brendan in Daxi

More Architecture from Daxi

Becca (my sis) with Adorable Dog

Delicious tofu

We then hopped another bus (heading back to the gate from the old street and walking south to the other end of the main boulevard, where the bus station is located). We considered stopping at Cihu, Ultimately we took a pass.

Fuxing was quite pretty, if not as majestic as the scenery on the Central Cross-Island Highway (still my favorite). We did the touristy thing and relaxed in the Youth Center coffeeshop before walking down to the water and crossing the suspension bridge.

The coffeeshop/pub lauded in Rough Guide is now inaccessible from the way we tried. There was a landslide obstructing the path from the end before the bridge. The same path is accessible from the other side of the bridge if you head left and up the hill, turning right on the trailhead past the resthouse offering shaved ice and drinks, but I don't know if the R.G. place is still in business seeing as there's no short trail. Hopefully a new one will be cut soon.

Some notes about the town:

- I don't know what's up with Grand Mushroom Boulevard. Any thoughts?
- Fuxing seems to close down completely by 7pm. The aboriginal restaurant where we ate was one of the few places still open when we caught the bus at 7:30.
- Very good aboriginal food, though it's the Chinese influenced kind (as all of it seems to be). We had delicious mountain pig, snails, freshwater shrimp and vegetables at a restaurant near the Youth Center entrance - the one with the nicest decoration. The owner is a bit fuzzyheaded but very, very nice. His sentences blend together in odd ways. We got a Foreigner Discount, though, so it's all good.

The View from the Coffeeshop - definitely worth an expensive latte or three

The Suspension Bridge - which is mighty scary when it's windy, if you're clumsy like moi

Welcome To The Great Mushroom Boulevard, it says.


Sunset Begins

Delicious Mountain Pig

Sunset Continues

Heejin with Another Adorable Dog

We had hoped to continue up to Xiao Wulai that day but sadly, it was not meant to be. There isn't enough time for all three unless you're on the train by 6am.

On the way back, try to get the driver to take you all the way to Taoyuan train station. It is certainly feasible to do, and yet our driver refused to do it. It's not a long walk, but not a short one either after you've been walking around a lake and up a hill all day.

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