Friday, October 23, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Taitung 台东 - Mr Brown Avenue / Brown's Road 伯朗大道

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: Mr Brown Avenue, Chishang Township, Taitung Country 958, Taiwan 台东县池上乡伯朗大道

After a quick snack at Donghe Baozi 东河包子, we headed off to visit Mr Brown Avenue 伯朗大道 next.

Mr Brown Avenue / Brown's Road 伯朗大道

Located in Chishang Township of Taiting Country, you will find a small country avenue known as the "green road of paradise." The attraction consists of a vast rice paddies fields set against a magnificent mountain backdrop, which becomes widely popular due to a commercial of Mr Brown Coffee. In recent years, this green road of paradise is better known as "Mr Brown Avenue" (also known as Mr Brown Road or Mr Brown Boulevard) since the area was made famous by the commercial.

To maintain smooth and safe traffic condition during busy farming season, Mr Brown Avenue have been closed to non-agricultural vehicles for an entire year. No vehicles (except bicycle) are allowed to drive into the restricted area in order to maintain traffic safety in the scenic area.

Cycling is probably the best way to explore the scenic site, and no visitors should leave without experiencing the country's world famous bike culture. Bicycle rentals are available at many locations, making it extremely convenient for visitors to explore the area on their own. 

We rented four bicycles at TWD 100/day each from a rental shop near the entrance to the scenic area. 

We arrived around noon and it was surprisingly not crowded at all. The entire scenic area was huge and spread out, so even with crowds,  you will never feel overly crowded.

After taking some photos, we mounted the bicycle and began to pedal down the road.

Pedaling down the road, we began to seeing endless fields of brilliant green. The view was amazingly beautiful and the roads are straight, smooth and well-paved. You certainly do not have to worry about traffic as no vehicles are allowed to enter the scenic area.

The scenery along the path was breathtaking and idyllic. Emerald green rice paddies and lush mountains surround us in every direction. This is truly a green road of paradise.

It was a cloudy gloomy day when we visited. The sky was really dark and we were worried that it was going to rain at any time. But luckily, it did not, or else we will be drenched as there was absolutely no shelter around. 

The main planting area is made up of rice paddies crisscrossed by narrow roads with no telephones or electric poles. Everywhere we look, it was endless green fields. There was very few structures around. Only vast green fields. 

Thus, we were able to enjoy an unobstructed view of the green paddies field while the farmers work in the fields.

Continuing further in, we came upon the iconic and most famous tree in Chishang Township. The tree was made famous in a 2013 Eva Airlines television commercial starring the famous Taiwanese actor, Takeshi Kaneshiro riding a bicycle along the rural road through the rice paddies field before sitting under a tree to sip on a cup of tea.

The commercial resulted in large number of visitors flocking to the site daily just to take a photograph with the tree, which has become known as the Takeshi Kaneshiro's tree 金城武树.

Unfortunately, the famous tree was uprooted by Typhoon Matmo, which left it laying by the side of the road. The tree was immediately replanted after the storm blew past, but is set to take another four to five years to fully recover.

It was not a surprise to see lots of tourists (mostly from Mainland China) gather around the tree, eager to snap some keepsake photo for their trip to Mr Brown Avenue. We did not join in the crowds just to take photo with a tree. There was nothing really special about it, so it was not worth our time to do that at all.

We continued our ride through the rice paddies of the countryside while the breeze ripples through our clothes. It was a very peaceful, calming and relaxing experience.

Surrounded by an untouched natural environment, this is an ideal place to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Mr Brown Avenue can be visited any time of the year. However, the best time to visit is during the harvest seasons when the fields turned golden yellow. 

There are two rice harvests per year in Chishang Township. The first one is in Summer, in late June or early July and the second is in the fall of early November. 

It was a windy day. The wind was blowing strong. We pedaled hard against the gusting winds, stopping occasionally for the plenty of opportunities along the way.

I love the fresh smell of the earth in the air. Take a deep breathe and take in the fragrance of the fresh, clean air. This is a place where one can enjoy a slower pace of life and get closer to nature.

The green rice paddy fields provide a picture perfect backdrop for photo taking. Most photo enthusiasts would love the amazing photo opportunities everywhere.

The entire area is clean and trash free, which was very appealing. So, please remember to bring your trash with you before you leave.

Mr Brown Avenue offers an incredibly picturesque ride that should not be missed. The countryside scenery is beautiful and peaceful.

Mr Brown Avenue is perhaps my favorite place I have visited in Taiwan so far. This is just the perfect place for anyone who wish to enjoy peace and nature.

The scenery is awesomely beautiful. You will find beauty in every direction - the lush mountains and vast green rice fields. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture some breathtaking photos and be amazed by the beautiful landscape. This is definitely a must-see destination for those visiting the East Rift Valley in Taiwan.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Taitung 台东 - Donghe Baozi 东河包子

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: No. 420, Nandonghe, Donghe Village, Donghe Township, Taitung, Taiwan 台东县东河乡南东河420号

Feeling hungry after a visit to Terrace of The Three Immortals / Sanxiantai 三仙台风景区, we dropped into a famous local Baozi shop named Donghe Baozi 东河包子 for a quick snack just to hold us over until lunch time.

There is the only one Donghe Baozi shop in entire Taiwan. The shop does not have any separate branches, so make sure you visit the right one located on the main road, opposite of 7-Eleven in Donghe Village, Taitung.

Upon entering, we were delighted that the shop was not crowded with tourists. There was no queue in the shop, so we did not have to wait too long for our order.

The menu offers 5 different flavors Bao for patrons to choose from - Meat Bao 肉包, Suan Cai (Sour Vegetables) Bao 酸菜包, Bamboo Shoot Bao 竹笋包, Red Bean Bao 红豆包 and Peanut Bao 花生包

We got one of each bao to try and all of them were delightfully flavourful. The bao are soft, puffy and does not stick to the teeth. Each of it was served fresh and hot from the steamer, which warms the mouth with every bite.

It was great that the bao were also a good size with generous portion of filling inside. 
I actually found all of the bao good, but not exceptionally delicious. Among the 5, I like the Meat Bao the most. 

Other than Bao, the menu also offers 2 soups - Meat Ball Soup 贡丸汤 and Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup 苦瓜排骨汤. Knowing that we have to try the soups as well, we ordered both of the Meat Ball and Bitter Gourd Pork Ribs Soup along with Bao. However, the soups did not turn out to be as delicious as we expected it to be.

There are many reasons to travel. Food is obviously, one of them! Donghe Baozi is undoubtedly one of the must-try food when you are visiting Taitung in Taiwan.

The prices were reasonable, especially given the generous portion size. They were as big as my palm and even though the bao were not incredibly unique or tasty, I would still recommend anyone visiting Taitung to try them out. Donghe Baozi is definitely worth a try!

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Taitung 台东 - Terrace of The Three Immortals / Sanxiantai 三仙台风景区

Photo By: Elin Chow
Address: No. 74, Jihui Rd, Sanxian Village, Chenggong Township, Taitung Country 台东县成功镇三仙里基翚路74号

Leaving Taitung Little Yeliu / Xiaoyeliu 台东小野柳, we got in the car and set off for our next destination of the day - Terrace of The Three Immortals / Sanxiantai 三仙台风景区.

Terrace of Three Immortals 三仙台风景区

Located 3km northeast of Chenggong Township in Taitung Country, Terrace of Three Immortals ( also known as Sanxiantai or Sansiantai) is one of the most famous scenic spot in the east coast of Taiwan.

Sansiantai is a small offshore land composed of volcanic rock. The island was once connected to the mainland by a neck of land to the rest of Taiwan. However, gradual erosion had cut the neck that connected the island to the mainland, and thus becomes offshore island.

The island is named after the legend that tells three famous immortals - Lu Tung Pin, Iron Crutch Li and He Xiangu, who once came to take a rest in this area, leaving three footprints behind . The three gigantic rocks found on the offshore island are said to represent the footprints left behind by the three immortals.

Admission Fee

Admission to the attraction is free, but you will be required to pay for car parking. Daily parking fees are as per below.

Type of Vehicle
Weekends & Public Holidays
TWD 40
TWD 50
TWD 15
TWD 20

There are plenty of parking spaces available, so you would not need to worry about where to park your car if you are driving your way there. 

Located next to the parking area, you will find the Sanxiantai Visitor Center. The visitor center features an exhibition hall where visitors will get to learn more about the island. This might be a a good place to start before you head off exploring the scenic area.

There are also plenty of shops selling food, drinks and some usual tourist souvenirs around the visitor center.

Near the entrance, we were attracted by an aboriginal man singing some of the popular Chinese and Taiwanese songs. I wanted to approach the aboriginal man to ask him to take a photograph with me. But unfortunately, I was too shy to do that.

We headed onto a stone-paved pathway leading to the Pebble Beach. Unlike the usual sandy beaches, the Pebble Beach is a beach made entirely out of stone pebbles of varying size instead of sand.

The beach stretches 10 km in length and the size of the pebbles vary from pint-sized to fist sized. It was not easy to walk across the beach without having our feet digging into the pebbles. However, the good thing is that we do not have to worry about getting sand in our shoes.

Most of the pebbles have a very smooth and rounded appearance, which makes the walk down to the pebbly coast a little less painful.  Please wear comfortable walking shoes when you visit the beach. Visiting in slippers or heels is definitely not recommended.

Sansiantai welcomes about a million visitors every year. However, the law prohibits visitors from taking any of the pebbles at Sansiantai. Just imagine what will happen if each one of them took a pebble away. If that really happens, I believe the scenic beach would just vanish in a few years!

So, remember to take nothing with you but pictures. I believe everyone of us have a part to play in protecting and preserving the beauty of our nature environment.

Walking further in, we arrived at a stretch of pebbly coast facing the Pacific Ocean. However, the area around the coastline is unfortunately, not accessible by wheelchair or baby stroller. So it might be impossible for people with disabilities to visit or explore the coast area.

From the beach, you will be able to see the Sanxiantai island in the distance. The three gigantic rocks are the most prominent feature of the island, with the highest standing at 77 meters in height.

It was a gloomy day when we visited. We were unable to see the mountains from afar as they were shrouded in thick layers of clouds and mist.

The uninhabited Sanxiantai island is connected to the rest of Taiwan by a 320 metres long eight cross-sea arch bridge. In the past, visitors without a boat wishing to visit the island would have to wait till low tide to wade over. To improve accessibility to the island, the bridge is built and completed in 1987 to connect the offshore island with the mainland.

Designed in the shape of the waves, which resembles a prostrate sea dragon, the visually striking bridge is currently one of the most famous landmark on the East Coast of Taiwan.

Unlike Xiaoyeliu, Sianxiantai was much more crowded with tourists, mainly from mainland China.

However, being remotely situated in Taitung, the place was never overwhelmed with visitors. I doubt it will ever be crowded given its remote location.

The beach is seemingly clean and almost litter-free, which was very appealing. So, please remember to bring all your trash with you before you leave this place. 

The unspoiled beach provides plenty of photo opportunities against the stunning backdrop of the rocky coast.We enjoyed uninterrupted time taking plenty of photos around the area.

Leaving the pebble filled beach, we followed a stone-paved pathway leading to the eight arch bridge.

Visitors have to cross the bridge in order to reach the uninhabited and isolated Sanxiantai island.

From the top of the bridge, we get to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the rocky coast with awe-inspiring mountains and cliff sides in the background. A truly breathtaking sight!

We stood silently on the bridge, admiring the endless ocean view while the strong and cooling ocean wind blows our hair wildly in every direction. It felt so peaceful listening to the sound of waves crashing against the rocky coastline.

Of course, this was also a fantastic spot for us to snap some tourist photos. 

Due to lack of human disturbance, the island is surrounded by spectacular coral reefs, which boasts an abundance of marine life. There is a wooden boardwalk that goes around the island. At leisurely pace, island trail takes about 2 hours to complete.

The bridge has many arches, making it tiring and challenging to climb. It was a pity that we did not climb our way to the end of the bridge. No matter how much I wanted to, my husband and his family were not interested in visiting the island. Since none of them was interested, I had to drop the idea of exploring the island too.

Instead, we spent most of our time taking photos and admiring the spectacular view from the top of the bridge before making our way back to the parking lot.

Sanxiantai is declared as a nature reserve by the Taiwanese government. Most of the area around Sanxiantai remains quiet, uncrowded and unspoiled, perfect to unwind and relax.

We spent about 2 hours walking, exploring and taking photos around the area. I would recommend anyone to set aside at least 4 hours if you wish to explore Sanxiantai Island.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan!