Sunday, May 13, 2012

Different Ways Touring Sun Moon Lake -- Boat Ride and Firefly Watching

     A couple of our friends who live in Taipei invited us to take a bicycle ride around Sun Moon Lake just four days prior to our departure day back to the States. They heard that the bicycle trail around Sun Moon Lake was rated as one of the 10 best bicycle trails in the world by CNNGO. They were very interested in riding  this trail and it was also a great opportunity for them to escape their routine life in Taipei and be with friends. So I planed this trip one month ahead of time booking one night at a bed and breakfast for four of us since it became a very popular destination for Chinese tourists. 
The view was taken from Meihe Garden looking at Cien Pagoda
and Xuanzang Temple

     When it was time for us to visit Sun Moon Lake, the weather was not cooperating with us. It rained for several days. My husband and I decided not to take our bicycles with us because our bicycles would get wet in the rain. We planed to meet our friends on the roadside after getting off of Freeway 6 at the Sun Moon Lake Exit. It was scheduled around 10:30 AM. 
     Our first stop was Shueishe village which was the main location  for all the public transportation and also the most popular place for tourists. Hotels, b&bs, and business were concentrated in this area. Also most residents here were Han people. We parked our vehicles at the free public parking lot and got ready to visit the most expensive hotels in Taiwan.  
We walked on the trail by Church of Christ to the most expensive
This front view of Church of Christ which
was built by Chiang Kaishek and his wife.  
     We arrived at the most expensive hotel which was the Wen Wan Resort in Taiwan. It was a BOT project, ( Build, Operate, and Transfer. The government releases its land to the private firm to build and operate the hotel for a fixed number of years. After the contract is end, the private firm gives the hotel to the government. But, the government released its most precious lands to private firms at a very cheap price and private firms charges their customers at very high price.
      The resort was built on the site of Chiang Kaishek old house which was destroyed by the 921 earthquake.  The cost of constructing this hotel was NT$ 2 billions (almost US$170 millions.) At first, when the hotel was open, its cheapest room rate was US$1,000 per night. Now, the price was dropped less than US$ 700 per night on its website. It has only 92 rooms. 
This walkway led us to the backyard of the hotel.
Visitors who were not hotel guests were welcome
to take a walk. 
The view looking at Wenwu Temple was taken from behind the hotel.
The resort boasted that the entire mass was plated
with 15 kg of 24K gold leaf. It is now listed in Guinness
 World Records. The shape of the sailboat matched
Sun Moon Lake scenery which means the resort was
sailing on the lake. It also symbolizes the resort
business is just like the sailboat gains smooth wind to
generate good fortune.    
We walked inside the hotel lobby. Our first sight
was this big glass art work. It is called 9 dragons
fighting for a pearl, a symbol of good luck and
power.  It is the world largest glass work which
broke the Guinness World Records. 
The resort also built this sky deck on the 11 floor.
I was lucky to visit this site for free when taking
my tour guide training class. The admission fee is
NT$ 400 per person.
Remember Chiang Kaishek always chose the best Fengshui for 
his houses. The resort also entitled the best Fengshui theory since
it was built base on Chiang' house site. It formed a 
two-dragon-fighting-for-a-pearl phenomena in the Fengshui theory. 
The islet on this picture is called Lalu which is a sacred place 
for the Thao tribe. It also represents a pearl. There are two mountain 
ranges which are seen as two dragons. The view was definitely gorgeous 
despite the Fengshui reason.  But visitors have to pay money to see
the view.   
The sky deck is 600 meters tall. People walking on the walkway
suddenly became very small. 
     After visiting the resort, we moved to the next resort the Lalu which was built early than the Wen Wan resort. It was also built on the old Chiang Kaishek house. It was the second expensive resort in Sun Moon Lake area. The price for two people was around US$600 per night.    
This view was taking from the Lalu's Mirror Pool. The pool and the
lake integrated together a new look which has attracted many
visitors' eyes and gave visitors a peaceful mind.
When it first opened, some people walked into
the pool because they didn't realize it was a pool.
Anyway, I personally like its tranquility. 
This was a public museum dedicated to Chiang Kaishek which was next
to the Lalu. 
Most pictures were about Chiang Kaishek and his wife
presence at Sun Moon Lake.  
It was lunch time. There was an Italian restaurant called "February"
between Church of Christ and the parking lot. It was the only one
western style restaurant (not considering restaurants in the resorts)
in this village and the aboriginal village.  
These were our meals.
This travel book specialized in Nantou County area introduced the
restaurant chef who was also the owner. Our friends insisted on my
husband taking a picture with her with the book. So.... 
We took a walk along the cluster of business along the street. There were a lot
of Chinese tourists arriving at the Shuishe wharf to take a boat
ride. It was one of the top spots that Chinese tourists must visit
which drives hotel rooms' prices up. 
Bus schedule information was posted at the  Shueishe
Tourist Service Center. Visitors could rent a Giant
bicycle on the ground floor of the center.    
Sun Moon Lake Map was next to the bus schedule. 
     We left Shueishe village and drove to Ita Thao which was the aboriginal village. We would stay there for one night. 
 This view was taking from our B&B Although it was not
a high end resort, its view was fantastic. We could see the Wen 
Wan Resort across the lake with less money to enjoy the beautiful 
The only bad part of our B&B was there was no elevators to take 
its customers to their rooms. Fortunately, we only had to climb up 
2 floors to our rooms with light bags; however, if its customers had
 a heavy bag, the B&B employees would give them helpful hands. 
The first floor and the second floor were its restaurant area.   
The view of Wenwu Temple from the lake.
We signed up for the package deal at our B&B place. It came with
2 tickets for a boat ride, 2 supper, and 2 breakfast. This afternoon
we decided to take the 4 pm boat ride and would go for the bicycle
ride the day after since the weather was not really clearing up that 

Taking the boat ride was totally a different and new experience
to me. The scenery was varied from the lake to the land. Some
were hidden in a very remote area which was not easy to spot.
 This pavilion was on the end of the Hanbi trail which was 1.5 KM
from the trail head. 
This was the aboriginal traditional fishing method. They used
lights at night to attract the
 fish and then they would raise their 
net to catch the fish. 
This was the aboriginal scarce place, called the Lalu islet. It was
damaged by the 921 earthquake. After the earthquake,
the islet did not allowed people except Thao tribe to walk on it.   
Our destination was to stop at the Syuanguang Temple for 20 
minutes then back to the aboriginal village. 
The most famous thing at Syuanguang Temple was not the temple
itself but was the so called A-Po-tea-leaf-egg. A-Po means an old
lady who sold the tea-leaf eggs. There was a story between the old
lady and Chiang Chingkao, the son of Chiang Kaishek. Chiang gave
her the obligation right to do the business in the National Scenic
 Area until she passes away; But her descendants won't be entitle the
right to do so. Most Chinese tourists arrived on the wharf would
buy an egg to taste its flavor.   
This was the famous egg. The old lady could make NT$ 20,000-
40,000 per day just by selling eggs. Her one day earning could
pay for her entire year of rent and tax.
Most Chinese tourists like to take pictures with a giant rock with
the inscription of the name of the place. A couple years ago, some
Chinese tourists fought over cutting lines for picture taking.
Therefore, Taiwan Tourist Bureau placed more stone inscription
 tablets on scenic spots and asked tour guides to promote
the proper etiquette for standing in lines. This picture illustrated
Chinese tourists stood in line for taking pictures.
There were two regular commuter boat routes from Shueishe wharf
and Ita Thao (aboriginal village) to Syuanguang Temple. The round
trip ticket from aboriginal village is NT$300 per person.  
The sun broke through the cloud and shined on the lake. We
 hoped it won't rain the next day and 
kept our fingers cross
We met this french couple who had traveled around the world for
6-7months. They told us that Taiwanese were the most friendly
people that they had ever met during their travel. I called my friend
who lived in the village to find hotel information in Kaoshiung for
them. He did a better job than I expected. He printed the information
out and tried to located us and gave it in person to the couple.
It was a good day. 
These were our super for four people.It was more than enough
for  4 of us. 
What is this? If you watch carefully, you could see some tiny
spots on this photos.  There are fireflies. It is the firefly season
in April to May in Sun Moon Lake. We took our red flashligh
walking on a wooden and forest-like trail at night. It was a little
bit scary. I worried about snakes hanging on the tree branches
and looking at us. It might attack us at any time. Actually, the
night was nice. Frogs and other unknown creatures were singing
songs and fireflies were flying around us. It was a natural 

symphony that we enjoyed a lot.   
Although Taiwan is a small island, we haven't seen our friends
for almost 3 years. They were excited for this trip and wanted
to use their maximum most enjoyment from two day vacation.
We found out there was a stamp collection activity sponsored
 by the scenic administration office. Visitors collected any five
stamps from different hiking trails around the area could win a
prize. So we were dragged to participate in this activity at 

night to search stamps on walking trails.   
While they were collecting the stamps, I was enjoying taking
 night photos without a tripod. This was the first time I wondered
around this area. It was beautiful and really tranquil night.  
This was taken on the Hanbi trail below the Lalu. It used to
be Chiang Kaishek private pier. Now it belongs to the Lalu.
The night shoot view of Shueishe wharf 
After we collected 4 stamps, we went back to our friend's room
and had a bottle of good plum wine. Our friend kept studying
where would be the final trail for collecting the final stamp the
next day.
     I made this video clip with the natural sounds which I recorded when we went out for the firefly watching at night. I hope you will enjoy it. 

Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area:
B&B in Chinese:


  1. “Taking the boat ride was totally a different and new experience to me. The scenery was varied from the lake to the land. Some were hidden in a very remote area which was not easy to spot.” Good thing you were able to try it! Boat riding is indeed a fun experience, but caution should still be observed at all times. By the way, it was really fun seeing and reading about all your travel experiences. Cheers to more adventures for you! :)

    Lilia Dyal

  2. Boat ride is such a great experience that I wanted to try. Thank you for the travel idea I am looking forward for the next tour place.


  3. Taiwan is very beautiful and it is now easily accessible to everyone today. I love to go to a boat tour here. The scenery is breathtaking and the food in Taipei is a must-try. It is something to be tried just like the corryvreckan cruising which is still part of my list.


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