A three-day trip to Yilan

Went to Yilan, Taiwan on November 13, 2010

Our research group CCMA had a 3-day trip to Yilan, a town at the east coast of Taiwan. We left on Friday morning from ITRI. The purpose of this trip was to have some fun. A lot of interesting events were planned for all three days of our journey.

First, we went to Turtle Island which was formed by a volcano. It is still kind of active, but of course without ashes and smoke. But the water near the island has light blue color because there is lots of sulfureted hydrogen AKA rotten eggs gas. The island was used as a fortress during wars, pretty much the same as Suomenlinna in Helsinki. However, because of volcano the people were evacuated from Turtle Island, so you can see the abandoned homes, schools, etc.

Then we had a gorgeous sea-food lunch. It was a traditional Taiwanese style lunch when people share lots of dishes. They sit around a big table, typically as many as 10 people. Because of that, when the dish arrives you only have a chance to grab a couple of pieces of seafood. The good news is that there are lots and lots of dishes served, as many as 20 dishes. Such a dinner takes a couple of hours. This gives you enough time to get saturated with seafood. The dishes served are so diverse тАУ this includes several varieties of soups, crabs, lobsters, fish, and oysters!

After the lunch we went to Kavalan Whiskey Distillery, a famous Taiwanese brand of whiskey. We had a chance to taste whiskey and buy a few bottles. Then finally we went to Yilan. Our hotel was located in Luna Plaza, a big shopping center with a hotel on its upper floors. In the evening we have visited several shops. I liked a shop selling various puzzles, from simple ones for children to puzzles having as many as 5,000 pieces.

On the next day we went to Mt. Makau. Its height is 1,600m. I was told that this mountain is not the tallest one, there is another mountain which height is nearly 4km. The tour buses dropped us at the foundation of the mountain. Then we got on small buses which maneuvered quickly to the top of the mountain. There were lots of clouds above 1 km. This mountain is famous for the cypress tree, a particular kind of it which grows only on Taiwan. These trees are very old, they are dating back to B. C. era.

A residence of Chiang Kai-shek is located near this mountain. We have visited formers ROC president╩╝s house. After walking in this forest we went back to hotel. In the evening we visited local night market.

On Sunday we had various meetings. In the afternoon we went to National Center for Traditional Arts located in Luodong. You can get lots of beautiful things there. Unfortunately, I spent almost all money before reaching this center. In particular, I bought a coffee maker in Luna Plaza (actually very cheap, only 300 NT dollars = 10 USD) as well as few puzzles in that amazing puzzle shop. Anyway, in the center there are lots of small studios where craftsmen do their magic. You can watch them or buy the products that they have made. There are smaller items that cost less than 100 NT dollars and there are bigger items that cost a hundred thousand NT dollars. In other word, there is a great choice of gifts! You can get things such as glass statues, whistles, things made of cardboard, wood, beautiful china vases, and many many other things. This is such a must-visit place!

Then in the evening we had another gorgeous seafood dinner in Keelung. This city has very big seaport. It resembles Helsinki because of that. Then we arrived back to ITRI. I enjoyed this trip a lot. It gave me an opportunity to see eastern coast of Taiwan. I was told that I should visit Hualien, I saw lots of beautiful pictures of this area. Another thing that I found very surprising was the 10-km tunnel through a mountain near Pinglin. I know from the previous bike trip that riding mountain takes lots of strength and time and you need to watch your way. Riding in a tunnel is like a breeze тАУ you only need to push the accelerator. I guess this tunnel is one of the longest in Taiwan.

I have visited many places in Taiwan but somehow I feel that I want to visit them again. Each place is very unique and interesting!