I think most people are not very familiar with Hsin Chu (新竹). I saw it on Taiwan variety or travel programmes but it is not one of the places that came across my mind during my last 4 Taiwan trips.
Qiuling was the one who was more excited about Hsin Chu when we were planning our trip and I took it as a pinch of salt, as I know nothing about it but willing to explore new places. I wish one day I can visit all parts of Taiwan, at least once!
So what is there in Hsin Chu? It is a unique city which has both a rich history and also city life. We will be spending 2 nights in Hsin Chu (1 night in 内湾 old street and 1 night in 新竹市 city), so that we have a feel of both its 特色.
From this trip, I finally understand why most free and easy travelers prefer to tour the East coast of Taiwan. Though HSR stops at Chia Yi （嘉义）, Taichung（台中）and Hsin Chu （新竹）, it still takes another 1.5-2hrs just to travel up or down Alishan （阿里山）or Cingjing （清境）. Thus, most people either prefer to go Yilan （宜兰）and Hualien （花莲）or they will spend minimum 2-3 days each on Alishan and Cingjing to make the transport time spent worth it. Haha! We chose the latter this time round.
We woke up early this morning to watch the sunrise at 5.20am. It was beautiful though not as awesome as the one we saw at Alishan.
It was a long journey from Cingjing->Taichung->Hsin Chu->Nei Wan.
We set off from Cingjing （清境）at 10.30am via the shuttle bus (NT450/pax) arranged by our Minsu and only reached Taichung HSR station at 12.30pm. We were lucky we didn't have to wait very long before we get on the HSR (NT450/pax) at 1.01pm and headed towards to Hsin Chu station.
As we would be spending tonight at Nei Wan （内湾）, we had to walk over to Liu Jia TRA （六家）via the overhead bridge on the 2nd floor of Hsin Chu HSR station.
We travelled one stop via Liu Jia TRA station (NT34/pax) to Zhu Zhong TRA station （竹中）and changed to Nei Wan Line （内湾线）. I was really surprised when I entered the train from 竹中! Oh Gosh! The themed train was so cute!!! I super like it! It reminds me of the Hong Kong Disneyland train I took when Laogong brought me to Hong Kong last June.
It took us about 1hr from 2.10pm to 3.10pm to reach Nei Wan. It was drizzling when we reached but we were lucky that Wan Yue Minsu (弯月民宿）was not difficult to locate.
Our Minsu for tonight is nothing comparable to what we had for the previous two nights in Cingjing. And Cingjing is still one of the places I very much wish to revisit again (though this is already my second visit to Cingjing).Our room was a humble one with queen size bed and Aircon. This is my second time staying in a lodging with shared toilets/bathrooms, since my road trip in year 2005. Gosh! It has been ten years already! Time really flies! But it is still something I am willing to give it a try. After all, how many ten years do we have to experience life?
We were both very hungry by the time we reached Nei Wan as our last meal for the day was at 8.30am. Hence, we headed straight to the Hakka food eatery (NT260 for 2pax) on the ground floor of our Minsu. Yummy!!! Oh gosh! The food there was so nice and it was definitely not because we were hungry! Haha!
There were so many interesting shops and famous food stalls. We tried to shortlist what we wanted to try by going around stalls to stalls for "food tasting". Thanks to Qiuling, the thick-skinned food taster, we were very full after a few rounds of food tasting. Hahaha! However, I still get to ease my craving for 黑山猪香肠 (NT30) and Qiuling get to try the famous 野姜花 and airflown (from Penghu, 澎湖) 仙人掌果 ice cream (NT50 for 2 scoops)! Yum!
After filling our tummy, we decided to "hike" our way across the hanging bridge to the recommended 樱木花道 cafe.
The ambience in the cafe was very cosy and comfortable. The pricing of the drinks are very reasonable too. I will definitely come here to stay if the boss were to open a themed Minsu here too.
I was actually a bit disappointed when I didn't get to drink my 伯爵奶茶 (Earl Grey Milk Tea) in Cingjing. Hence, I was very excited and all hands supportive when I saw it on the menu. We each ordered our drinks (NT150 per pot for me) and sat around till 6.45pm or when they sky is slowly dimming before we set off back to our Minsu.
Greedy us decided to try out the vegetarian 卤味 (NT100) , which is not common in Singapore. We also had desserts like 仙草蜜与古早豆花 (with 红豆, 芋圆，粉圆etc) (NT95 for 2 bowls).
I noticed that most shops (other than night markets) in Taiwan were closed by 8.30pm, even in Sunmer. Wow, this shows how "work-life balance" Taiwaneses are. Because in Singapore, most shops (even on weekdays) would open until 9-9.30pm.
This 古早 themed toy and candy shop caught my eyes and I managed to buy some very nice gifts for Laogong and the kids :) Yay!!! Not posting the photos because it was meant to be a surprise for Laogong :P
As the shops are all closed by 8.30pm, we returned to the Minsu to rest and bath. Tomorrow is another long day for us as we will be visiting the Lavender farm in the morning, try the famous 野姜花肉粽 to "celebrate” 端午节 and then move to Hsin Chu City in the afternoon.
Stay tune for part 2 of Hsin Chu Fun!