My weekends in Taiwan are beginning to thin out. I have started to form mental lists of what needs to be done when I get home and the anticipated stresses of what awaits me are trying to distract me from the joy of being here. Despite our approaching departure date, I'm am making a contentious effort to suck in all of the green and beauty and freedom out of this island so I will remember it a little more clearly when I've landed in a desert in the middle of August. In addition to taking advantage good Taiwanese food, and eating every tropical fruit that customs won't let me pack home, we have been visiting ALL of the sights, and this weekend another got checked off the list.
The Taiwanese would always look slightly offended when they would find out we hadn't been to Sun Moon Lake. We knew little about the lake other than that's it's hugely popular with the locals and that it's apparently a grave sin not to go, especially after being on the island for 2 months, so... we went. My conclusion: Sun Moon Lake is definitely not worth the expense and travel time it takes to get there.
Chris and I spent seventy bones getting to and from the center of the island to see the lake, and I doubt it is the lake I will remember when I look back on this weekend. Instead I will remember the miserable day when we woke up at 4:45 a.m. to catch a bus (which we missed) and, finally made it home at 1:00 a.m. with a lot of uncomfortable travel in between.
Don't get me wrong, there were some nice sights in, but in the long run--not worth the time or the money. But point blank, I spent the time and the money, so I might as well cover the pros.
We traveled from Taipei to Taizhong (about 3 hours south), where we met up with Chris and Britton's mission friend. He organized for us to take a taxi to take us from Taizhong to Sun Moon Lake (an hour north). Our taxi driver made about 6 stops along the way. He wanted to make sure we saw everything going there. I would say it was generous of him but I think he was probably just trying to rack up our bill. This is what we saw along the way:
Tennis ball sized spider in a web large enough to tangle up a human. Maybe it's hoping to catch a bird.
Drum roll... the lake. Not much to do. We were hoping to swim, and I got kicked out for wading. The cop said it's a $2,000 fine for swimming. Joy kill. So, not much to do other than look. Wahoo.
We briefly visited a Buddhist temple. The grounds were covered in white rock. It created kind of a pure serenity.
This architectural wonder was the Sun Moon Lake Visitor center. We didn't even bother to go in. The main attraction was the building itself.
The hi-light of the trip for me was dinner back at Taizhong before heading to Taipei. Chris' mission friend, George and his awesome wife Helena made us a feast of a meal complete with roasted duck, homemade dumplings, soup, fruit, salad--the works.