SanFu Leisure Farm
After dinner, the entourage headed to SanFu Leisure Farm (82, Ln. 161, Xinliao 2nd Road, Zhongshan Village, Dongshan, Yilan) to spend the night.
Our arrival was welcomed by a local guide who took us on a night tour of the premises to meet the other residents. To my surprise, the residents that the guide referred to were not human but nocturnal bugs, frogs and snakes! It was quite the experience.
To complete this experience in the cradle of nature, in the morning, I woke up to bird calls and countless Striped Blue Crow Butterflies dancing around bushes. It’s truly surreal.
GuangShing Duck & Pig Leisure Farm
Departing SanFu, we arrived at GuangShing Duck & Pig Leisure Farm (12, Lane 132, Guanhua 3rd Road, Kelin Village, Dongshan, Yilan) for their specialty: not duck or pork but grilled bream fish raised in terrestrial spring water.
I could hardly hold the chopsticks after the first bite because my thumbs were perpetually up in approval.
Zhuo Ye Cottage
Our second night was spent at Zhuo Ye Cottage (1-2, Bengshanxia, Sanyi Township, Miaoli), an immensely charming micro-village with thick Sino-Japanese architectural flavours.
For a moment, I felt like I’d walked into a movie set instead of a ‘hotel’. Zhuo Ye’s period setting is great for photography while its educational tour on traditional dyeing processes with natural colourants such as onions, persimmon and lan cao (blue grass) highlights the owners’ dedication to preserve the cultural art form.
Hualu Flower Leisure Farm
For some serious flower power and healthy cuisines, we headed to Hualu Flower Leisure Farm (43-3, Xiping Village, Zhuolan Township, Miaoli). Neatly manicured with a wide variety of decorative as well as curative flora, one of Hualu’s key attractions lays hidden in the male restroom, where urinals are creatively shaped as a sunflower, slipper orchid or pitcher plant, among others!
Rollin Leisure Farm
Moving on from Miaoli, we arrived in Taichung where Rollin Leisure Farm (1, Xueshan Road, Zhongkeng Lane, Heping District, Taichung) calls home.
Here, we got a taste of harvesting gigantic pears before being whisked up a nearby mountain to where our accommodation awaited. Each room is decorated with an individual theme and offers a breath-taking aerial view of Taichung city.
Musinchuan Leisure Farm
Bidding an unwilling goodbye to Rollin Leisure Farm’s matronly ah ma who is a well-respected figure in the farming community, we stopped by Musinchuan Leisure Farm (60, Jhungsing Village, Sinse District, Taichung) to admire hillsides coated gold with a staggering bloom of day lilies and to enjoy the farm’s mouth-watering hotpot and bento sets created with the freshest ingredients.
Long Yun Holiday Farm
Our next farm is something of a showstopper, perched 1,700m above sea level on the slopes of the famous Alishan (Mount Ali). Long Yun Holiday Farm (Shizhuo No. 1, Zhinghe Village, Zhuqi Township, Chiayi) offers a cool respite into the ancient forestry of Alishan where clean air and tranquillity refreshes the senses.
As an added bonus, the farm’s highly-animated owner drove us to a prime spot to catch an awe-inspiring sunrise over the misty mountain ranges.
Fairy Lake Leisure Farm
The final stop in my whirlwind visit of Taiwan’s farm-stay destinations rests at Fairy Lake Leisure Farm (No. 6-2, Neighbour 1, Nanshi Neighbourhood, Tongshan Township, Tainan), a farm well-known for its thickly-fleshed, tiny-pitted lychees.
We donned the farmer’s hat and harvested these sweet globes before checking into our hillside cabins and checking out the beautiful sunset framed by lush mountains on the sides and Tainan County in the distant background, from the farm’s viewing deck.
A Great Escape
After spending about a week in Taiwan’s outback, we returned to Taipei and suddenly, city life felt like an intrusion. I missed the less frantic pace of life at the farms, the chance encounters with beautiful bugs and fragrant fields, listening to a choir of crickets while looking up at a heaven of stars, and improving health with exotic culinary delights almost direct from the soil to the stove.
A rural escapade with Taiwan farm-stays can make for an unforgettable holiday, except that getting to the farms can be a challenge as they are off the beaten track. When booking a stay, most farms provide pick-up services (separate charges apply) from the nearest train station.
CTC Travel offers farm-stay packages that include accommodation, transfers, meals and activities at great savings.
The Taiwanese themselves are flocking to these rustic destinations during the weekends and many of these farms are fully booked.
It is only a matter of time before the world wizens up and comes knocking at Taiwan’s unique farming communities!
Darren Ng is a travel blogger whose blog can be found at www.explorelah.blogspot.com
Some sources include: Shinny Chiu, Chief Operation Officer, International Marketing, Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association; go2taiwan.net/monthly_selection.php?sqno=22 and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Taiwan#Agriculture
This trip was made possible by CTC Travel.