Some of the best travel experiences may come as a surprise, when one does not know quite what to expect. My encounter with the Kaomei (高美) Wetlands, near Taichung (台中), came as just such an experience.
Despite its size – in terms of population it's one of Taiwan's ten largest cities – and economic importance, Changhua (彰化) isn't a leading tourist destinations.
Lugang (鹿港) in Central Taiwan is rightly known for its traditional architecture and stunning temples. Most of its inhabitants, of course, live thoroughly modern lifestyles, and the township has its share of factories.
A chilly breeze from off the coast swept through the streets of the small town, but the sky was still blue with only a few wispy clouds in it. Located just an hour from Taichung and about three hours from Taipei, the quaint town of Lugang (鹿港) makes a good destination for a winter day trip, both because of its historical sites and because of its cheap, delectable cuisine.
Changhua's Great Buddha Statue may well be Baguashan's (八卦山) most famous attraction, but by no means could it be counted as the area's only interesting site.
Baguashan (八卦山) is a great mass of hills and valleys that covers 22,000 hectares of west central Taiwan. To see everything it has to offer would take months; the more places you visit, the more you realize just how much there is left to see.
From the top of Baguashan﹝八卦山﹞, about 30 minutes south of Taichung, a huge statue of the Buddha watches over Changhua﹝彰化﹞ City. The black statue, visible above the many downtown high-rise buildings, is truly magnificent.
As I followed the jostling crowd through the winding alleys of an old market street in Lukang (鹿港), centuries of history suddenly enveloped me from all sides. Carved doorways and windows, intricately designed arches over the main entrance, thin brick walls and red tiled road -- all speak of an era gone by when art and architecture blended seamlessly to create beautiful masterpieces.
Over the past several years, especially since Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization in 2002, local farmers have been forced to diversify in order to survive. Instead of growing rice, fruit or vegetables in the traditional manner, some now cultivate flowers or organic foods. Others think tourism is the way forward, and have turned their fields into leisure farms.