Lazy days on Penghu Island
By Emma Harries, Special to The China Post
March 19, 2009, 9:26 am TWN
A short trip to Penghu (澎湖) last year was somewhat dampened by the remnants of a typhoon that drenched us with rain throughout the stay. Nevertheless the trip definitely "wetted" my appetite for Penghu and this year we decided to return for a ten-day trip, aiming to relax and little else.
Most of the tourist hotels are in Ma Gong (馬公), the main city, but we chose to stay in a small B&B in Guo Ye (菓葉) village on the east coast of the main island. "Guo Ye Sunrise" is run by Jan and Sylvia and their daughters and makes for a very comfortable place to hang out.
They are fluent in English and happy to help suggest places to visit. Jan is a windsurfing expert so you can arrange a variety of activities through the hotel such as kayaking, cycling and windsurfing.
The village of Guo Ye is famous for its sunrises and has a platform to rest on while witnessing the sunrise for those folks who choose to be up before dawn on their holidays. I'm afraid to say that certainly doesn't include me but I do recommend heading for Hsi Yu (西嶼) lighthouse for sunset, which is simply stunning.
The hotel is located on the main cycle path running along the coastline, so any number of deserted, white sand beaches are just a short drive away. Driving a scooter is essential on Penghu but like everything else, it is a much more relaxed experience than in Taiwan itself.
The roads have little traffic and it's easy to see why many local residents prefer to ignore the helmet law and enjoy the breeze. I found the opportunity to drive along an empty open road in the sunshine truly joyful.
The archipelago of islands is linked by bridges, including a 2.5 kilometer trans-ocean bridge so it is surprisingly easy to rack up the mileage just driving round and exploring. We came across an amazing number of ornate temples and historic houses built with the aid of chunks of coral. My favurite spot is Er Kan village, on Hsi Yu Island. Er Kan (二崁)is a village of traditional houses, dating back around a hundred years and now well-maintained for the benefit of tourists.