We packed light and left one of the luggages at Westgate Hotel Taipei. Our engaged driver was punctual, she greeted us the moment we stepped out from our breakfast lounge. I was surprised that she could recognise me, just by an old profile picture of me in the Whatsapp.
She drove a Toyota Wish. Her car was very clean and she handed us a few bottles of drinking water the moment we settled down in the car. A nice gesture from her! We were glad that we got her as our driver, as after spending a few days with her, we loved her so much. She is very polite, friendly and loving towards young children. She helped us to entertain our kids, bought them small fun toys and souvenirs, treated us some local Taiwanese desserts, and walked around with us even at night, to make sure we are safe and comfortable. I would recommend her highly. But if you are travelling with young baby/toddler who requires a car seat, you have to bring your own. She does not provide a car seat. I did try to convince her to get one, but not a parent herself, she does not really understand the importance of having a child seat. Hopefully as she gets in touch with more young families, she will soon realise about the importance of this life-saving gear.
The drive from Taipei to Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) was about 3 hours. It was a scenic drive, especially as we approached Sun Moon Lake. Unlike Taipei, we had good sunny weather in Sun Moon Lake, Mr. Sun was shining bright all day long with some cool wind blowing on us. It was a perfect day! Upon arrival at our hotel, Harbour Resort Hotel (碼頭休閒大飯店), we dropped our luggages with the friendly concierge staff, we then headed straight to the harbour for a cruise. The harbour is right behind the hotel, hence the hotel's name.
The view of Harbour Resort Hotel from the Sun Moon Lake's harbour.
Kids were excited when they knew that we would be boarding the boat cruising the very remarkable Sun Moon Lake. The cruise was good with a fun tour guide who gave live commentary to tell us about the history of Sun Moon Lake. He showed us some interesting icons of Sun Moon Lake and gave a clear direction on heading to the gondola station to visit the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. It would be around 20 minutes walk from the harbour.
View from the boat.
We enjoyed the walk very much, strolling by shops selling local artistic craft and admiring the beautiful houses of the locals. We were glad to have brought a stroller along, if we were to carry Baby Bear even with a baby carrier, it would be a little bit more challenging. :P
Kids were attracted by the little parrot, which the owner said was the guardian angel of the shop.
The view from the Gondola was breathtaking. The water was so blue, the mountains were tall-standing and the greenies were so soothing to the eyes. It was a nice ride!
View from the gondola.
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村) is a place where we can learn about Taiwanese traditional tribal lifestyle and observe an abundance of aboriginal traditions. The land was purchased in 1982 by the village's current president Jung-i Chang. The park was opened four years later in 1986 with only the culture village and the European garden. The amusement park section was added in 1992. The park was very clean and well managed. Some parts of the park were not stroller friendly, but manageable.
Our kids had great time in the park, enjoying the cultural show, the ice cream, the freshly bake sweet potatoes (free of charge!) and the rides at the amusement park. Too bad we had only half a day there, the park closed at 5pm. If you plan to take the same gondola ride, then take the same boat cruise back to your original starting point, you have to leave before 4pm. The last gondola ride will depart the village at 4pm. We missed it and it caused a big scare in us, not knowing how to get back to our hotel. Papa Bear ran to the information counter and we were told to quickly walk towards the other side of the exit (near European Garden) to see if we could board any public buses. We did. We were lucky to bump into a local tour guide who offered to take us back to our hotel in his van for TWD400. I did call our driver and she was on standby to come over to pick us up should we fail to get a transport back to our hotel. Phew... it was fun as we looked back. By the way, it caused a big scare as I lost my phone, Papa Bear did not have our driver's telephone number! We weren't sure if we could hire taxis or buses easily at this very remote village. Thank God that as Papa Bear called my number, someone answered, she was the customer service staff. She told us someone picked up my phone and handed back to the counter! We were so thankful that all ended well! :)
The cultural show.
Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were departing for the exciting The Caribbean Ride.
They were back and they were all wet!!!
The indoor amusement park which had gentle rides for the little ones.
We were happy with our simple room in the hotel. It came with 2 queen size beds with tea making facility. We loved the balcony the best of course. It's facing the lake!!! But do be careful with you have young children, as the gap in between the bars were wide enough for a young child to slip through. We kept the door locked at all time and made sure either one of us was with the kids.
The view from our room.
The night view.
We had a nice shower and had dinner in our hotel. We were all too tired to explore further. The food was not disappointing though, lucky us! Brother Bear had the freshest stir-fried organic cabbage. Papa Bear and I had the local specialties like Chi Li Fish, Aruzay Fish and some others which we do not know the names. The tastes were unqiue and different with what we usually had, it was a great dining experience.
Our delicious dinner.
After an energised dinner, we felt alive again. We walked around the harbour, enjoying the beautiful night view of Sun Moon Lake. Kids were playing with new friends (local kids), Papa Bear and I felt so blessed. Life was so good!
Our driver came to get us soon, inviting us to walk around the small town, visiting the local shops. Kids had the most delicious ice lollies made from pure fruit purees in one of the small arcades. We strolled around and bought some small souvenirs for keepsake.
All in all, we loved Sun Moon Lake, it was a peaceful small town, it's a destination not to be missed when you visit Taiwan.