Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Taiwan Tour Bus
Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

        By Sean O'Brian

So you're headed to Taiwan. Thanks to "Wikipedia," you know the country was dubbed "Ilha Formosa," or "Beautiful Island," by the Portuguese in the 1500s. And, uh - you know it's an island. Hmm, isn't there a really tall building there, too? Oh right, Taipei "One-Oh-One." So it's beautiful in Thailand, er,?KTaiwan, and there's a huge building. And, eh?K.
For so much of the world, Taiwan remains a mystery - a country reduced to a few stereotypical monuments and concepts. This is unfortunate, because the country's relative smallness masks a goldmine of cultural and scenic richness. Those tourists who try to "do" Taiwan in a few days find themselves lost in a sea of choices, wondering how a country the size of Vermont could offer so much to see, and do, and above all know.
Here is where Taiwan Tour Bus excursions come in. Our group was eight: in addition to Sunny (my photographer) and myself, there was a German couple, a pair of honeymooners from the Czech Republic, our gracious if soft-spoken driver, and last but most definitely not least, our guide James. A living, breathing encyclopedia of all things Taiwan, visitors I implore you: let James be your Virgil. I promise he's not nearly so virtuous (dull) as Dante's famous escort.
The advantages of a Taiwanese tour guide who can speak English are enormous. As a tourist, it's easy to skip out on the opportunity of an organized tour, and tackle things on your own. It's also easy to end up at Subway when the night market appears too daunting, or at the hotel watching PPV movies after a tiring day drifting through temples that were and remain unfathomable to you. James laid the foundation for every place we visited, expanding the experience with context.
The trip from Taipei to Taichung took 2.5 hours, an easy drive with a fifteen-minute rest on the way and a meal at the end. At the restaurant we joined a dense lunchtime crowd out on the stone patio, overlooking the lawn and a pool stocked with colorful carp. Our German friends were baffled by the chunks of beef and bone seasoning our soup, but with a little coaxing (and heavy finger-use) found it much to their liking.
Next we headed to Sun Moon Lake , our primary destination for the day. If Taroko Gorge represents Taiwan's masculine scenery - a steel-toned torrent piping through serrated spires on its way out to sea - then Sun Moon Lake is its feminine counterpart. The name stems from its unique shape, the eastern shores rounded like the sun, while the opposite side forms a crescent. Tracing the contours of the water, our drive afforded excellent views as we made our way up into the lakeside hills to Cih-en Pagoda . The tallest pagoda in Taiwan, its nine stories were erected by Taiwan's late president Chiang Kai-shek in honor of his mother. From the top you can send shivers down the ornate structure by ringing the gong, and at exactly 1,000 meters above sea level, the view is ideal to survey the lake and surrounding mountains.


Next stop on our journey was lakeside Sun Moon Village , which offered a variety of traditional clothing and artwork of the Thao people , the smallest of Taiwan's 13 officially recognized indigenous tribes. The village included an esoteric shop that specialized in owl-oriented pieces - everything from coffee mugs to intricately detailed, life-size wood carvings. There were countless food vendors as well. Almost all were willing to provide samples to us camera-waving waiguoren ("foreigners"), so we grazed our way down to the docks.
I was shocked by the lake's blue shade. My home area has many lakes, each teeming with jet-skis and speedboats and, consequently, a color like yesterday's coffee. A swim here, on the other hand, would be like diving into a blueberry. At the docks you can rent paddleboats, though swimming is prohibited except for the annual Across the Lake Swim held every September.

For the sunset we headed to lakeside Wunwu Temple , an imposing complex with twin scarlet lions guarding the exterior. As with many temples in Taiwan, there is a mix of religious elements - here of Daoist and Confucian elements, as statues of the martial gods Guangong and Yuefei can be seen along with the erudite author of the Analects. Jim informed us that icons of Guangong, a historical figure who was a military mastermind turned economist, can be found often in betel-nut shops - as a boon to business, and for protection against any overaggressive customers.
After a long day we headed back to the hotel in Taichung. Taichung Plaza International Hotel offered all the amenities I could have asked for, which in this case meant a comfortable bed and complimentary breakfast. After breakfast we got an early start on the road to Lugang .
Longshan Temple in Lugang is the second oldest in Taiwan, following the temple of the same name in Taipei. Much work is currently being done to restore the complex, though James pointed out the many original pillars and doors are still securely in place. The temple's spaciousness was notable, with an expansive courtyard that allowed tranquility in spite of the work being done. It was an ideal place for quiet contemplation.
Lugang is one of the few towns left in Taiwan that has managed to resist all-out modernization. The high-speed rail system does not venture this way, nor do the major north-south freeways exit here. Heading down Old Market Street , I was struck by the traditional buildings, exhibiting a style of architecture I'd little seen in Taipei. Their narrow mouths opened to reveal deep interiors, long dark bellies stocked with everything from toys to artwork to cakes.
Lugang is also home to Master Wu Dun-hou , the renowned paper-lantern painter. It's hard to know just how long he's been practicing his craft, as his age is a well-kept secret, but suffice it to say long enough. Ilona (a German companion) took the opportunity to have a lantern painted, and an hour later a mere NT$500 had secured her one of these unique objets d'art.
Sadly, Sunny and I had to head back to Taipei after visiting Lugang. Our companions were forging ahead to Kaohsiung, and we made hasty goodbyes. Despite our language barriers (the Europeans' English wasn't spectacular, my Czech and German nonexistent), our companions were one of the most rewarding aspects of the trip. Without a common language we had to be creative. Gestures and facial expressions were our grammar, and our shared experience as foreigners - outsiders looking in with a curious blend of awe and trepidation - was a kind of language to draw upon.
My Taiwan Tour Bus outing had at least one drawback (departure time at 8:30 am), but the benefits infinitely outweighed the negative. Had I "done" Sun Moon Lake alone, I could have woken up and come and gone as I pleased, yet I wouldn't have met Jim, or any of my traveling companions, or the other beautiful people we came across. As the adventure lies in best coming to know the unknown, a tour is the only way to go.


Lugang is also home to Mas



1st Day
Pick-up from hotel ?? bus for Nantoun??Sun Moon Lake?? Lake Bus Tour (Wunwu Temple/Sun Moon Village/Cih-en Pagoda/Holy Monk Shrine)?? Taichung City (Overnight at Taichung City)

2nd Day
Taichung City?? Lugang historical and cultural town?? train or ­­bus for Taipei


Adult NT$6,000
Children NT$4,800


Phone: (02)25635313?B25634621
E-mail: edisonts@ms6.hinet.net


* Single supplement NT$1,000
* All included except lunch & dinner
* Scenic spots can be changed by tourist needs sometimes.


Lovely Lotus Flower Fields

Little Streets and Small Alleys

Noodles, Buns, and Dumplings

Shin Kong Chao Feng Resort Ranch

Hao Bu Hao Chi?

Taitung by the sea

Sleep, Eat, and Buy Options in Alishan’s North Sector

Mt. Guanyin

A Night at the Market

Alishan North

Green and Sleepy

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Taiwan and Hotpot

Jinyue Indigenous Village

Seven Stars Mountain

DaMorLee Leisure Farm

Quick Trip to Taipei

Up into the High Mountains

Romantic Evenings in Kaohsiung

Railways to Bikeways

Xiang Luo Lei Restaurant

Land Ho! Penghu – Beckoning You

The Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path

The Heart of Hualien

Dageeli Tribe Restaurant

Coastal Hualien

Ximending (West Gate District)

Bunun Hunters Restaurant

Hello Hualien!

The Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area

Tianwei Highway Garden

Prowlin’ in Maolin

Strawberry Town

The Maolin National Scenic Area

Stairways to the Sky

Pedaling Along

Daluan Restaurant

Around the Northern Tip

Hats and Mats

Orange Country

Travel Taiwan, Film Taiwan!

A Place to Relax

Through the Grapevine

The Tatami of Dongshi


Lion’s Head Mountain and Beipu

Exploring the Valley of the Glowing Sky

Fruit of the Angels

Its Cake Culture

The Amazing Bamboo

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)


Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild


Taipei Int'l Flora Expo




Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!


Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART


Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu