Being the rebels we are (ahem), we decided to end our tour with Taipei instead of starting there. After a redeye flight, this might not have been a good idea, but anyhoo, we got out of the plane and into a waiting car. Our charming driver Mr Lan (Tel: +886 953 222209 - speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese onl) who has a Facebook Page would drive us northeast to a charming Minsu (B&B), Feng Chun Villa in Yilan Province. Here's the Tripadvisor link, as the website itself is mostly in Chinese and you can book it on Booking.com, one of our favourite booking websites!
Before we could get there, however, we had to take a cultural detour as the B&B wasn't ready for us yet (we arrived around 8am, and check in was at noon). So, we stopped for some home made guotie (pot stickers) and a cultural show at the Yilan National Centre for Traditional Arts. We got to try traditional candies as well as watch an interesting street drama - no idea what was going on in that play, but the kids had fun!
Finally, we arrived at Feng Chun Villa - the folks there pride themselves in their large spacious rooms, as well as their awesome cuisine. Special menus are prepared with care taken to make the dishes soooooo healthy and delicious. The kids ate everything!
Dolphin & Whale Cruise
We booked a dolphin & whale watching cruise through the Feng Chun Villa staff Howard Li and drove via Jiaoxi Hot Springs, where we tried their Chilli Ice Cream - an intiruguing combination of hot and cold. We didn't have time to take many pictures, so here's Sara In Oz's blog on her experience with that.
After a quick foot dip in the hot springs, we set off for the cruise but unfortunately no whales were to be seen...photos of the boat trip will be coming soon!
After a relaxing few days, we went to the scallion farm on our way to the train station, where we got to be farmers for a morning, trudging through mud to learn how they farm and harvest the scallions. We topped this off by learning to cook scallion pancakes the traditional way. Yummy!
Getting around in Yilan was pretty easy. Most of the Minsus (B&Bs) have drivers or can arrange a 3rd party driver for families. The drivers all have their usual routes to show the sights of the town, and if you have your own ideas, you can always make them known and the drivers can suggest the best routes to incorporate them.
As for trains, the TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration) has a very easy to use website on which you can book your train trips in English, if you don't read Chinese. We mostly took the Tze-Chiang Express trains (they have 3 main train types) which were a little teeny bit more expensive but comfortable and still very affordable by most developed city standards.