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A beautiful and tranquil experience
Sun Moon Lake in Nantou Yuchi Township, Taiwan, is a serene lake surrounded by mountain ranges and is visited by millions of visitors every year. It is one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan. It was named such after its physical resemblance to a sun and a crescent moon. The name itself is so serene and seems like encompassing the sky and the water.
We are really looking forward to visit the lake and decide to take a day trip to the lake. It is one and a hour journey from Taichung. We have hired a taxi for our whole duration of stay in Taiwan but for those who want to know about all the ways to reach the Sun Moon Lake, read about it here.
The first stop – Wen Wu Temple
We start our trip with a visit to the Wen Wu temple near the Sun Moon Lake. It seems to be a popular place going by the number of people present in the temple premises. It is a beautiful temple with a Chinese architectural style and has three separate halls.
The Central hall is devoted to Guan Gong, the God of War, and the warrior-God Yue Fei. The second floor is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature. The rear hall is dedicated to Confucius.
The Wen Wu temple has beautiful views of the Lake especially, if you climb up to the terrace which we do and take in the wide expanse of the crescent shaped lake and its stunning and serene views.
The lake has beautiful views and has is tranquil. The surroundings are lush and green and a balm to the eyes.
There are two types of boat tours. While one allows you to hop on and off from each stop and stay as long as you desire at each stop, the other takes about an hour, merely making one-stop while other sights would be simply passed by, and giving passengers a 15-minute stay at the stop before heading back. We take the latter due to time constraints.
The boat stops at the Xuanguang Pier. There is the Xuanguang Temple which is small temple but the place seems to be famous for the famous Ah Ma tea leaf egg stall. Ah Ma, an old lady, sells tea braised eggs which are hugely popular. We have a couple of them and like them. We hear that the stall location was given Mr. Chiang Kai Shek, the then leader of China.
After taking the ferry ride, we want to have our lunch. We want to try some local food but today the kids are hankering for pizza. Luckily, we spot a place right above the Visitor Centre. We go to Smokey Joe’s pizza place and have Sun Moon lake coffee, vegetable pizza, fries, chicken nuggets and deep fried tiger prawn rolls. The food is kid friendly and not heavy on the pockets. Feeling sated, we slowly make our way through the street, on the way buying some tea and souvenirs.
Ci En Pagoda
Done, we go to the Ci En Pagoda which sits on the 954 meter-high Sha ba lan Mountain. It was built by late President Chiang to honour his mother. It is a steep climb of around 700 metres though doable if fitness is okay. We huff and puff a bit and reach the top. It is quiet and not many people are there.
The Pagoda has 9 levels and you can climb depending on your fitness levels. Views of the lake are definitely worth it though frustratingly, for us, it is cloudy and hence the view is not so clear.
The Oh so stunning Bicycle trip
Last thing of the day. We are tired but it is said that no trip of the lake is complete unless you do a cycling trip around the lake. The cycling route around the Sun Moon Lake is said to be one of the “10 Breathtaking Cycling Routes” in the world (CNN News) and we just have to do it.
There are two ways to do it, the full loop of 29 Kilometres (18 Miles) or the shorter and easier 12 Kilometers (7.5 Miles). Evening has set in and we have the small one too. The shorter ride makes sense due to the lack of time and we hire some cycles from a cycle shop. We get one with a baby carrier fixed to it.
The route is full of pleasant sights of the lake and lush surroundings. The lake has gleaming green waters which sometimes changes to blue. There are small pretty bridges and beaches (yeah, even the lake can have beaches, very small ones though :-)).
We find the trail to be a beautiful experience. We see many people fishing and enjoying the quietude, street food vendors and people walking around.
The day comes to an end. It has been an exhilarating experience. The kids have lot of fun and so do we. Sun Moon Lake and its surroundings are a bit crowded and touristy, but if you could look beyond that, it can turn out to be a great experience. A little regret is there since this place deserves two days or even more. But we are hopeful of returning very soon.