Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) Special - How to go to Sun Moon Lake [Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 1 “How to go to Sun Moon Lake” - Nov. 6, 2015]



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ABSTRACT: Who could have ever thought of creating a lake in the middle of Taiwan? If the sun and the moon are husband and wife, then their love must have created the Sun Moon Lake. At a surface elevation of 748 meters, Sun Moon Lake is the highest and largest inland body of water in Taiwan. A boat ride across the lake, temple visits, cable car ride and a lot of other things can be done to enjoy the lake. Rent a bike and ride your life along its lakeside. Wake up early in the morning and hike the mountains to see the sunrise. Stroll in the middle of the night at the pier and see the full moon illuminating the lake. The sun in the morning and the moon at night… They fused into one at Sun Moon Lake. And in the absence of the moon at night, the sun will always remember that his moon wife is somewhere out there embracing him from a distance like when visitors are already back home and they remember the lake's beauty in their dreams. 3 days of enjoying the lake and almost 800 days in Taiwan, let this 'Sun Moon Lake Special' be known as the 'Moon Embracing the Sun'.
 
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Sun Moon Lake is a very famous tourist destination in Taiwan and I have known friends who went to Nantou in Central Taiwan to see the eye-catching lake. Unfortunately, they were not able to maximize their stay due to poor planning and bad execution of their travel plan. This travel adventure attempts to document and explain how to enjoy Sun Moon Lake, the Luo-Mu Jie way.


But where is Sun Moon Lake and why is it called “Sun Moon Lake”? The lake can be found in Central Taiwan in the province of Nantou and its present name was derived from the shape of the lake as you look above from it. The sun is the larger right portion with peninsulas protruding out of its waters. The moon part can be found on its left part and is elongated. It is very large and covers 9,000 hectares. The Taiwanese government have developed attractions around the lake without the need to swim in its waters.


How to go to Sun Moon Lake? You can take a direct bus from Taipei West Bus Station B and pay NTD 460 and the ride will take 3 to 4 hours. Another option is to take a public transport by bus or local train to Taichung and then transfer to a Taiwan Tour Bus going to Sun Moon Lake. It will take the same amount of time in reaching the lake like in the Taipei-Sun Moon Lake direct bus and it will also cost you roughly the same price. But since it was a Friday, I chose the fastest way in reaching Taichung. 

My 50% discounted ticket in the Taiwan High Speed Rail
I boarded the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) and paid only half of the ticket price. I'm a student in Taiwan and based on the 50% student discount train timetable and I can board the train at 7:18am on a Friday. I was a bit tensed in buying the ticket at Taipei Main Station. It was only 15 minutes before the train leaves when I queued at the ticket booth. I waited for 12 minutes until I got my turn to buy my discounted ticket. I presented my student ID and I was given the 50% discount. Two minutes before the train starts to run, I rushed to platform 2A where the bullet train going to Taichung was waiting.

There were only a few passengers on a Friday morning.

The view as seen outside the windows of THSR

The inside of THSR looks like you are inside an airplane.
I went down to Exit 5 and I immediately saw this booth.  The Sun Moon Lake Pass is available here and also the ticket for the Taichung-Sun Moon Lake Bus.




It was a calm morning and I was surprised that there were only a few passengers so I took the chance to take photos of myself while sitting inside the speeding Shinkansen 700T train. Upon reaching Taichung THSR, I went down to Exit 5 where I immediately saw a booth with a Taiwan Tour Bus photo. This booth sells a variety of Sun Moon Lake Pass. Prospective visitors to Sun Moon Lake should buy these passes if they want to save money. I chose the NTD 360 Sun Moon Lake which includes the round-lake bus ticket, cable-car ticket, ferry boat and one-way ride from Shuishe Visitor Center to Xiangshan Visitor Center. You can also upgrade the pass to include the roundtrip ticket of Taichung THSR- Sun Moon Lake bus for a price of NTD 680 NTD. 

My bus ticket going to Sun Moon Lake
The Sun Moon Lake Taiwan Tour bus

I bought the NTD 360 pass since I plan to go back home by taking a direct bus to Taipei from Sun Moon Lake. The single journey ticket to Sun Moon Lake from Taichung THSR costs NTD 190. The Taiwan Tour Bus was a bit late but we arrived safely. I knew that the bus had arrived at Sun Moon Lake when my fellow passengers got excited upon seeing its blue waters.

Shuishe Visitor Center.  This is the final stop of the Sun Moon Lake Taiwan Tour Bus.


The Round-the-Lake bus also start its route at Shuishe Visitor Center.

I exchanged my ferry boat coupon to this lady for a ferry boat round-trip ticket.
The Shuishe Visitor Center was the final stop of the bus. As soon as I stepped out of the bus a woman suddenly grabbed my Sun Moon Lake Pass and attempted to get the ferry boat coupon attached to the pass. I was first hesitant to give my ferry boat coupon but since she was wearing a uniform and all the passengers willingly gave their coupons I gave her my Sun Moon Lake Pass She then exchanged my ferry boat coupon with a round-trip ferry boat ticket worth NTD 300. 




warnings and prohibited acts in Sun Moon Lake








I immediately went down to Shuishe Pier and I was captivated by the waters of Sun Moon Lake. The lake was so relaxing with the mountains providing a good background for a great selfie. After taking photos of myself with the help of my tripod, I hurriedly went to my ferry boat. How did I know that it was the right one? I just looked into the photo in my ticket and I saw people getting inside a ferry. It was going to Xuanguang Pier. Broom...broom....broom. The engine had already started and the ferry boat was slowly moving away from Shuishe Pier. My adventure in Sun Moon Lake begins. (To be continued...)

THE COMPLETE SUN MOON LAKE SERIES:
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 1 "How to go to Sun Moon Lake"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 2 "The Invisible Line That the Dragon Wrote"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 3 "Dark Knight" 
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 4 "Rope, Rope and Away"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 5 "Food from the Thao"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 6 "Hello Jiji, Goodbye Tripod"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Part 7 "Ride your life"
Taiwan Day 797to799: Moon Embracing the Sun Finale "The Master's Sun" 


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