Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nantou (南投) Special - Puli Brewery - Geographic Center of Taiwan (台灣地理中心) [Taiwan Day 875: Center of Attraction Part 1 “Journey to the center of Taiwan” - Jan. 23, 2016]


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ABSTRACT: Nantou is the heart of Taiwan and it pumps with various attractions. The centermost and landlocked province has Sun Moon Lake as it banner tourist destination with Mt. Yushan at an altitude of 3,952 meters topping all the list of mountains in East Asia. It has no seas but the allure of seeing snow during winter keeps visitors from coming back. When news of the worst cold spell coming to Taiwan for the first time in 10 years spread like virus, I decided to go to Nantou to see snow in Hehuanshan with a side trip to the town of Puli. The geographic center of Taiwan is located here with the cold winter rain welcoming my arrival. Traveling to Cingjing Farm was full of drama as tears falling from the sky suddenly turn into solid particles. Snow! I slid down a hill covered with snow, made a snowman and have a snowball fight. Brrr! Taipei got the attention that it wanted when it rained snow in Yangmingshan after waiting for decades and a lot of people were asking on what happened to my two-day Nantou Special. My friends and followers around the world were all eager to know. The time has come to focus your eyes on gazing Taiwan's “Center of Attraction”.
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I gained new online friends with the success “Luo-Mu Jie and the Chocolate Factory” in Taiwan Day 862. One of them was a Filipino who works in Hsinchu. His name was Leo and he was the newest addition to my list of Travel Buddies. He got excited with the idea of traveling every week in Taiwan. Another Travel Buddy was Rakesh and he now made a comeback appearance to my Taiwan Day Adventures. My Indian friend last joined my trip in Taiwan Day 666 (Drag Me To Hell) and he loves doing hiking adventures. With my travel team completed, we embarked on an unforgettable journey in Nantou.
 




Rakesh and I met Leo first at Hsinchu Station before heading to Taichung Station. My new Filipino friend have little experience traveling to Taiwan and he might have difficulty looking for the Gancheng bus stop near Taichung Station. The meeting with Leo at the train station in Hsinchu was history as he was the first Filipino who I do not know personally to join my travel adventures. He just added me as a friend in facebook and he sent me a message that he wants to join my next trip. I bet that there will be more new acquaintances that will join my exciting trips with the increasing popularity of my blog among Filipinos working in Taiwan.
 
Our group photo in Taichung Station. Rakesh is on the left, Leo is on the middle and I stand on the right side.





We have a group photo with the Baroque-style building of Taichung Station upon reaching the train station and we walked as fast as we could to reach Gancheng bus stop. We arrived there on time and we boarded Bus 6268 immediately and paid the bus fare using our Easy Card. It was the fastest bus that I've rode in Taiwan and it reached the town of Puli after 1 hour and 20 minutes. The bus ride was an adventure in itself as the vehicle goes through mountains amidst the slippery road. I was also surprised by towering skyways built in the valleys of Central Taiwan. I could imagine my ears popping if a rode a bus that goes on that very high skyway.
 


I got this from the email of Puli Center Center Hostel.

The last stop of the Bus 6268 was the Geographic Center of Taiwan but we decided to alight at the Puli Brewery which was the second to the last stop. The tourist destination was just a few walks away from our chosen hostel which was Puli Center Center Hostel. The hostel name has two 'Center' words which was a bit weird. The Puli bus station was also a neighbor of our hostel so it was very convenient to stay at. The staff were very friendly and I could say that it was one of the best hostels that I have stayed in Taiwan . The very good feedback that I have read in hostelworld were all true!. It was still early to check-in at 11:30am so we left our bags at the hostel to have an enjoyable travel in the town.
 



































































Pork jelly, wine and other delicious products surprised me and my Travel Buddies when we entered the Puli Brewery complex. We were expecting it to be in a museum showcasing the history, arts and culture of winemaking in the town of Puli but what we entered was a sales center where various products of the Puli Shaoshing Brewery can be tasted for free. Visitors who haven't eaten their lunch will enjoy tasting their various products especially the pork jelly which seems to be on an unlimited supply. I also tried tasting some of their wines and it warmed my throat. Interestingly, the staff doesn't want to tell me the price of the wine. They just asked me if I want to buy. For non-drinkers, there were juice drinks to select from with the pure jar of the juice displayed at the shop. A lady would then give you a sample of their refreshing drink to convince you to buy. Above the sales center was the actual museum with Chinese and English displays about the famous Shaoshing wine of Nantou. There were a lot of photo opportunities with the tunnel of jars providing excitement to those who entered it.
 











We boarded Bus 6268 again to see the Geographic Center of Taiwan. The island's center was located Hǔtóushān (虎頭山) or the Tiger Head mountain identified through modern methods with another center point computed by the Japanese during Taiwan's colonial period. So there were two geographic centers that were identified, the Japanese center point which was at the base of the Hǔtóushān mountain and the modern center point located at the mountain top. We climbed to the top of the 555 meter mountain and hiking it was like visiting a temple in Japan. There used to be Shinto shrine on this mountain top but the ambience of a Shinto shrine can still be felt from its stairs. At the top, we saw the stela which marked the center of Taiwan and we didn't missed the opportunity to have a group photo. There was a viewing deck near the geographic center and we saw the town of Puli. The town has a big building with a huge satellite dish looking structure on its top and was very noticeable from our location.



The terminal station of Bus 6268 was on the other side of the road and we boarded the bus to go back to our hostel by alighting at Puli Brewery. Our shoes were already wet by the cold winter rain and we need to dry them immediately. It would be dangerous if we don't dry them because tomorrow would be the coolest day of my life. Tears from the sky would fall not as rain but as snow. (To be continued...)
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