Sunday, January 17, 2016

West Lake Resortopia (西湖渡假村) [Taiwan Day 868: Secret Garden - Jan. 16, 2016]


I went back to Miaoli! It was raining in Taipei so I decided to go back to Central Taiwan where the weather was most favorable for a travel adventure. I've already experienced farm life in Flying Cow Ranch, picked strawberries in Dahu and explored its wood town in Sanyi. These are popular destinations but there is another place in this province that is a legend of its own. Just 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Taipei is a 'hidden' destination which is unknown to many and just waiting to be discovered.


I bought the ticket at Counter 26 of the Taipei Bus Station.



Unlike the common destinations in Miaoli where you have to transfer to another bus or ride a taxi , this place is reachable by just boarding a Bus 6606 from Taipei Bus Station. The bus will make a stop in front of the gate of West Lake Resortopia and there you go! The bus fare was only NTD 260 and I boarded the bus at Taipei Bus Station.



The bus left at 7:30am and the chilling winter wind was blowing strong when I arrived at my destination. The lady at the ticket office gave me an English pamphlet of West Lake Resortopia after paying the regular adult ticket of NTD 399. The resort's peak season is during spring when tung blossom flowers turn the roads into a bed of snow and since it was winter there were less people which means lesser photobombers.













West Lake Resortopia is a recreational facility where people can relax and enjoy nature. They have hotels inside the resort and an amusement park for children. The entire complex is 60 hectares and most of the decorations were inspired by the stories of the Hans Christian Andersen who is the author of the famous fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”. 









at lunch time




















The European style garden was a winner to me. Pinwheels surround a fountain where three statues of women stood at the center while a green sofa set in the lawn area attracted my attention. Shoes were not allowed inside the rectangular lawn and I walked in the area wearing only my socks. I took the risk of stepping into something undesirable in the moist garden soil just to lay my body on the interesting house furniture. At the back of the rectangular garden was the Lover's Hill which has a pink piano with a heart as a cover. There was also a cute chapel perfect for wedding photos. 










Barbeque area















I went uphill and I encountered a set of toy soldiers holding their trumpets upwards. They guard the large semi-sphere shaped building called the Dome and I thought of it as being used for large gatherings and conferences in West Lake Resortopia. Not far-away from the Dome was the barbeque area where visitors can grill their food for a fun family outing. I continued the hike until I found an area for training one's physical body. There was rock climbing facility, a shooting range and a set of obstacles. I wandered around the area and I noticed that the area is not frequently visited compared to the other areas of the resort.






















Lakeside Cafe

The rock climbing wall was fixed to a watch tower and I climbed to its top where I saw a lake with large swan boats being pedalled. I went down to get closer to the lake and there was a lady managing the swan boats. The price shown on a board was NTD 30 with life jackets for visitors. I didn't tried the swan boat but I just enjoyed the scenery around the lake. West Lake Resortopia was a very big place and I still have a lot of places to explore.



1820 Sorrowless Valley


West Lake Resort Hotel





































West Lake Resort Hotel faces the 1820 Sorrowless Valley where fireflies and butterflies abound during spring. There were also dinosaurs along the way and they were fun to look at. It has the Jurassic Park feel with sensors that will explain to locals about the dinosaurs they were looking at. A colorful Dutch house was also a few walks away and I made a stop there to eat my snacks. Speaking of Dutch, there was a large windmill in front of the Performance Square and behind the windmill was a village composed of more Dutch houses. They were real houses with air-conditioning facility and I dreamed of someday living in this kind of house. The houses were colorful making it not a ghost town of some sort. Going back to the windmill area was a Interactive Firefly Experience Center where visitors can learn many things about fireflies. These insects multiply in spring and give specks of light to the cold nights of Taiwan.










The world of Hans Christian Andersen can be learned in a building with a castle-like roof but before I entered inside I sat first at one of its dining table outside the building to eat some food. I suddenly heard big and loud footsteps getting nearer to me until I a large purple mascot was standing behind me. A staff greeted me and took my picture with the mascot. Yehey!










Interactive displays were shown inside the Andersen building and I learned that I was like Mr. Andersen He also loves to travel. He gets his inspirations for his children's stories from the places that he visited. He carried a heavy suitcase in every place that he toured which bothers people but makes his travel adventures more exciting. Outside the Andersen building was a plaza where characters from his children's books were permanently displayed. Characters from the story of the Emperor's New Clothes and other Andersen fairy-tale personalities were there and it was super fun to have photos with them.
  

I encountered two large snails before reaching the religious part of West Lake Resortopia.






torii gate



washing my hands at the temizuya

Prayer Tunnel


The biggest surprise in West Lake Resortopia was the “torii” Shinto gate and a prayer tunnel where gods called Bodhisattvas would listen to your prayers. The place is collectively called the Linshen Cave and before entering I first purified my soul by washing my hands with water taken using a wooden dipper at the “temizuya”. I went to the opening of the cave and I was even more surprised by another tunnel. It was the Bat's Cave and a TV screen beside the tunnel entrance shows a live CCTV footage of the bats inside. I made noises and the bat's moved while hanging from the ceiling of the cave. They were alive!



DIY activities can be done inside the Jungle Eco Classroom.  Butterflies and other insects were also displayed inside.















It was beginning to get dark and a final set of photos at the European garden completed my trip. I returned to Taipei by boarding Bus 6606 again and I bought the ticket for NTD 270 at the information counter of the resort's hotel. I walked for a few meters from gate of the resort complex until I found the hotel entrance with a beautiful fountain where friendly English speaking staff would assist you. They will be the one to coordinate with the bus company about the available bus tickets. I got a ticket back to Taipei and the bus arrived at 6:30pm.


I slept along the way dreaming like I was still in the green outdoor sofa of the West Lake Resortopia. It was a memorable trip to a land of fantasy. I now pass the 'key' of this hidden paradise to the reader of this post. Are you ready? Your time has come to open and enter the world of Taiwan's secret garden.
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