Uvia Chang Translated by Teresa Cheng
(Shinshe) township, located in the foothills
just northeast of Taichung city, is a place
that has gone from almost complete anonymity
a decade ago to becoming one of Greater
Taichung's more popular destinations, particularly
during the weekends. Some of these changes
have occurred since the 9-21 earthquake
in 1999, as the Taichung county government
has worked hard to restore the area to
its former appearance.
Agriculture, sightseeing and cottage getaways
are high on the list of favorite Xinshe attractions
and the area has become popular with vacationers.
On the way to Xinshe, you will see many black
tents, erected over plots growing multiple
kinds of mushrooms, such as the well-known
Abalone Mushroom. Street vendors line up next
to these farms to sell fresh, deep-fried mushrooms.
In addition to these savory fungi, other local
specialties include loquats, pineapples, grapes
and persimmons--all worth your tasting.
Xinshe has all the elements that make a perfect
weekend getaway--natural scenery, lush green
mountains, clear water, creeks, a large assortment
of flowers and plants, charming gardens and
culturally-infused cafes. Coming from Taichung
city, get on Dong Shan Road and head towards
the Da Keng Jung Xing Ridge. From there, head
towards Xinshe. Traffic allowing, getting to
Xinshe will take you approximately 40 minutes
by car. There are easy-to-follow signs all
along the roads to Xinshe. Coming from the
north on National Freeway No. 1, get off at
Fongyuan (Fengyuan) exit, or get onto National
Freeway No. 4, and head east towards the mountain
town of Dong Shi (Tung Shih). Passing through
Shi Gung the road will lead you in the direction
of Xinshe. Head in the direction of Jung Shing
Ridge and you will find yourself in Xinshe.
Xinshe has several worthwhile features--botanical
attractions, star-gazing, herbal dining, forests,
cottages and numerous open-air cafes. Aside
from the cafes introduced below, there are
plenty of other things to discover on one's
own. Some cafes require an entrance fee, ranging
from NT$100 to NT$300, which often cover meals
6, Shie Zhong St., Shie Chen Village, Xinshe
(04) 2581-5662; Hours: 10 am-9:30 pm (open
to 10:30 pm Saturdays)
Completely built out of timber, Cherry Blossom
exudes a vintage, rustic atmosphere. It is
situated in a specific area of Xinshe which
offers ideal hiking and a spectacular view.
Cherry blossoms and herbs grew on either side
of the pedestrian trail here. During peak seasons,
the blossoms bloom to a vibrant fire-red, creating
a beauty that is simply indescribable. Cherry
Blossom's menu includes various types of coffee,
cold/hot drinks, and fruit vinegar and pine
vinegar drinks--a specialty touted as having
enriching and beautifying effects. Set meals
include salad, an appetizer, an entree and
soup and are all approximately NT$150.
Great Bodhi Leisure Farm Resort
55, Jonghe St., sec. 1, Yong Yuen Village,
(04) 2581-7469; Hours: 9 am-6 pm
As with Cherry Blossom, Great Bodhi Leisure
Farm Resort is located on the main street of
Xinshe. The resort is targeted towards those
who enjoy the nature and is divided up into
different areas: an herbal and botanical garden,
wetlands education area, lotus flower appreciation
ponds, and ecological education area. All the
flora in each area is identified with detailed
introductions. The resort also offers coffee,
teas, wild mountain vegetation and newly-built
cottages. The second floor of the dining area
offers a picturesque view of the entire resort
which is been unspoiled and changes with the
seasons. Every part of the resort brings to
you a richer experience of the great outdoors.
16, Lane 6, Jonghe St., sec. 1, Yong Yuen Village,
(04) 2582-1366; Hours: 10:30 am-9 pm
Located next to Great Bodhi Leisure Farm Resort
is the Baroque-style, open-air cafe, Natural
Founds. The cafe follows the style of a 1600s
European Baroque-infused mansion, full of royal
elegance. The dining at Natural Founds emanates
a Western flavor, allowing you to experience
the passion of Europe without leaving Taiwan.
Lodging at Natural Founds is half-priced on
weekdays and 30 percent off on weekends. In
particular, this place is a great getaway for
families, both large and small.
Chien Hua Garden
61, Shie Shing St., Shie Chen Village, Xinshe
(04) 2582-1141; Hours: 10 am-6 pm (Wed.-Fri.),
closed Mondays/Tuesdays for mandatory maintenance
unless a national holiday. (*Please call to
confirm opening days and hours.)
A garden worth a visit year-round, Chien Hwa's
scenery changes over time with each season.
Each season presents a unique feeling--colors,
flowers and plants unique to each time of the
year. The garden is lush with greenery and
a man-made creek is full of small fish. Chien
Hwa Garden's cafe is located inside a glass
tower which is covered with intertwined plants.
You are able to enjoy a cup of coffee here
while literally being fully immersed in nature.
129-2, Hwa Fong St., Shie Chen Village, Xinshe
(04) 2582-0205; Hours: 10 am-6 pm
On the way to Chien Hwa Garden, you will find
yourself passing a field of roses. Here, Rose
Garden covers approximately one acre of land
with nearly 30,000 rose shrubs of varying colors.
These rows of shrubs await visitors, who have
opportunity to personally pick the roses. If
hands-on harvesting is not your thing, there
are freshly-cut bouquets of roses available
at a decent and fair price.
Princess Annie's Garden
223, Jong Xing (Jung Shing) Rd., Jonghe Village,
(04) 2593-1567-8; Hous: 10:30 am-8 pm
Princess Annie's Garden is built with multi-layered
European wood, taking visitors straight into
a European landscape painting. Next to the
garden is Xinshe's vital "Bai Lun Juing".
Because Xinshe lacks water resources, residents
rely solely on this giant suction tube. Covering
approximately 500 pings, the garden is lush
with multi-colored flowers and plants, creating
the likeness of a royal castle. Coffee and
flower and fruit teas are priced around NT$150.
All set meals are seasoned with herbs. The
most popular dish, the Provence-Alpes Cote-d'Azur
Baby Ribs, will set you back NT$380.
20, Jong Xing (Jung Shing) St., Jonghe Village,
(04) 2593-1066; Hours: 10:30 am-6:30 pm
Fulfilling their dreams, two young women came
to the lush environs of Xinshe to create their
own ideal world, turning a plot of betelnut
trees into a lavender garden. Combining herbal
agriculture with a perfect escape, the two
women have found their establishment especially
popular and famous amongst the many notable
surrounding cafes and resorts. Visitors go
to Lavender Cottage to experience a retreat
of simplicity, herbs and nature.