A Day Trip to Puli
By Claire Tyrrell Translated by Ann Lee
Although Puli may have the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most devastated areas after the 921 earthquake, this small town in Nantou county has certainly risen again to provide a relaxing change of pace from the city. And, with direct buses from Kuo Kuang bus terminal beside Taipei's main station, a day excursion to this peaceful retreat couldn't be any easier.
Set amongst the hills, small Puli may seem an unlikely site for the awe inspiring Chung Tai Chan Monastery, which may look more like a Vegas theme resort than your everyday temple. The scale of this center of Buddhism can not be appreciated until seen with your own eyes. Completed in 2001, this award winning building is symbolically designed; the shape of the building represents a cultivator sitting in meditation. The pilgrimage stairs on either side of the monastery represent the bodhisattva path. Even from outside you can see through the 30-meter tall, frameless window that reaches all the way to the sixteenth floor, and, through that, the seven story pagoda. Made from teakwood, this pagoda was constructed traditionally, without the use of a single nail. For information on tours, Buddhist education and meditation, and opening hours, check their website or contact the monastery. Chung Tai Chan is situated a short drive outside of Puli, and taxis should cost around NT$250 each way. Though if you cab it there, get the number of your taxi driver, as finding a taxi coming back is not easy.
Another point of interest for a Puli day trip is the Wine Museum and Factory. Puli is famous for its Shaohsing wine, and this museum attempts to inform visitors about making and selling the liquor. Though it's not to the standard of brewery tours elsewhere in the world, you can still try their famous Shaohsing sausages or popsicles while you're there.
Puli also has a paper factory, a museum of entomology, and the Taiwan Geographical Monument; marking the geographical center of Taiwan. Accommodation in town is both easy to find and affordable, in case you want to make your day trip into a weekend excursions.
Chung Tai Chan Monastery
Puli Shaohsing Brewery
Hours: 8:30 am -5 / 5:30 pm