Even though Chiayi was just a short stop on our way from Alishan (after the most amazing Sunrise in Alishan) to Kaohsiung (check out my previous blog posts: Kaohsiung’s wonders and Sunday on Cijin Island) and I didn’t really planned anything to do or see there, it totally deserves a special post. It was the only place in Taiwan that we visited not knowing what to expect at all. After almost a week there we kind of knew it wouldn’t disappoint us, but to be so impressed was not something we expected.
We arrived with a bus from Alishan tired and moody, dropped our backpacks in a locker at the train/bus station and headed into the streets with no real purpose or goal whatsoever. One of the first things we noticed is that Chiayi has many hair salons. Like really a lot of them everywhere and they all looked so fancy, we sometimes had to look twice because it felt more like a cafe than a hair salon. The fact that we were searching for a place to eat surely had something to do with it.
We used Google maps to find some restaurants close by and decided to try out Nonamelab. It seemed like this place is really trendy right now and when we saw the interior of the place we understood why. It is modern, hip, young, playful but with soft industrial vibe and food also had great reviews. We ordered salad with duck and pork burger, that came with fries, scrambled eggs and a salad. Both dishes were delicious, I especially liked the dressing on the salad. We did have to wait a long time to get our ice teas (we almost finished eating) but they were both so very yummy. I went with the pineapple one and Gregor went with rose peaches. Having tiny pieces of fruit in the ice tea was a lovely touch that also added to the flavour.
Filled with energy we headed to explore more of what Chiayi had to offer. We stumbled across this great structure made of wood. Since we didn’t look into Chiayi we didn’t know what this was about. It is called Song of the Forest and it represents Chiayi’s timber industry. It is made of wood, railway sleepers, rattan, and rocks. I think it is a nice place to relax and feel more connected with nature.
Wandering around the city we found this pretty street with an old railroad and houses with plants and flowers just beside it. I loved those tiny surprises Taiwanese cities offered when you thought you are lost. Yellow fence with orchids on it and other greenery creating little urban jungles on every corner.
Behind the Chiayi railway station is another space for culture and arts. Chiayi Cultural & Creative Industries Park once distillery of kaoliang liquor is now one of five such parks in Taiwan that are supported by the Ministry of Culture.
How to get to Chiayi? The easiest and quickest way to reach Chiayi from Taipei is with Taiwanese High Speed Rail. We bought our tickets for THSR one month in advance, when you can get up to 30% discount. Same way you can reach it from Zuoying Station, close to Kaohsiung. The ride from Chiayi to Zuoying is just half an hour and we paid 325 NTD per person one way (cca. 9 EUR).
Even though we only had couple of hours to explore this city and no actual plan on what we want to see, it was nice to have a day off. Just walking around, observing people running their errands, finding a nice place to have lunch, being amazed by the little things. Other days were very much planned, some even over-planned, so we had to scratch some things off our list, but if we came so far, than we would like to experience this country as much as possible. We left quite some things for the next time, when our itinerary will probably be much more relaxed. And then Chiayi might also get a second chance to impress us again.
How much do you plan your trips? Do you leave some space for something unpredictable?
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