Thursday, April 21, 2011

Penghu, the beautiful islands

A few weekends ago, we had a couple of days off of school for Tombsweeping Day (more to come on this). We decided to take advantage by going to Penghu, (or, as the Portuguese called them, the Pescadores Islands) a group of islands off the western coast of Taiwan. Here are the highlights in bullet points, followed by Beth's photos:

- Left on a High Speed Rail train at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday. It was a day of high frequency traveling, so we weren't even sure that our friends, Jes & Julianne, would be able to get tickets. Thanks to a mad dash to the ticket line, we did. We arrived at 5:45am and hopped in a line that wrapped all along the bottom floor of the train station. At 6:00, the ticket agents opened up the ticket lines, but people were lined up improperly. When the ticket agent demonstrated the correct place to make a line, there was a mad dash and, fortunately, we ended up with a better place in line. Needless to say, there were some ticked-off people.

-The train ride was amazing... very smooth and fast. Public transportation here is exceptional.

- Made it to the ferry terminal where we took a 2 hour ferry ride across glass-like water.

-Arrived in Penghu, and were picked up by our friendly homestay host, Mako, and his two year-old daughter.

-Obtained scooters so that we could zip around the islands (I was a bit nervous about this, but it really is pretty easy). I vote that we make scooters in the States less "sissified." They are so convenient and easy on the gas. We filled up for $3.00. And we loved the freedom of having our own transportation.

-The three main islands (out of 100ish) are connected by of which, at one time, was the longest bridge in Asia. We decided to ride across all three to catch the sunset on a western-most peninsula. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of a sunset. The trip back was eventful. I was smart and decided to wear swimming trunks and a t-shirt. Well, it is nice in April, but the temperature drops when the sun goes down and scooters have excellent air conditioning. Therefore, my eyebrows were crusted over with ice by the time the ride was over.

- On Sunday, we took a smaller ferry to a couple other beautiful islands, and saw some of Penghu's famous sites, including: the heart-shaped fish trap, ancient ruins, and interesting geological rock formations.

- Spent the afternoon on a beautiful beach, swimming and playing scrabble. Ate amazing barbecue for dinner.

-Camped on a completely deserted beach. We did, however, become keenly aware of why Penghu is considered the windsurfing capital of the world. Throughout the course of the night, the stakes to our tent were getting pulled up, and at 2am, we crawled out to restake a bit.

- On Monday, the weather was quite cold and gloomy, and I had started to feel sick. So we decided to head back to Taipei a day early. In changing our ferry tickets, we were not given seats for the return trip. We headed to the children's area in the back of the ferry and sat on the floor. Only later did we realize that would be a positive thing.

-Our return ferry ride was rough, literally. Beth doesn't do well with the sea anyway, but it was incredibly windy and the waves were quite large. At times, we were sliding across the floor. It wasn't long before Beth needed to lay down on the floor to keep her lunch down. Not long after that, I began to get a bit queasy as well. Our friends told us that about 90% of the people in the main cabin hurled their cookies. We were glad we got to lay down in the back and avoid the horrible smell and nauseating sounds. Though neither of us lost it, Beth was sick for a couple of days after that.




Mako, with his daughter, in front of his homestay

Sites along the western part of the islands



the Double-Heart stone trap, a famous site in Penghu

old civilizations



Scrabble, with Jes & Julianne




Loved the scooter

Thankful for good friends

All in all, we loved Penghu... the islands are surprisingly untouched by tourism, inhabited by friendly people, and stunningly beautiful.

For more photos, check here.

1 comment:

  1. LOVED the pictures!!! sorry you got sick, but besides that it sounds like you had a great time!!



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