[Day 7] Long Slow Slide

Distance Today: 0km
Total Distance: 594km
Maximum Speed: 0kph
Average Speed: 0kph
Time in Saddle: 0hrs 0min
Journey: Tai’ Chung – Tai’ Chung
Accommodation: Friend’s Apartment
Money Used Today: NT$496

THIS DAY WOULD BE OUR FIRST DAY OF SIGHT SEEING because all the days before, we cycled from one place to the other, and today we’re going to leave our bikes at home while we travel like backpackers. YING EN left the apartment early for her exams, while we slept until 10am, despite the sweltering conditions of the room. With RUO CI as our guide, we planned a brief tour around the city, all on public transportation, HURRAY!

After having breakfast at a stall downstairs (all sort of shops are within walking distance here), we took a commuting train to the city centre. Our first attraction would be the Natural Science Museum, a place highly touted by tourists, both local and foreign.

Following RUO CI’s instructions, we bought the Tai’ Chung bus card, which costs NT$100 for deposit and a minimum NT$100 for reload. With the card, all bus fares comes with a discount and it saves you all the fuss of looking for spare change. The bus system is quite extensive here; almost every inch of the city is covered. But do keep in mind that it can be confusing, and it is highly recommended to check on their website for the routes beforehand.

Admission into the main hall is NT$100 per adult (students get discounts), NT$100 for the planetarium, NT$70 for the 3D theatre and NT$20 for the Botanical Gardens which has an enormous greenhouse and a big aquarium. We bought tickets into the main hall and were greeted by loads of different exhibitions to choose from. Realizing the limited time we have, we decided unanimously to skip the ones showcasing human biology (we’re all doctors to be), and the children ones which includes games and puzzles for them to experience physics and matter. We went into one special exhibition displaying a Japanese bug scientist’s collection of rare insects. It was well decorated and fun to explore, although I do think that the English explanations should be more elaborate. Another gallery worth mentioning is the spacious two-floored one featuring everything Chinese, from the Chinese ancient technology, to the traditions and cultural specifics of the Chinese and a comprehensive gallery about Chinese traditional medicine, which includes a garden of herbs that the Chinese doctors use.

Although our visit was on a weekday, there were buses after buses of tourists filling up the big museum. Some of them were foreigners but most are local families with children. There’s an audio guide for visitors to rent for free, which speaks in Mandarin, English or Japanese. Having the guide was godsend because I was getting tired of reading all those small characters on the explanatory signs. The McDonald’s in the museum which we had our lunch was so crowded that the cashiers had to speak to two customers at the same time while having to keep their minds focused despite the seemingly endless queue.

THE 3D THEATRE seemed interesting so I asked RUO CI and KIAN HWEE to go to the theatre together. It was a typical one, with those cardboard made 3D glasses that you’ll have to wear once you’re inside. The 40-minute show included one childish ghost movie and one documentary about a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I was a fan of those 3D animated shows I’ve watched in Malaysia so I had high expectations. But in the end, RUO CI and me fell asleep halfway through and wasted our NT$70 on a couch and a pair of paper glasses. KIAN HWEE admitted that the documentary was heart-warming though, and the shouts from the audience whenever something scary appears are somewhat entertaining.

WALKING FOR A CHANGE is a great blessing for our butts, and where else could we stretch our legs better than a trip to the night market. Night markets are very popular in Taiwan, and Tai’ Chung has plenty of them. We strolled our way down the stretches of stalls selling food, accessories, bootleg items and others. There are so many food that even vegetarians like me has many appetizing choices to choose from. I particularly liked the Mien’ Mien’ Ping (綿 綿冰), which is shaved flavored ice with toppings of your choice. I complained that the baked potato with cheddar on top was too dry but my other friends liked it, and they really enjoyed the ‘squid balls on sticks’ thing.

After filling our stomachs with all those fat and sugar, we headed back to the apartment by bus, proudly using our Tai’ Chung Bus Card again, making us look like locals. The night was hot just like the day before, but I slept remarkably well, thanks to the pleasant trip around Tai’ Chung city, all without our bikes…

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