It’s been a really busy few weeks, which hasn’t given us a lot of time to add more posts. And a lot has happened in that time, so we’ve got a lot to talk about. The first adventure we want to share was our trip to the Xinshe Flower Festival. Xinshe is a semi-rural farming area outside of Taichung, which is apparently like the Garden of Eden, in terms of arable land and favourable conditions.
Every year, in November and December they host a flower festival in this little town. Originally, the festival was massive and sprawling, but this year it was split across a number of towns, to make it easier for people from all over Taiwan to experience the festival, and to make it possible for visitors to actually complete a tour in less than a day. So Xinshe was host to the Sea of Flowers, which was exactly that!
Now we should add that it took us three attempts to get to the festival, first due to bad weather, and then because the previously highly efficient and centrally located shuttle-bus service was relocated this year, for reasons unknown. However, after one stressful Saturday lost in Taichung, we finally managed to get ourselves organised the following weekend. Once we found the bus station, it was a breeze! Our South African understanding of a “shuttle bus” was totally wrong, as we took our seats on a massive luxury long haul bus, with lace curtains and a handy-dandy tray table! The drive took about an hour, climbing higher and higher into the mountains, and further from the city. It’s easy to forget that there are vast expanses of greenery and undeveloped nature in Taiwan when you live near the CBD of a busy city.
The festival itself was stunning! While there isn’t a lot to say about the Sea of Flowers itself, it was definitely worth the trip and we were very pleased that our previous failed attempt hadn’t put us off. While we were there on the last weekend, which meant some of the flowers had started to die, it was refreshing to see that the flowers were not painstakingly manicured and seemed mostly to just grow wild in the enormous field. There were some flower beds which had been planted in swathes of striking colours, and a few ornamental displays like a giant peacock topiary, but for the most part, it was like walking through a meadow from a Wordsworthian poem.
There were, of course, a number of food and drink stalls to choose from, but the strong smell of stinky tofu made it a little difficult to think of eating anything. However, we absolutely had to stop at a tea stall with three Totoros on the counter and the iced black tea was a perfect way to beat the heat as we strolled through the various displays and sections of field.
A sunny break in the otherwise rainy weather made the day perfect to go and wander. We certainly weren’t lonely as a cloud, though. The Sea of Flowers is a very popular spot, especially for young couples like us and dog lovers. We had been warned that the festival can be crowded, and we certainly had our fair share of abrupt stops to avoid photobombing the many cute couple selfies being taken. That said, it was not full to bursting, and the meandering families, walking dogs, and couples holding hands really gave the flowers their festival air.