In Taiwan, there are days where getting out of the sun is essential, and today was one of those days. Our language-exchange took us to Shuanglienpi; a streamy-mountainous area west of Yilan. A Google search (in English) will tell you very little, and you won’t find it in Lonely Planet either. To the locals, however, it’s riverside at which to relax, BBQ, drink some beers, catch tadpoles, or even get your wedding photographs done.
According to speculation, there is a unique water-plant here that is so reliant on the particular geography of Shuanglienpi that it grows nowhere else in the world. What do you do with a unique and vaguely gelatinous water-plant? Why eat it of course! I thought its cool, sweet, yet herbal flavour was something I could get used to. Charlie thought it tasted like “pond.”
The other thing to do is plaster its leaves to your face. This whitens your skin (something that the Taiwanese are into), cures acne, can be used as sunscreen or even a moisturiser, said a restaurant manager as she pressed fistfuls into our hands. Cautiously, I delicately plastered mine onto a patch of arm I thought I could do without if this plant turned out to be less-than-friendly. The sticky patch left on my skin was a cooling and not-exactly-unpleasant experience.
After lunch, we drove up to the river, which was like Taroko in miniature, complete with Jurrassic-esque trees, spoiled only by two Jurassic-sized bees. Unfortunately, while I was largely indifferent to the sticky leaf-patch on my arm, the bees were magnetized to it, and latched onto me precariously. I decided to take a no-sudden-movements approach reasoning that the bees would sip-up the sticky patch and bee on their way. Sure enough, three minutes later they were done with me and hopped on over to Charlie, who decided to take a more panicky/screamy approach. Fortunately this is Taiwan, and helpful strangers are never far away. A gaggle of grandmas were both amused and concerned by Charlie’s reaction and ambled over to help. A spare tea-towel was produced from nowhere and with a deft flick of the wrist, one grandma managed to hit Charlie on the bum and completely miss the bee!
Eat: There is a farm/restaurant that you shouldn’t miss. Everything on the menu is grown within eyeshot of the establishment. Wholesome farm-fresh food, serene views, around NT$120 (£2.64) per dish. Follow the main road and look out for the chickens.
Drink: June seems to be the start of passion fruit season, drink it with ice. NT$40 for a large cup.
Walk: There is a lake in the area that would make for a picturesque thirty-minute circular stroll. The path is a little tricky to spot, but follow the road with your eyes on the lake and you’ll find it.
Wade: The river is clean, cool, and an excellent place to paddle.
Sleep: The farm/restaurant also offers accommodation.
Follow Arjie Road up into the mountains. We stopped at the third group of parked cars by a bridge.
Thank you to Audrey, Anakin and their wonderful children for showing us this one and taking such good care of us!