Taichung is along the middle of Taiwan's west side. With a forecast of sun and only 40% probability of precipitation, I set off bright and early for my high-speed train ride. There are several ways to reach Taichung, including the long bus and slower train options. At 3 hours, the bus was definitely out of question for a day trip. The slow TRA train would be possible as they do run faster trains that can make the trip in a little over 2 hours. With this limitation, I did a lot of research on the net to find the possible combinations. The HSR website is a lot more user-friendly.
The skies were clear as we took off from Taipei southbound at 0836. The sea soon came into view around Taoyuan and I even spotted a plane taking off from the airport. Less than an hour later, the train pulled into Taichung's HSR station, which is in the outskirts and far from any of the attractions. I opted not to take the free shuttle bus into town but instead headed to the TRA station adjacent to the HSR station for the 10-minute ride into the main Taichung railway station. The TRA trains don't take Easycards, and their automated ticket purchase machines at their stations cannot allow the passenger to buy the next train's ticket or even see what time will the train arrive at the destination. Instead, the passenger needs to select the type of train out of a menu of 3, and then select the station. Clueless and indifferent as to which local or fast train to take since it's only a few minutes difference, I had to check the boards to find the train type, then go back to the machine to purchase the ticket. How annoying and what a waste of time for 18 New Taiwan Dollars.
It didn't help that the thermometer on the platform showed 35C.
It was standing room only.
The OLD train station dates from the Japanese colonial era, completed in 1906. The current look reflects the renovations made in 1917.
Buses are still a popular way to travel between cities. The fares are only a fraction of the high-speed train cost but the trip takes several times longer.
I was susprised to find a lot of southeast Asians, with plenty of stores showing Vietnamese and Indonesian signs. I did not know there was a large foreign worker community in Taichung. Some of the stores frequented by these workers juxtaposed against local herbal medicine shops. The first Chinese herbal shop in Taichung was established in 1948. The shops have congregated here, specializing in herbal teas made from traditional recipes.
Canopies are very popular in Taiwan's cities. These are great during the summer, when the blazing sun scorches the streets and the afternoon thunderstorms roar in. However, many of these canopies are occupied by eateries and motorcycles, which can sometimes be a challenge to navigate through.
Mopeds get their own little waiting box at the front of the line.
Wen Ying Hall hosts cultural exhibitions, including calligraphy and historic artifacts. It was a good air-conditioning break amidst the intense summer heat.
The Mayor's House was built in 1929 and was the home of opthalmologist Takekuma Miyahara. After World War II, the city government took over the building and used it as the mayor's residence.
Several gates mark the entrance to the city's Confucius Temple.
The Confucius Temple was quite deserted. It had the standard features of a Chinese temple, although from the look of the paint, it appeared to have been recently renovated.
Taiwan is not a very densely-populated island. Due to the persistent earthquake risk, skyscrapers are not that prevalent, which makes this green skyscraper stick out even more.
Mopeds are parked everywhere!
The National Taichung Teachers College