As an American expatriate…in Taiwan, I felt the title was appropriate.
Sun Moon Lake is considered to be one of Taiwan’s foremost scenic spots as well as one of Taiwan’s top tourist traps. I’d say it is a healthy combination of both:
The views and landscape are excellent…
But then you also get a lot of these people…
Mainland Chinese tourists who like to take multiple pictures of me and my friend, Marlies, because we are the only two white girls on the boat.
The main “downtown” area of Sun Moon Lake is really just one street with many over-priced hotels and restaurants, as well as a Starbucks, Ten Sen’s Tea House, and a 7-Eleven. Marlies and I arrived around 7:30pm on a Wednesday night (yes, we missed the sunset) and most of the places were already closing down, so we amused ourselves by going from hostel to hostel to hostel trying to negotiate the lowest price we could find. And it was amusing…one woman tried to sell us a “love” room complete with an open glass door to the restroom and heart-shaped pillows that said “I Love You” on the bed.
Ultimately, we settled on a room for $1000NTD in one nondescript hostel (non-lake-view side and breakfast not included) after the landlady came running after us shouting “Cheap room! Cheap room! You come stay here!” Despite her forwardness–which usually turns me off from such people–she was extremely kind and helpful, offering advice about things to do around the lake and even running out to the station at nearly midnight to check the bus schedule for us. Taiwanese hospitality never fails to amaze me.
Somehow, we managed to get ourselves out of bed and down to the lake by 6am the next morning–armed with hot coffee and tea from 7-Eleven of course because that’s what you’re supposed to do at Sun Moon Lake right?
And then we waited.
And waited some more.
And that darn sun still wouldn’t come up over the mountain.
So we talked with the locals…
And then around 7:15am the sun finally poked its head up. But you already saw that picture.
The rest of the morning was spent taking a boat ride around the lake and then taking a short hike up to one of the tea farms. Overall, I enjoyed being on the boat; but if you go, don’t expect it to be a normal cruise. This had full-fledged tourist trap written all over it: included were ten minutes of boat ride, thirty minutes to explore a smaller island with a lot of stairs and a small temple and lot of Chinese tourists and a big group of Falun Gong members to bother those Chinese tourists, five more minutes of boat ride, ten minutes on the “floating island” which is really just some rafts with plants growing on them (innovative agricultural techniques, yes, but must I be shepherded off the lovely boat to go see it? I think not), and then about twenty more minutes back on the boat to where we started from. Yeesh.
The tea plantation was pretty cool, though.
And that was the conclusion of my Sun Moon Lake trip. Roughly 18 hours in somewhere-nowhere-Taiwan.