Taiwan bus trip!

We met the rest of Grace's mom's side of the family the next morning to start on our two-day bus tour.

So... I don't know if anyone's familiar with Chinese (or Taiwanese) bus tours, but they're definitely something else. I guess there are bus tours in the USA but they seem mostly reserved for retirees. Not so in Taiwan. Bus tours are very common and cater to people from all walks of life. Plus, the buses are super swanky!

I should probably take a moment to note that Chinese (and Taiwanese, but particularly mainland Chinese, who make up a large portion of the clientele for these tour buses) have pretty non-Western sensibilities. In particular, things that might seem a little garish or over the top to Westerners (or myself) are often favored or at least taken completely in stride. So while I might poke a little fun at the buses, they were actually super comfortable and the minor differences from something you'd encounter in e.g. the USA are just that.

The highlight of the trip was our stop around midday at Sun Moon Lake (on Wikipedia). It is the largest body of water in Taiwan and a major tourist attraction. We got lunch near the Thao Visitor Center where I grabbed a few pictures.

After lunch we clambered back into the bus to drive around the lake to the Xiangshan Visitor Center. The building was a really pretty, modern design by a Japanese architect (not sure who). All concrete, but the outside is patterned to look like wood and the building seems to just grow out of the ground. Pictures will probably do it more justice than words.

Our next stop was at a museum and shop where they displayed urns traditionally made in the area and used to store some sort of liquor. Grace was still a little sick and feeling not so great after a day of travel, so we just rested outside. Grabbed a picture of the entrance.

You can see the urns on the left.

You can see the urns on the left.

Our final stop of the day was in a small town famous for its wood carving. The carvings were insanely detailed (and massive). Really cool stuff. Also really expensive.

We got dinner afterwards and then went on to the hotel. The hotel was really nice - located in an area known for its hot springs. Super fancy soaking tub and shower (the first one I really fit in so far in Taiwan). Great after being on the road all day.

The next morning Grace and I just slept in and tried to get over being sick (as both of us felt pretty bad at this point). The rest of Grace's family continued on with the tour but came back to the hotel for lunch, giving us the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone.