Day 3: Nanzhuang, Miaoli to Sanyi, Miaoli
This morning, we headed south to Dahu township in southern part of Miaoli which is well known for its strawberries. December was the start of the strawberry harvesting season so we went to pick strawberries. The strawberries here were of a small variety and also because it was still early in the season. There were many strawberry farms along the road and you just pick whichever that fancy you.
Then we went to see Longteng broken bridge which was damaged by earthquake. You can still see the beautiful structure of the bridge. This railway bridge served the Shengxing railway station which is now abandoned. It was the highest altitude railway station in Taiwan in its time. We went there too. The rustic place provided many nice photo ops.
We went to Chateau in the Air, a restaurant in the mountains for lunch. It was quite busy for a weekday. The restaurant was in a pretty European style chateau. You pay NTD200 per person, including kids aged 7 and above, to enter the compound but you can offset this from your restaurant bill. I suppose it was to deter those not intending to dine at the restaurant from crowding the place.
Set lunches range for steaks to seafood. Each set came with soup, appetizer, dessert and a drink of choice. It is not cheap will sets ranging from NTD500+ to NTD900+ for the most expensive sirloin steak. I had the sirloin and must say that it was nicely done. I asked for medium rare and it came out just right. We all had steak (sirloin and ribeye) except my mum who had the seafood platter. She said that it was delicious too. After lunch we took a walk around the chateau which had lots of photo ops. All in all an enjoyable meal in a pretty setting.
One negative here was the inexperienced waiters. Once they spilled a whole glass of ice water on my son, and another time dropped a knife that could have hurt someone. They were apologetic but did no other service recovery. Most expensive restaurants would have offered a free drink or dessert for example. But none here. Maybe they just had a bad day.
After lunch we headed for our minsu, Joye House (or Zhuoye House, Zhuoye Cottage), 卓也小屋. Joye is built in a village type style and had an indigo dying DIY activity. We had book ourselves for the afternoon session.
At the Indigo Dye DIY activity, we were taught how to create designs for the items we chose and then how to dye the items to the shade of our desire. You can choose to dye drawstring bags, tshirts, shorts, scarves etc. It was a fun activity for both young and old and our completed creation was a good souvenir of our visit too.
Joye House had 2 room types. Barn Room or vip room. We chose the barn rooms as coming from the city, we wanted a rustic flavor. We had a quad +1 and a double room. The sleeping area of our barn rooms were the silos of the barn. Very cute. The 4 pax room had a loft with a double bed and another double on the ground floor. The extra bed was placed in the loft. The beds were actually just mattresses. The rooms were set next to the pond which had ducks and geese. A very pretty sight. But alas! when night falls! Never did I know geese could be so noisy! If you need absolute quiet, then never stay in the barn rooms, that’s my advice. Better get the VIP rooms. The price of the barn and VIP rooms were the same when we checked. We chose the barn rooms because we wanted something different. But the geese were really loud so some of us did not sleep too well that night. Others didn’t even notice any sound!
This was a lovely place to stay a night and do the indigo dye. Oh, by the way this place serves vegetarian food only. We had a set vegetarian dinner which came with hot pot. Breakfast was Taiwanese porridge with vegetarian dishes. It was definitely an experience for my carnivorous kids. I enjoyed breakfast, but thought that dinner was so so, but that is probably because I am a meat person too☺
All in all, we enjoyed our stay at Joye House despite the noisy geese. It was well worth a one night stay to experience an old Taiwanese village and the DIY Indigo Dye. I won’t stay more than one night as, firstly, I can’t take vegetarian food only for more than 2 meals and secondly, there was little else one can do there.