August 29, 2013
Bali Taiwan Style

If you're looking for an adventure and convenient way to get out of Taipei City, Bali District is a great place to start. It's very close to Taipei City, easy to reach and offers a variety of activities for the suburban explorer: history, culture, food, drinks, shopping and more. Bali used to be a sleepy rural village, but its prehistoric past has put it on the map. Taiwan's earliest inhabitants lived in this area, as evidenced by the prehistoric artefacts (from the Neolithic era) found here, and an entire museum has been built to introduce and preserve the Shihsanhang culture (see Activity 3 below).

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The Bali District is located in New Taipei City's northwest area, directly across from the river city of Tamsui. Boat, bus, bike, MRT, motorcycle and car are all transportation options to get there. However, since you're on vacation and may not be familiar with the geography, the easiest, quickest and cheapest method is via the MRT (Mass Rapid Transportation - the subway system in Taipei) and ferry.

From the Taipei City Train Station MRT stop, it only costs $50NTD for a single journey ticket and takes about 35 minutes to reach the Tamsui MRT station. After getting out of the MRT station, head directly to the river to catch a Bali bound ferry. It takes about five minutes on foot to reach the departure points, and many ferries are available departing every few minutes and only costing around NT$24 for a single journey for adults and NT$12 for children (you can use your EasyCard - http://www.easycard.com.tw/english/index.asp). The ferry ride is a quick 10-minute ride. Try to get a seat by the edge of the boat and don't forget to take lots of photos of the view. The ferry ride provides a wonderful opportunity to get a grand view of Tamsui, Bali and the surrounding area.

After disembarking from the ferry and heading up the dock, you will find yourself smack in the middle of Bali's welcome area. Here you will find a mass of people and lots of stalls offering a variety of local snacks, drinks and souvenirs. If the crowds aren't your thing, just head left or right along the river bank to break away from the masses and find a bit of open space.

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Bali is not really big, so it is easy to get around on foot or bike. For this writer, the best and most interesting way to explore Bali is on bicycle. There are lots of trails (walking and biking) connecting the area, so rent a bike to see what the area has to offer. Renting a bike is easy, cheap and convenient, and you will find bike rental shops near the ferry dock. You might even get to meet the Taiwanese Mounties!

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Activity 1: Snacks, Drinks and Souvenirs

  • As with anything in Taiwan, food and shopping play a key role in any activity. Bali is no different, so one can find a cornucopia of shops selling everything from fresh local seafood and specialty snacks to tasty cold drinks and souvenir trinkets.
  • Try a local snack or drink. If something looks tasty and smells interesting, I am sure you won't regret making a purchase. On a hot summer's day, a nice cold sour lemon drink will certainly hit the spot and cool you off. If you're hungry, go to one of the many restaurants offering local seafood. Many of the restaurants offer English menus, so ordering should not be an issue.

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Activity 2: Walking and Biking Along the RiverBank Trails

  • Motorcycle and car free trails connect the area and run along the riverbank. There are lots of little parks in the area, and places where children can run around and play on swings etc.

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Activity 3: Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology (http://en.sshm.tpc.gov.tw/html/ensshm/shcomment.jsp?cparentid=223)

  • The Shihsanhang Museum is a great historical museum that nicely introduces Shihsanhang culture through easy to understand visual displays and artefacts unearthed from the site.
  • The first thing you will notice is the special design of the museum's building and architecture. It's a pretty simple design but the combination of concrete and steel make the building stand out. Just a reminder that the museum's entrance is located below ground and the exit is located on the third floor.
  • According to the museum's website the objective of the museum is to be a centre for research, conservation, collection and display of cultural artefacts unearthed at the Shihsanhang site.

Activity 4: Formosa Fun Coast (http://www.formosafuncoast.com.tw)

  • If the heat is getting to you, head over to the Formosa Fun Coast to cool down. It's a great water park to relax in and enjoy the many different water slides and water activities. General admission is $650NTD per person, but it would be better to check their website before you go to check for the latest info.

Who'd have thought you could come to Taiwan and get to see Bali on the same trip?


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