July 20, 2008
Nantou - Ching Jing Farm
Known for its lush agricultural plains and dramatic mountain landscapes, the central county of Nantou is one of the most beautiful areas in Taiwan to visit. So over the next few weeks I'll be highlighting some of the areas of note.
Ching Jing Farm
The "Yamingshan" (read massively popular tourist destination) of Nantou is this mountainside farm. I use "farm" loosely here, because as far as I could see the "farm" consisted of 6 sheep and 4 cows. Still there is a lot of lamb served up in the restaurants in the surrounding area so one assumes they have a hidden flock somewhere (apologies to vegetarians but fresh lamb is hard to find in Taiwan).
Entrance to the farm costs NT$100 for adults and NT$10 for children under 100cm and animal feed is available at the door should you wish to let a ram get a bite to eat. Actually it is worth watching the tourists feeding the sheep to see the shocked looks on their faces, as most people in the cities never come this close to real livestock. There is also a sheep shearing “show” on weekends and holidays at 9:30am and 2:30pm and the farm is open from 8am to 4pm daily.
The main attraction, at least for me, was the scenery. At over 2,000 meters elevation, the foliage is more European and the views are simply breathtaking.? On a clear day you can see a fair amount of the central mountain range and you really feel like you are on top of the world. The air is fresh and you can easily find an area of grass to lie back on and enjoy the environment. In fact space is something that isn't always easy to find in Taiwan, and the amount of grassy space here is wonderful.
There is a mini adventure playground, which is fun for kids and adults alike. Well okay more for the kids, and in general this is a great family destination.
You can try some sheep's milk ice cream inside the farm, and as you'd expect, there is a lot of food available at the stop before the farm.
As far as parking goes, it is best to park at the main stop before the farm then take the bus up.
The stop is most civilized, and if you are craving a coffee from a well-known brand, you won't be disappointed.
I should mention that if you driving around the area, there are some fantastic views, and it really is worth starting out early and taking your time. There are a couple of reservoirs that are beautiful and there are plenty of places where you can park.
As well as the established coffee shops perched precariously on the mountainside providing fantastic views (see also Lalashan), there are also enterprising coffee vans along the way where you can get some refreshments and soak in the natural beauty.
If you notice that some of the mountains have major scars, then you are witnessing the after effects of one of the greatest natural disasters to hit Taiwan, the great earthquake of September 21st, 1999. More of this in the next post.
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