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Yilan, Taiwan – Yoshino Cherry: A Minsu which feels like Home

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿A homely and comfortable minsu I stayed at while in Yilan was at Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿. The spacious two-storey house is the home of Chen-jie 陳姐, who stays with her family at a smaller house just behind this main building. The minsu is named Yoshino Cherry as Chen Jie’s husband likes cherry blossoms, and the minsu is also home to some cherry trees.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I like the feeling of being welcomed into a real home as opposed to checking into an unfeeling hotel room when I travel. The airy living room made me want to sink right into the inviting couch (which I did at night, chatting with my friends, Chen Jie and her husband before heading to bed).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There are only 4 rooms at the minsu, with one of them having 2 rooms (that’s why there are 5 keys here). Each room has a different theme, and opening each room door brings a gust of anticipation.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The Eiffel Tower room is the only room located on the first floor. It would be good for elderly who cannot climb up the stairs or couples who want more privacy (which was taken by the only pair of lovebirds in our group).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I stayed at the Royal Earl Room. Something tells me it will be my kind of room from the crown painted on the room sign.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Woohoo! Grand-looking Victorian bed, red chandeliers and a silver couch – #like. It comes with a balcony too.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I was lusting after the Rose Garden Room too – just look at the gorgeous rose headboard with matching rose cushions!

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The Mediterranean Room comes with 2 bedrooms, so it would be suitable for a family or 2 couples.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿I felt like singing “Under the Sea”…kids would like this room.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Welcome to Greece…well even for just a wall mural. I like the four-poster bed and cosy ambience.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Yoshino Cherry is surrounded by farmland so it would be lovely to have a leisurely high tea at your room balcony and basking in the serenity of Yilan’s naturescape.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Are those hearts I see in the garden?

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿High tea is served every afternoon, and Chen Jie prepares everything herself. One unique thing about this minsu is that it offers one free DIY activity for its guests daily – it can be baking pastries with Chen Jie, or a pottery class with your little ones.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Guests are welcome to use the kitchen. I can almost film a cooking show in this huge space!

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The big kid in me was pretty happy with the swing I discovered at the back of the garden.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There is also a children’s play pool. I lost no time in getting pally with the resident Willy the whale. In addition, the minsu has some electric mini cars which are a big hit with kids so parents won’t need to worry much about kids getting bored. The minsu can also arrange for BBQ for you.

Places you can visit near the minsu include Luodong Night Market 羅東夜市 and Dongmen Night Market 東門夜市 which are about 15 minutes away by car, and Sophisca 菓風小舖 a popular DIY candy store is only 5 minutes drive. Kavalan Whisky Factory 金車威士忌酒廠 and several parks are also nearby (see their website under ‘Scenic Spots‘).

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿We checked out the field opposite the minsu after high tea. Look at those papayas! If only they were ripe…

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Most of the areas around were rice fields.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿There were small patches of vegetables grown as well, such as spring onion. They must be one of the plumpest spring onions I have seen.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Brinjals

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Time seems to slow down here where life is simple.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The highlight of this minsu for me is definitely their breakfast. It is one of the most delicious and nutritious meals I have had. Chen Jie serves Chinese or Western-style breakfast, and both are just as good. Chen Jie epitomizes the spirit of minsu owners very well – we feel her warm hospitality and passion to make her guests feel at home from every little detail at the minsu.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿Yoshino Cherry presents their guests with a souvenir before they leave. Chen Jie used to be a special needs teacher before starting the minsu, and these handmade soaps are made by her former students.

Yoshino Cherry Minsu吉野櫻民宿The road ahead is long, and I know not what awaits. So just smile and enjoy the present moment :)

Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿
Address:
宜蘭縣員山鄉惠好村賢德路二段91巷10號
Tel: +886 3 922 7900; Mobile: +886 939 930 116 (Chen Jie 陳姐)
Email:yeafua@yahoo.com.tw.
Website: www.sakurabnb.com.tw
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YilanYoshinoCherryBedandBreakfast
Room rates start from TWD2,400 to TWD11,000 to book out the entire minsu (good for 12 pax)
Nearest Public Transport: Yilan Train Station宜蘭火車站or Yilan Bus Station宜蘭轉運站; followed by a short taxi ride (about TWD220 – abt USD6.80/SGD9.90)

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Taiwan – Experience a Scandinavian Getaway at Yilan’s North Zart 北方札特

Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿
From natural environments, cold/hot springs to a wealth of scenic attractions, Yilan is one of the best areas in Taiwan for a leisurely getaway with loved ones, and North Zart is one of the most unique and beautiful minsu in the region. Made entirely out of wood, it feels as if you were momentarily transported to the cabin lodges of Europe.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿North Zart is located about 15 minutes away by taxi from Yilan Train Station. It offers 13 rooms for doubles all the way up to 6 persons in a room split between two buildings. If you are travelling in a big group (more than 10), you can consider booking a whole building exclusively.

Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Santa Claus greets you as you approach the entrance of the wooden cabin building. Feels like Christmas all year round!Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Amazing sunshine smiling down at us. The minsu can help to organise BBQs outside here at night.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Lovely outdoor area to chill outYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The minsu built the palace theme building a year after the opening of the wooden cabin theme building. The owner conceptualized the design of the entire area, including the landscaping and gardens outside. Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Amazing living hall which comes with a deepsea aquarium and a TV capable of playing 3-D movies.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿For the literary ones, pick up a book from its library and immerse in a good read at a favourite corner in the minsu.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Lovely decor all aroundYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The fragrance of Chinese fir used to build the minsu permeates the spaceYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The owner Mr Lin, is a coffee aficionado – you definitely have to ask him to make you a cuppa coffee. We enjoyed chatting with him as he shared with us more about the minsu. I must say he is very meticulous, as you can see the thought and effort that was put into setting up the place, and all the little things done to give the place a warm, homely feel. His family helps to run the minsu too.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿How I am feeling right now – happily contentedYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Breakfast is served at the basement of the wooden cabin building.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿It offers a typical Taiwanese breakfast.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The double room was spacious and well-stocked with beverages and snacks.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The bathroom was just as spacious.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The Rrom for four persons came with a fake coconut tree lolYilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿I loved the balcony which overlooks the garden.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿Some of the rooms also overlook the rice paddy fields behind the minsu which belongs to Mr Lin.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿And one of the highlights of the minsu – a cold spring! What an amazing treat!Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿The minsu by night looks surreal, and I am tempted to laze my vacation away all day.Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿We got into a little mischief at Luodong Sports Park nearby (you can borrow a bicycle from the minsu for a nice ride in the morning) – with some fireworks and sparklers :)Yilan: 北方札特 North Zart 民宿We enjoyed our stay at the very pretty North Zart as well as exploring Yilan’s attractions. As public transport is not readily available in Yilan, I would suggest you book a car or take a taxi. By day you can explore numerous scenic areas such as Meihua Lake, Wai Ao Beach (black sand!), Turtle Island or attractions such as Lanyang Museum and Jimmy Plaza while by night you can visit Luodong Night Market for some local eats. Jiaoxi Hot Springs is also not too far away.

北方札特 North Zart
Address: 269, Taiwan, Yilan County, Dongshan Township, 廣安村廣興路682巷132號
Email: espcat@gmail.com
Tel: +886 918 612 581
Website: http://www.northzart.com.tw
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NorthZart
View Map https://goo.gl/maps/WgqGJNMR7pS2
Booking website: http://www.kitravel.com.tw/booking/northzart/index_en.html
Room Rates: http://www.northzart.com.tw/contact-fee.html
Getting from Taipei to Yilan

Bus
1) Kemalan buses (葛瑪蘭客運) at Taipei Bus Station Taipei Main Station. Fare: About NT$129 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website: http://www.kamalan.com.tw/route.php
2) Capital Star buses (首都客運) at Taipei City Hall MRT Station near exit 3. Fare: About NT$120 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website: http://220.128.122.55/businfo.html

Train
Taiwan Railways to Yilan Train station. Travel time: About 1hr 30mins. Fare: TWD 200 – 250
Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA): new.twtraffic.com.tw/TWRail_EN/index.aspx
Train ticket prices: service.tra.gov.tw/tw/ticketprice/excel.aspx


Getting from Taoyuan International Airport to Yilan
By Bus:
1) Take Kuo Kuang Express buses from the airport to Taipei Main Station. Travel time: About 1hr 10mins. Fare: About TWD 115
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)


Getting from Kaohsiung to Yilan
1) Take THSR train to Taipei Main station. Travel time: About 2hrs. Fare TWD 1,490.
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)

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Taiwan – Living in History at 銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

欢迎来到銃樓民宿 Welcome to Chong Lou Minsu!

When visiting heritage-rich Kinmen, there is nowhere better to stay than a historical resident house. These traditional southern Fujianese 闽南 buildings often came with a rich history and heartening stories as Kinmen was the site of fierce fighting between Communist and Nationalist forces when the latter withdrew from the mainland in 1949. I stayed at Chong Lou Minsu 銃樓民宿 located in the Shuitou village cluster.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

One of the most distinguishing cultural characteristics of Kinmen would be the red-bricked Min-Nan style architecture and villages, mirroring those found in Zhangzhou and Quanzhou where most Kinmenese immigrants came from.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Shuitou in Jinchen Town was a community inhabited mostly by the Huang clan. The 18-house complex of the Huang clan, constructed during the Qian-lung reign is characterized by its lower gates and walls, wide roofs, smooth and flat stone plates in the yards, and alleys between houses leading to narrow passes.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Spotting the signage for our minsu

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Chong Lou Minsu was the movie setting for a Taiwanese idol drama Summer Fever 戀夏38℃. It was the home of the main actor Ah Kuan 阿宽。This signage at the entrance was left untouched after the movie was completed. It’s also easier for us to identify which is our minsu out of the umpteen houses along the row!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Poster of Summer Fever proudly displayed in the minsu

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

这不是阿宽,是阿凯 This is not Ah Kuan, but Ah Kai who loves to get into my camera frame lol. Scoot! :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Looking at the western-style Quanzhou white stone wall house built in 1934, I felt like I stepped back into history. Nice.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Shuitou villagers mostly engaged in agriculture or fishery, which may explain the use of fishes to adorn the house exterior. Fishes also mean abundance “鱼=余” in Chinese so it’s a prosperity symbol.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

OMG, this is the first time I am seeing a hand-drawn well pump, and it works! Someone quick pass me a bucket of clothes to wash haha!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

I may be living in history, but I still have wifi to link me back to civilization! Phew, and I was just about to hunt for carrier pigeons ☺

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

An air of serenity greeted me at Kinmen; everything just slowed down and bade me to enjoy the calmness…a hard-earned one considering the years of war the island had gone through.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Say ni hao to the minsu owner Sister Li. She is a burst of energy and so friendly! She used to drive a 小蜜蜂 or Little Bee, which is a truck selling snacks and everything you can think of to the army boys around Kinmen. Maybe that’s why she has a motherly feel about her, and very huggable haha!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The main hall of the minsu decorated with cultural momentos and memorabilia

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The wind-lion god 風獅爺 is something very symbolic of Kinmen. Seen here as part of a chess set.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Side hall

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Little courtyard perfect for a little chat or intimate meal gatherings

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Kitchen

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Chong Lou has rooms that can accommodate 1 to 8 people. They come with the essential basic amenities such as air-con, TV, wifi and ensuite bathroom.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Exploring the rooms upstairs

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Large enough for the whole family or a group of friends

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

I was intrigued by the stairwell with an iron grille. In the past, residents would lock up this stairwell when they slept at night to prevent pirates from sneaking in and kidnapping them. Of course, there is no need for that now.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

And here’s my cosy little room! Shucks I should have brought my cheongsam to match the ambience lol

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Toilet equipped with bath towels and shampoo/bath gel. And flushing system :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

It’s a nice, sunny day to explore Chong Lou’s surroundings!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Most of the Min Nan style houses here are relatively well-preserved. I was soaking in the atmosphere with much enthusiasm, and couldn’t stop taking photos.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Jinshui Elementary School
The building of Jinshui Elementary School in 1931 at the sponsorship of overseas Shuitou natives marked the beginning of new-style school architecture in Kinmen. During the Japanese occupation, the school had served as a wartime makeshift hospital. It was later transformed into an elementary school.

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

A very important place to note just opposite the school – food! :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Look what I spotted growing just beside Deyue Tower 得月楼 – a tree full of longans! Yumz!!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

All in a day’s work

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

The minsu provides a hearty breakfast. Just come eat with the rest of the guests at the communal dining hall, very village-feeling indeed. And a great way to make friends :)

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

This Cantonese porridge, a Kinmen delicacy, was chockful of ingredients and delish to the max! And I am still thinking of it…

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

Bon Appetite!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

A group photo of us all from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore
We may come from different parts of Asia, but we are one happy big family in Kinmen!

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu, Kinmen 金门

And the 2 monkeys showing how much they enjoyed Kinmen :D

銃樓民宿 Chong Lou Minsu
金門鎮金城鎮前水頭84號
Tel: 0980 988 077 / 0919 761 231 (Look for 李碧玉 Li-jie/Sister Li)
Website: www.5657.com.tw/baewan
Email: libe03@yahoo.com.tw

Getting to Kinmen
You can reach Kinmen by domestic flight in approximately 1 hour. Flights are aplenty daily from 3 domestic carriers from Kao Hsiung, Taipei, Taichung or Tainan. You will fly to Kinmen Airport金門尚義機場。

Another way to get to Kinmen is via Xiamen International Ferry Terminal or just from Wutong port which is close to Xiamen airport (around 30 mins). Another way is from Quanzhou Shijin port which takes about one hour (Taiwan passport only).

When to go Kinmen?
Kinmen worth visiting all year round. The annual average temperature is around 21 degrees Celsius, though it can get quite hot in summer (hats and sunscreen are a must unless you are aiming for aboriginal-worthy tan skin). There are northeasterly winds during the winter and the rainy season runs from April through to September. Travel between Taiwan and Kinmen is often affected by heavy fog during early Spring.

In spring, admire the golden sea of rapeseed flowers. In summer, hang out on the beach. Autumn is the best season to feast on fat yellow fish and crabs. Come winter, migratory birds make for an impressive sight.

Map of Kinmen: bit.ly/KinmenMap

Getting to Chong Lou Minsu
Map:
http://www.5657.com.tw/baewan/p04.htm
Public Transport: Take the public bus from Kinmen Shang Yi airport to Jincheng Bus Station金城車站, change to Bus 7 towards Shuitou Village水頭村莊. Alight at Li Gong Suo Zhan 里公所站, turn left and walk 1 minute to the minsu.

Pick-up from airport or car rental (with GPS navigation) can be arranged by the minsu, contact Sister Li via mobile or email for more details. You can ask the minsu to help arrange for sight-seeing activities as well. I would recommend getting a driver/self-drive if you can so as to save travelling time and see more attractions. It’s pretty affordable.

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