spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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Taiwan – Xitou Monster Village 溪頭怪物村

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町“You definitely have to visit Monster Village when you are coming to Nantou!” my Taiwanese friend excitedly recommended. Thinking it was a haunted theme park, I went with much trepidation. The fear turned into pure glee when I realized that Monster Village is a kooky Japanese-style village located at the entrance of Xitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區). And the monsters were cute ones – 大好きな!This monster-themed attraction is especially popular with domestic day trippers to the Nantou area since it opened in 2011, drawing more than 200,000 visitors monthly.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Entrance of Monster Village

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Before its fame, the place was originally Ming Shan Hotel (明山森林會館) serving mainly domestic visitors. A food vendor selling sausages nearby decided to use a giant red Japanese Tengu face with a long sausage nose for publicity. As more and more people got to know about the humorous publicity gimmick via social media, the hotel got so many calls asking about “this monster sausage place 妖怪村” that they decided to re-build the resort into a monster-themed village. As for the sausage seller – he shut down just months before the hype materialised so he never got to cash in on that success. He did try to set up stall again, but wasn’t able to compete with the other sausage stalls which had also set up. Well, that’s life sometimes…

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Here’s the famous “sausage nose” lol

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Village Square

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

There are lots of good photo points, so be sure to bring your camera, and smiles :)

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The attraction adds a new monster to the village every year, and these greenies are this year’s latest additions. Not sure if they are ducks, relatives of Shrek or whatever haha.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

There are regular shows at the village, such as this fortune-telling monster.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Making a wish and sending it over to the monster for advice

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Fancy a ride on the Monster Train?

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Cute shuttle bus

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Off we go to explore the shops and eateries!

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Even the dads get into the ‘act cute’ moments

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Erm, excuse me but there are 2 monsters above you…

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Oopsie!

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Monster Mail
I wonder if they get delivered, or devoured in monster speed too

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Play a game with the Lucky Lion 招财狮, and collect your prize at its very strategic location! *shy* So shy my photo was blur lol

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The nostalgia started flowing when I saw these game stations

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Drum up a monster tune

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Or flaunt a monster fortune

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Mountain King 山大王
The story goes that the Mountain King is an unlucky but kind man who becomes a mountain guardian to protect the good and punish the bad.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Get your fortune told by the Mountain King for TWD10, that’s definitely a bargain haha

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Japanese-inspired elements are prevalent at the attraction, such as this pool which you will find at most Japanese temples.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Bubbles are fun

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Decorative carts which make good photo points

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Scheduled music performances at the centre of the village

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Look around you and you may spot something tongue-in-cheek – such as this movie poster for “Anus Man.”

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Boo!

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Food stalls and shops line this road leading to the Xitou Forest Recreation Area

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

They do not have KFC here, but they have KEC with a geisha hen as mascot

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Fancy an eyeball dumpling?

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The Black-Hearted Shop sells black sesame and matcha soft serve, licky licky!

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Happy food vendor

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Even the drinks are packaged so interestingly

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

A lot of locals will go hiking at Xitou Forest Recreation Area in the morning, and stop by here to buy some local vegetables on their way home. They are really fresh and cheap.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Drooling at the peaches…I want to dive right in and eat them all up

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Get a photo taken with Kuma 枯麻 (a sun bear) and Badou 八豆 (a clouded leopard), the two main mascots of the village.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

We spotted a long queue forming in front of Kubota bakery久保田面包店, waiting for the freshly baked ham and cheese bread called咬人猫面包(man-biting cat bread) which is sold only at 10.30AM and 2:30PM daily.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Start queuing 20 minutes before if you wish to try, and each person is only allowed to buy 2 pieces to ensure enough supply. You may want to keep the bread wrapper too – there’s a serialised number which you can see if you have won a prize from the village.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Ta da, the famed ham and cheese bread

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Be sure to stop by the Monster Post shop to grab some souvenirs. They are all designed and produced in-house, so they make really good presents.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The items are all very tongue-in-cheek, so come with your sense of humour and you will definitely enjoy your visit :)

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Cheeky snacks

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Blood Pack Lamp

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

A cheeky take on the country’s famous Kinmen Kaoliang – this one is Gangmen (anus in Mandarin) Kaoliang lol

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Sweets with very witty packaging

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The many ways to say good bye
Give it to your frenemy or an admirer who cannot get the hint

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Hmmm…

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

This, was an instant hit with my male friends who asked me to buy for them lol. Sorry to disappoint, I don’t think the milk sweets really work that way :p

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The ladies will know what this is… it’s actually just tea with an alternative packaging

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

This one is interesting – it’s instant cup noodles packed in a rocket carton haversack

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

A good gift to get for your branded female friends – cakes with LV-inspired packaging

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Feeling hungry? Try their signature wood fire-roasted chicken

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The ambiance of the restaurant is retro 60s, quite cool

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

八豆妖?
The Hokkien for “Are you hungry?” And yes, Taiwan Beer is “very song” haha

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

We had the set menu for 10pax. At TWD2500, it worked out to be about only S$10.50/USD7.80 per person, very affordable and we ate like kings and queens.

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

The chef (yes dressed in soldier uniform) helping to cut the chicken for us

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Mmmmm…the fragrant smell! Can’t wait to start eating!

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Preserved Vegetables with Braised Pork Belly

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Braised Yam

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Fried River Shrimps

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Fried Pumpkin with Basil Leaf

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Hotplate Tofu

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Fried Mountain Vegetables

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

Sweet Sour Fish

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

And of course, beer!
These are Taiwan Beer with the attraction’s own branding

Monster Village 溪頭怪物村 / 松林町

I had so much fun, I am turning into a monster myself! lol

Monster Village is not really big so you can cover it quite quickly, but the beauty of the place unfolds when you take time to go around and appreciate the little touches and effort put in to make the place fun. It’s also a great place to buy souvenirs home (I had many requests from friends when I uploaded the cheeky snacks on social media). I would recommend setting aside 2 to 3 hours to visit Monster Village.

 

You can combine Monster Village with nearby attractions in Nantou, or go hiking at Xitou Forest Recreation Area in the day time. The forest belonging to the National Taiwan University houses a great variety of trees including cedars, rare redwood species as well as bird / firefly watching activites during the right season. Go on the Skywalk for an aerial view of the nature reserve.

 

 

 


Xitou Monster Village
溪头松林町 妖怪村溪头妖怪村
No. 2-3, Xingchan Rd, Lugu Township Nantou County, 558, Taiwan
南投縣鹿谷鄉內湖村興產路2-3號, 558
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10:00AM – 8:00PM; Sat & Sun: 10:00AM – 9:00PM
Free Admission
Website: http://www.mingshan.com.tw
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheMonsterVillage

 

Getting There

1)
Sun Moon Lake – Xitou Shuttle
Take the Sun Moon Lake – Xitou shuttle bus line which covers attractions in the Nantou area.

 

2) Taiwan Tourist Shuttle 台灣好行
Take Taiwan Tourist Shuttle at Taichung Gancheng Bus Station (台中干城車站), Taichung Train Station (台铁台中站), or Taichung HSR Station (台中高鐵站). Get off at the last stop- Xitou (溪頭) and walk about 5 minutes to Nantou Monster Village. A one way ticket costs NT175 per person, and round trip is about NT330. Take note that the last bus from Xitou to Taichung is 1720hrs, so it will be wise to get your bus tickets back once you reach Xitou to avoid missing the last bus.

 

3) Public Bus
Take Taichung Bus or Yuanlin Bus from Taichung Gancheng Bus Station (台中干城車站) directly to Xitou (溪頭)/Shanlinsi (杉林溪). Get off at Xitou and take a 5-minute walk to Nantou Monster Village.
Read more of my travels in Taiwan

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Taiwan – SHIFEN十分放天灯: Sending Wishes to the Sky

Shifen Sky Lantern

Sending the Queens’ shopping list to the sky :)

Shifen Sky Lanterns

The two most popular attractions in the quiet town of Shifen would be the Shifen Waterfalls (nicknamed “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls”) and Shifen Old Street where visitors go to release sky lanterns. While you can release sky lanterns all day long, we planned Shifen as the last stop of the day after Jiufen (about 30mins away by car) with since it would be nicer to release the lanterns at night.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Releasing sky lanterns (放天灯) is a significant ritual in Taiwan and the most notable places to do that would be Pingxi and Shifen. It’s a fun experience for most visitors to Taiwan (and the locals too); there’s just something very alluring about being able to write your wishes on a lantern which would carry your prayers to the sky (祈福) – think of it as a direct courier service to heaven.
Releasing sky lanterns is so popular that thousands of people gather for the annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival every 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Shifen Old Street
Shifen got its name as there used to be 10 families living in the town (ten portions). Shifen Old Street is the most famous stop along Pingxi Branch Rail Line. The 13km rail line was originally built in 1918 to transport coal and was re-purposed as a tourism route in 1992. All the shops sell either sky lanterns or souvenirs.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Seal your love with a declaration to the sky

Shifen Sky Lanterns

And off the lanterns go, higher!

Shife Sky Lanterns

And the train goes past…whoaaaa *hair flies up* (luckily not the skirt)
Notice how close the shops along Shifen Old Street are to the train line. It’s also pretty interesting – and dangerous – that visitors actually stand on the tracks to release the sky lanterns, and have to shun when a train comes along. Talk about an adrenalin rush. But worry not – the shopkeepers are all very familiar with the train timings and will ask you to get off the tracks before the trains pass through.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Colour-coding wishes
The sky lanterns range from NT$100 to NT$150 depending on the number of colours chosen. Apparently each color represents a wish (e.g red=health and peace, yellow = money luck) so the more wishes you have, the more you pay.
You can also choose to add a string of firecrackers at the bottom of your lantern at an extra cost, perhaps this will gain the attention of the heavens and grant your wish faster? Since I was just in for the fun of it, I went with just one basic colour at NT$100.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Budding Picassos
I was amused that we were given calligraphy brushes to doodle on the lanterns. The last time I held one was in elementary school when I took Chinese painting lessons. And looks like XT had other ideas with the brush. I’m not the canvas!

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Having so much fun

Shifen Sky Lanterns

The Queen’s Lantern
Ta-da! I’m sure you weren’t expecting a ‘normal’ wishing lantern from me, riggght? *wink*

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Setting off our sky lantern

Sky Lantern in Shifen

Fly strong & high…
It was kinda surreal to watch it rise. Curious, I asked the shopkeeper what happens to the sky lanterns. Apparently they stay in the air for 8-10minutes, float to the mountain behind and then fall back to the ground after the candle finishes burning. The shop pays workers to pick up the fallen lanterns afterwards to dump away. Oops. Sorry to burst the bubble…still it’s a very fun thing to do. You should try it! I had a lot of fun.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

Bring home a wish
I bought a few of these home as souvenirs and gifts for friends. They look great hanging by the window.

Shifen Sky Lanterns

It was a poetic end to a long but absolutely fun day exploring Yehliu, Jiufen, Jinguashi and Shifen. No trip to Taiwan would be complete without seeing all these locations at least once.

Travel in a Day by car: Yehliu 野柳 > Jiufen 九份 > Jinguashi 金瓜石 > Shifen 十分

More on Taiwan:
Taiwan – Blooming Delights and Cultural Richness in Daxi 大溪
Taiwan – Nature’s Wonders at Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園
Taiwan – Jiufen’s 九份 Golden Nostalgia
Taiwan – Urban Respite at Beitou Hot Springs 北投溫泉
Taiwan – Tamsui 淡水:Of Romantic Sunsets & Tantalizing Snacks
Taiwan – Jingguashi 金瓜石:Goldmine of Yesteryear
Taiwan – SHIFEN十分放天灯: Sending Wishes to the Sky
Taiwan – Sun Moon Lake 日月潭: Picturesque Nature

Explore Taiwan with Spunktitud3!


Getting to Shifen

By Bus:
MRT Muzha Station (捷運木柵站) -> No. 15 Taipei Bus (台北客運15路公車) -> Shifen (十分)

By Train:
1. Take the train to Ruifang Station (瑞芳站) at the Taipei Railway Station (TRA). It’s where Taipei Main Station is – follow the underground signs to get to TRA. Train schedule: http://twtraffic.tra.gov.tw/twrail/English/e_index.aspx
2. Alight at Ruifang Station and buy tickets for the Pingxi Line (平溪支線). Take the train to Shifen Railway Station (十分火車站). Rides are unlimited on the Pingxi Line.

Taking a Taxi from Ruifang Station
You can save some time by taking the train to Ruifang Station, and taking a taxi there. The prices are regulated by the authorities and clearly indicated, so the taxi drivers cannot overcharge. Save even more by sharing a taxi with other travelers going the same way.
Single destinations: Jiufen (九份): NT180; Jinguashi (金瓜石); NT240, Shifenliao (十分): NT480; Shuangxi (双溪): NT600
Packaged destinations:
– Package A (NT$1,000)
Ruifang Railway Station (瑞芳火车站), Nanya Rocks(南雅奇石), Yin Yang Sea (阴阳海), Thirteen Level Refining (十三层遗址), Gold Waterfall (黃金瀑布), Jiufen Old Street (九份老街)
– Package B (NT$2,300)
Ruifang Railway Station (瑞芳火车站), Jiufen Old Street (九份老街), Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布), Shifen Old Street (十分老街), Taipei (台北)
– Package C (NT$2,000)
Ruifang Railway Station (瑞芳火车站), Jiufen Old Street (九份老街), Yehliu Geopark (野柳风景区)
– Package D (NT$2,800)
Ruifang Railway Station (瑞芳火车站), Nanya Rocks(南雅奇石), Yin Yang Sea (阴阳海), Thirteen Level Refining (十三层遗址), Gold Waterfall (黃金瀑布), Jiufen Old Street (九份老街), Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布), Shifen Old Street (十分老街), Taipei (台北)
*Prices for reference only. Check the prices when you are there.

Driver
If you are looking to hire a driver, you can consider Mr Liu 刘先生. He’s a burly uncle who used to be a truck driver, and very honest. He charged us a very reasonable per day rate, brought us to all the places where the locals went, and none of those touristy crap. And we felt safe with him. You can give him a try if you wish. Mr Liu’s Mobile: (0)988-121-529.

Another contact you can try is Lucky Zhao +886 913 185 157, slightly pricier but good service and speaks well.