absolutely beautiful. breathtakingly, shutter-snappingly gorgeous. you see these scenes on the telly and it’s pretty, right, but it’s another thing altogether when you find yourself in the rolling hills and beneath the shade of the sakura. it was late in the season when we arrived, so while the trees weren’t effervescently blooming, they did hold a few late pink blooms – which was more than enough, coupled with the view it so wonderfully framed.
it’s not an eating town so much (one of the best things was the oden at 7-eleven), but the sightseeing makes up for it.
we woke up to this view from our minsu – it’s the misty villa, if you’re interested – and how amazing is that? bright sun peeking from between the clouds and a clear view down into the valley.
bear in mind, though, that if you’re visiting in chilly weather, most of these b&bs don’t have radiators. we had to climb straight into bed when we were frozen from the outside to make use of the heating pad.
it’s pretty startling the juxtaposition between the frantic cityness of taipei and the animal-filled rusticity of this place, where the loudest thing around happens to be chattering tourists (and a
tyrant photographer shouting instructions to a beleaguered couple).
there’s the option, as though we haven’t been nearly intrusive enough in these poor animals’ lives, to ride two beautiful horses and a smaller pony. they were some of the saddest animals I’ve seen – heads down and rather somber – and it makes one think about the less glamorous bits of our rampant holiday-making.
there are happier beasts to be found though, in the Mongolian-run ring further down the hill. you sit around this somewhat circus-like stage with international flags running the perimeter, and watch four beautiful horses and their gymnastic trainers doing fantastic tricks.
I understand, now, why the mongolians are said to have been raised on horseback – so much talent in this bit of backwater. they rode backward, forward, upside-down, while doing splits or planks – both of which I can’t execute even on firm ground.
there is a market of sorts at the exit to the farm, where I picked up a delicious piece of firm braised tofu stuffed with ground peanuts, pickled vegetables and coriander – incredibly savoury and more yum than I had expected for very little money, and some sausages claiming a mountain boar provenance (I’m guessing it’s just imaginative marketing).
cingjing is known for these big brown pears, visually similar to the bae ubiquitous in korean cuisine. they come huge, from palm- to head-size, and cost a pretty penny. it’s worth a try though, at least for its localness, but their skins are thicker and more tannic than their korean counterparts.
this place showed up a lot in the blogs I read heading up to the trip here, and while they might be ambivalent about the place (often citing the novelty of the everything-is-made-out-of-cardboard as reason enough to visit), I’m telling you to skip this.
yes, the place does have attraction seeing as how the chairs and tables are made out of the corrugated brown stuff, and food gets served in paper plates and bowls – but the food doesn’t really stand up to much eating. if you do visit, the chicken set meals fared better than the other meats, and the hotpot was passable due to the sheer fattiness of the cream-and-butter-laden soup.
I’m going to be nice and say it’s great for kids – the place is cute and the food passable for their untrained tastebuds. but as a paying adult, I would like somewhere more comfortable (where my legs have a space under the table) and with better food (or least some defrosted meat, instead of the frozen pork sticks that came with the hotpot).
南法牛排, or Nan Fa Niu Pa
come here for a meal instead, slabs of tender beef and bastardised spaggheti on hot plates. there’s a pretty good range of dishes available here (they do a mean stir-fried veg if you request for it), most a variation of meat on spag.
I didn’t get the address – but I’m pretty sure they’ll point you the way here if you’ll show them the picture! cingjing’s a small town, and actually – you’ll probably find this place if you walk back to town after your go at the farm, which is precisely how we found it.
- Carton King:
No.28 Dingyuanxin Village
Ren’ai Township, Nantou, Taiwan
+886 4 9276 3281
I’ve been accused of lying (HI STEFFI, THANKS, BYE): so full disclosure. we only spent one full day in cingjing sightseeing (cutting it down from the original plan for 2 nights), hightailing it back to taipei thereafter in search of less-green pastures – but 1. it’s because I am firmly a city girl, and 2. I stand behind everything in this post.
so my recommendation is to stay for a night, and you’ll have plenty time to explore. always better to leave wanting more, than to leave puking from more, I say.