Puli Wine Factory & Sun Moon Lake

Trip Start May 07, 2009
1
9
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Trip End May 19, 2009


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Friday, May 15, 2009

After breakfast in Puli Town Europe Stayhome, we took a short walk to Puli Wine Museum & Factory (埔里酒厂), which was only 800m away in the opposite direction of Puli Bus Station. While on the way there, I saw a mobile stall that was supposed to be selling betel nuts but it was not opened for business yet. I made a mental note to return and check it out.

Puli Wine Museum & Factory was situated on both sides of a road - the museum on one side and the factory on the other side. Not knowing whether the factory was opened to public, we went to the museum side. Across the car park and to one side of the museum was a damaged segment of the old wine factory as a result of the 921 earthquake in 1999. The old factory was completely demolished to make way for the new one, leaving the small relic as memento.

The objective of the Winery Cultural Museum (酒文化馆) was to introduce the culture of wine-making, especially the shaoxing wine (绍兴酒), a famous product of Puli, to visitors. The ground floor was the food department where all sorts of foodstuff made or cooked using shaoxing wine were for sale. The museum was on the second floor. We toured the museum first. In one section, there were many different types of Chinese wine on display. In another section, wooden tablets were used in a question-and-answer style to impart knowledge about wine to visitors. There were exactly one hundred Q&As (酒类百问百答).

Then we came to a section which displayed the urn making process. There was a walkway in this section where urns were stacked up on both sides as walls. Pictures of this walkway were frequently seen in many travel guides, blogs, websites, etc, and it was the key factor in catching my attention and "luring" me to this wine museum. We took several photos here before making our way to the food department. It was only 10.20am, but we did not mind having early lunch.

Almost all the food stuff sold here were made using shaoxing wine. We scouted all the stores and settled for those food stuff that were easy to consume not too heavy at this time of the day. We had shaoxing eggs (绍兴酒蛋), shaoxing-braised chicken wings and also some wine ice-cream. Flavour of the shaoxing wine was heavier in both the eggs and ice-cream but not that obvious in the chicken wings. I liked the eggs very much and wanted to buy some for my parents but there was a couple of days expiry period that would not allow me to bring it home. We also had Taiwanese sausages from a stall near the gate entrance to complete our early lunch. 

Then, we walked along the main road, Zhongzheng Road (中正路), to Puli Bus Station for the bus (NT$53 per pax) to Sun Moon Lake. We saw another betel nut stall, opposite the bus station, and went up to it but it was not opened for business. There were some empty boxes, with pictures of sexy bikini girls on it, in the glass shelf and I took a photo. Was it fated that we would not be able to try the betel nuts? Then, we crossed the road to Puli Bus Station. While waiting for the bus to Sun Moon Lake, I purchased two tickets to Taipei for the following day.

It was a short 30 minutes journey to Shueishe (水社) in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭: www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw). We were dropped off in the old town of Shueishe and quickly noted the return timings of the bus service on a notice board. Walking through the town towards where everybody were heading, we were fascinated by some beautifully designed souvenirs in some shops but did not buy anything as yet since we had not explored the whole area. However, I bought some red yam biscuit (红薯饼) to try.

Near Shueishe Pier (水社码头), we were asked by a man, in a captain's uniform, if we would want a yacht cruise. We showed him our pre-purchased yacht tickets, from Puli Town, and were immediately ushered to a waiting yacht. It was not full yet. The man was indeed the captain of the yacht, which was called Dazhuang II (大庄二号). We set sailed 10 minutes later. The yacht would make a predetermined circuit, lasting for 1.5 hours, and stop at three places before sailing back to Shueishe Pier. 

The first stop was Lalu Island (拉鲁岛), used to be called Guanghua Island (光华岛), in the middle of the lake. The island was considered to be the home of the Thao (绍族) ancestral spirit and was out of bound to tourists. The yacht moored near some floating docks that surrounded the island and tourists were standing on these docks to see the island and taking photos. Lalu Island was a very small island with two trees on it. Lalu Island used to be big enough to have a matchmaker pavilion (月下老人亭) built on it for tourists to worship the matchmaking god (月下老人), but it was reduced to its current size due to the last major earthquake in 1999. The matchmaker pavilion had since been shifted to nearby Dragon Phoenix Temple (龙凤宫).

The second stop was Xuanguang Temple (玄光寺) on a small hilltop just a short sailing distance from Lalu Island. We alighted from the yacht and mounted the stairs up to the temple. But there were just too many tourists posing in front of the temple, we gave up taking photos and headed back down to the pier. Right beside the pier was a stall selling tea eggs (阿婆茶叶蛋 or Granny's Tea Egg). We bought two eggs, which were extremely hot, and went back to the yacht. We waited for a while before eating it. And it was really good. 

The third stop was I Ta Thao (伊达邵), a village of the native Thao tribe. There were a few rows of shops selling souvenirs and food stuff to tourists and nothing much else to do, except walking up and down the lanes and took photos. 20 minutes later, we were back on the yacht for the return journey to Shueishe Pier. It was about 3.15pm when the yacht cruise ended. A mist could be seen on the other side of the lake.

We explored Shueishe old town but there were nothing much to see as well. Most of the shops and stalls were not opened for business - most probably due to it being a weekday. Instead of calling it a day, we decided to take a break and wait for sunset. And hoping that the mist would clear soon.

The cafe was situated right beside Shueishe Pier and named, in English, Coffee & Tea (码啡馆). In Chinese, "码啡" sounds like "吗啡" (meaning "morphine") but it was actually a short form of writing "pier" (码头) and "coffee" (咖啡). Chinese is a very interesting language. We ordered some hot beverages and waited until 5pm. Then, we set off along Shueishe Lakeside Trail to take some more scenic shots of the lake. We walked for an hour but the mist had failed to fade away and sunset never materialised. Disappointed, we made a U-turn back to Shueishe Pier and did a couple of night shots of the pier.

Before leaving Sun Moon Lake, I went back to a couple of shops in the old town and bought some souvenirs, including a 100ml plum wine named "Go Home? Oh No..." (忘记回家). There were several designs for that wine series but I could only pick one as there was a limit to how much I could pack into my baggage. The time interval for buses to Puli were slightly longer during the night and we had a long wait before the bus finally came. It was almost 9pm when we reached Puli and we were starving.

Friday Night Market (星期五夜市) was at a different location from Wednesday Night Market and further from Puli Bus Station. The night market was very crowded - maybe because it was a Friday night - and definitely bigger than Wednesday Night Market. We ate quite a number of food stuff, including burgers from a stall with long queue and spicy chicken leg skins. We were very full by the time we left the night market and headed back to Puli Town Europe Stayhome.
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