Off the beaten tracks of the usual city life and the bright lights of 夜市, nestled deep in 南投竹山 is a simpler life that most of us city dwellers yearn for. I recently spent 2 days of my trip to Taiwan enjoying this simple life.
We stayed in a cosy guesthouse with an equally dreamy name. 天空的院子 is situated on really steep slopes and because of that, when you stand at the yard and look out into the distance, you see rolling hills, blue skies and clouds. The view if you can wake up in the morning to watch the sunrise is even more enthralling.
If you would like a short escape from the hectic city life and get away from it all, this is the place to be.
竹山 is what most city dwellers would call ulu. However, the town at the foot of the hills has many surprises. Here are some of the shops we found in a day of browsing and walking about.
Above an abandoned bus station, is a beautiful and aptly named cafe, BeYoung Garden has her decor completely made from bamboo! The one thing they do not lack in 竹山.
竹青庭人文空間 No. 27號, Caiyuan Road, Zhushan Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 557
Even the QR code is also made from bamboo. How cool is that! I tried, can scan! 🙂
The people here love the simple life. A lot of what they do are efforts to save the earth. Most of what they make is from sustainable materials. Of course bamboo plays a big part! I bought bamboo straws and toothbrushes from him to bring home to Singapore as gifts. He can personalise them too, for a small fee.
元泰竹藝社 557, Taiwan, Nantou County, Zhushan Township, Dingheng Street, 1-1號號
This is yet another workshop that showcases stuff made from sustainable materials. I bought bamboo toothpicks from him! They are super thin and can get into the gaps between your teeth easily, yet it is tough and almost unbreakable.
好貨 557, Taiwan, Nantou County, Zhushan Township, 菜園路46-1號1樓
Of course, when you get hungry, some cute steamed buns with bean/meat filling can fill you up while you are on the move. They purposely make their buns so attractive, so that children would be attracted to and want to eat them.
八重勝手創饅頭 No. 23-5, Caiyuan Road, Zhushan Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 557
When we first arrived in town, we saw 2 huge wall murals. We found who did it! 🙂 She’s a young artist that has made a career out of her passion. Earlier in the day when we were walking about, we saw her at the foyer of the abandoned bus station teaching old folks how to paint.
AxMon手繪工作室 557, Taiwan, Nantou County, Zhushan Township, Dingheng Street, 1號隔壁
This shop pops every type of grain you can think of. Except corn. So, no popcorn. Haha! Rice puffs are his most common products. When we were having lunch at the bus station, there was this drink which was made from his rice puffs. It was delicious and filling. Could have been a meal on its own.
啟明米麩店 No. 31, Xiaheng Street, Zhushan Township, Nantou County, Taiwan 557
Our last stop was a blacksmith shop. It’s 3rd generation and more than 150 years old. The first thing uncle told us about, was not of his knives. He pointed to the wall and enthralled us with how his shop was built by his grandfather. Out of mud bricks. Anyway, he uses a very traditional way to make knives, showing us how he combines steel and iron to make the perfect knife. BTW, if you want to custom build a knife, all you need is to draw it on a piece of cardboard and give it to him. When we arrived, he was making a boar hunting knife. I think there’s a demand for it in Singapore, considering our ballooning wild boar population.
來發鐵店 557, Taiwan, Nantou County, Zhushan Township, Xiaheng Street, 45-1號