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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Taking a Break - A Daytrip to Xitou

Renee Poon

My last mid-term examination was endless and tough, so a day trip to Xitou (溪頭) would be perfect for a break. My friends and I joined a cultural trip organized by the Office of International Affairs, so we did not have to do any planning for our Xitou trip while wrestling with our exams.

All photos by the author
Before the trip, I did not expect much; and that’s why I had so many “WOWs” afterwards. On the morning of our trip, we spent several hours at the Xitou Nature Educational Area. Here we learned a lot about the Xitou area. For example, Xitou means, origin of the river.” During the Japanese occupation, Xitou was used for practical training by the agricultural department of Tokyo University, and then, in 1970, it became a forest recreational area as well as continuing as an area for forest research for National Taiwan University. 
 


Our coach driver told us that we should go to the University Pond. However, with our unclear map, we simply could not be sure where were we going and how far would it be. Nevertheless, we had a great time doing this kind of “treasure hunt.” On our way to the pond, trees surrounded us on every path, breezes blew, and birds sang. It was terrific to be embraced by nature after living next to the night market for so long.
 
We were sorry that we did not make it to the giant trees; those who did make it told us how amazing it was walking “above” tall trees at the Sky Walk on the way to the giant tree. Although my friends and I did not get a close look at the giant tree, we pretended we did as all the trees there were so divine and refreshing to us. After a short lunch break, we headed to the Monster Village, an approximately 15-minute walk from the Xitou Nature Educational Area.


There was a hotel in the Village, Ming Shan Hotel, along with a small monster-themed commercial area. We discovered all sort of weird things like “bite the cat bread.” This is not a kind of bread that looks like a cat or that will make you want to bite a cat if you eat it. It is a kind of bread that is made with a poisonous herb that will make you itchy if you don’t prepare it properly. The village also has lots of ancient, Japanese-cartoon-style architecture.  This commercial area isn’t very big at all, but it is worth spending a little time there. I will definitely back to the Monster Village again for the foods since time flew too quickly this time. 


Before I visited Xitou, I was told that it was kind of boring. Therefore, I was surprised that I enjoyed this short trip very much! I think the feeling in the group you are with and the purpose of the trip are the things that matter. I had my friends with me, and I could escape from exam stress for awhile. It was just what I needed. While Xitou may not be the ideal place for you, you should still give yourself a break when you under a lot of pressure. Some people say Taichung is a bit boring, but it can be fun if you have the right companion and find somewhere you haven’t been to or even noticed before. You might want to try this out after your final exams!

Xitou Nature Educational Area: http://www.exfo.ntu.edu.tw/sitou/cht/
Monster Village: http://xitou-kuma.okgo.tw/


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