Experienced travelers know that travelling is more than just viewing famous sites and taking pictures of them. It is also about experiencing the local culture. It is to get close and personal, to understand and learn, and to enjoy the company (and food) of locals. One way to do this in Taiwan is to stay at a homestay where essentially you are a guest in a local family’s home. They will most likely have many rooms set up like a Bed and Breakfast. I did this in the Lalashan area.
|My host family|
My recent travels to Taiwan had been to the big cities, but a huge area of Taiwan is mountainous. However, transportation to these areas for a solo traveler tend to be difficult. Using Google Maps I started clicking on homestays in the Lalashan region and seeing if they had a website with English or a Facebook page where I could message them. Fairyland had a Facebook page and I messaged them. Very quickly I got a response back in perfect English, which I later found out was the daughter of the owners. I explained I would like to visit as a solo traveler but needed help to get to their homestay. She said she would work on it. A few days later she said another small group was coming and that we all could ride with her father from the Taoyuan train station up to Fairyland Lalashan. Not only that, but we could stop at a few cultural sites on the way up.
The road to Lalashan is one lane wide in many areas with large trucks coming down. I was glad I did not attempt to drive it. It was also under repair, possibly from washouts from recent typhoons. The steepness of the mountains was amazing and it’s amazing a road got built at all. We finally reached Fairyland Homestay. It appears to be recently built and the rooms are very large. Most with balconies with views overlooking the mountains to the west. We got treated to a beautiful sunset. Available downstairs were snacks and fruit. The breakfast was traditional Taiwanese and was a special treat to experience home prepared local food.
The next day we got a ride to the Lalashan Forest Reserve by the host father to see the huge ancient cypress trees and have a nice hike in the forest. They were breathtaking.
So what about my hosts? They were amazing. While they did not speak much English, the other travelers could translate for me. And the host mother even called her daughter to speak to me to make sure everything was okay. Is it true what you have heard about Taiwanese hospitality? I will say yes! What I felt from this host family was that they were not doing things out of a duty but that they had a genuine sense of caring and they wanted me to enjoy my experience in Taiwan.