Back To Nature
By Clara Lock
When you’re looking to frolic through lush green fields a la The Sound of Music, a trip through Taiwan’s countryside is likely to unleash your inner hippie. Break out those picnic baskets and stick a flower in your hair, because even the most hardened city slickers should get ready to be charmed
All Farmed Out
If all the fresh produce you’ve ever seen can be found in the aisle of a supermarket, it’s high time you step away from Facebook and into the real world. Visit a cow ranch, or have a go picking the seasonal harvests on a fruit farm. We guarantee you’ll appreciate your food a lot more when you see where it comes from.
When Cows Fly
If the only cows you’re familiar with are the ones sliced up and served medium rare, head to the Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli to get up close and personal with these domestic darlings. From Taipei, trains take you to Miaoli in 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on the type of train. Both day trips and overnight stays at the ranch are available.
Fulfill your farming ambitions and have a shot at milking the cows, or buy a handful of pellets and vegetables to have the goats, lambs and bunnies bleating in delight as they feed out of your hand.
More at home in the kitchen? Try your hand at making butter, ice cream, cakes or cookies at classes offered by the farm, and then enjoy the fruits of your labour with a glass of cold milk or a dollop of milk ice cream, available at the gift shop.
For dinner, tuck in to a massive, hearty milk steamboat, which features all the trappings of a usual steamboat simmering in a milk-based soup. Sounds funky? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. The soup, which is laced with steamed egg and deliciously thick without being cloying, is a favourite among visitors.
Good crop, bad crop
Massive, mooing creatures not your cup of tea (or milk)? Plan a trip to the Toucheng Leisure Farm in Yilan instead, which is an hour’s drive from Taipei. Have your pick of their seasonal harvest, which includes honey peaches, grapefruit, wax apples and the Chinese New Year staple, kumquat, which they export to Singapore.
The farm is also home to acres of rice paddies, and if you aren’t afraid to get down and dirty, make like a farmer and try transplanting rice seedlings. It’s hard work, but you’ll work up an appetite for lunch, which you can roast in an authentic kiln. Your corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes and roast chicken will taste all the better for it.
When you’re done with the outdoorsy stuff, participate in the nightly lantern festival, where you can scribble your hopes and dreams on a paper lantern and then release it into the sky.