After a whirlwind of activities for the past 3 days (was it 3 days already?), we packed our luggage, and bid a very sad farewell to Hotel QUOTE in the morning.
We hired two taxis and spent about 1 hour on the road, heading to Hsinchu. Our destination? Windows on China, the famous miniatures park, where we could see the leaning tower of Pisa, Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and other historical buildings, all miniatures of course.
We arrived on a slightly gloomy, drizzling late morning, dumped our luggage at the customer services counter and proceeded into the park. The miniatures are all very well done, with intricate details craved into the buildings, though the weather had taken a toll on them.
We took the miniature train to the amusement rides section of the park, and the kids started to go crazy!
We first sat on the river boat ride, taking in more sights of the miniature buildings, and got warmed up. It was followed up with the mini Ferris wheel for the kids, then the vertical lift and drop ride, which even Lauren sat and giggled hysterically each time the ride dropped!
After that they ran to sit the log trains, then the mini Viking, and after that the crazy jeep rides which they went round the track 3 times.
We then took a break and sat the huge Ferris wheel, taking in the sights and beautiful scenery from the cabins. It was windy and cold but it was also serene and peaceful….
And after that, what’s there but more rides again!
But the biggest surprise was the roller coaster ride, which ALL the kids loved, even Lauren! It was a small but very fast roller coaster ride, and all of them clambered on board sat on it for at least 5 times! They each took turn sitting in the front, and switched seats after each ride, laughing with joy, so that was the highlight of the park for them. J After a quick lunch (again!) at the café, we headed to the indoor section where they sat on mini-bumper cars, and wandered through the indoor playground very much like Go Go Bambini.
By 430pm, the park closed and we meandered through the vast park and out the exit. We collected our luggage and asked the customer Service Officer to help get us 2 cabs as our next destination was Leofoo Resort, a safari-themed resort sum amusement park about a 5min ride away. Only 1 cab arrived though and by then it was getting dark and chilly. The lights at the park switched off and the place turned a little sinister, making the dads a little worried. We bundled all the kids into the cab and the women headed off to the Resort first, leaving the men there to wait for the 2nd ride.
Upon arriving at Leofoo Resort, we checked-in at the reception while the kids wandered out to stare in wonder at the animal enclosures right outside the hotel balconies.
Leofoo Resort is known for their unique hotel rooms directly facing safari animals’ enclosures. The hotel property is set in a huge ‘U’, and in the middle is a large paddock with giraffes, zebras, antelope, a group of flamingos in a shallow pond and 2 really big rhinos. Set slightly apart, is a lemur island where a big family of lemurs live, and in the stream, a garble of ducks.
Sounds cruel? Hmm, I guess to hardcore animal activists, it may appear so, but the animals appear very probably cared for, with healthy coats and premium feed for their food. We also spotted a 1 week old baby in the small family of zebras, and baby lemurs hanging on to their moms, so the animals must be happy and well-settled down enough to breed :) The hotel also took special care to outfit windows with reflective glass, so the animals were oblivious to all the spectators gawking at them.
We checked-into our rooms which was really spacious with 1 double and 2 single beds, for 4 of us. At teh end of the room, was the window. We tried to look out for the animals wandering next to our windows, but it was too dark, so we gave up and headed out for dinner at the hotel restaurant before turning in for the night.
8th November 2011
A bright and early morning – the moment we woke up the first thing we did was open the curtains to our hotel room window and woah, we were looking at natural animal behaviour at its best... You could see the animals up close, meandering about and going about their early morning activities.
We saw the flamingos preening their feathers, and dunking in their heads with their scooped beaks, fishing for food. We saw the giraffe wander by our window and gaze on the foliage left in containers on tall poles by their keepers, we saw the playful baby zebra play tag with its parents and galloping at break-neck speed around the paddock! And we saw the lazy rhinos wallow in the thick mud and snooze in the early morning sun. I plunked the girls on stools facing the window and left them there, totally mesmerised by the sight while preparing for our day.
We headed to the hotel for the breakfast buffet before grabbing our gear and heading out to the free shuttle bus to Leofoo Amusement park, just 2 min away.
The park was fairly quiet, which was great for us J There were groups of school children on excursion, but other than that, there was only a handful of people around. Divided into 5 parts, Leofoo amusement park is a sprawling and vast area covering 5 different ‘world’s, similar to Disneyland: The animals Safari section, The Western Americas section, the Middles East Section, and the Fantasy world section, and the wet park section, which is closed during winter months.
We headed to the animals Safari section first, where the children got to feed the ponies with carrot stick, pet the sheep and goats, see the orang utans, and lastly ride the miniature horses, something which Lauren did happily.
After that, we boarded the train for a ride out to see Buffalo, giraffes, geese, Hippos, wildebeests, mountain goats, and other animals. The herds of these animals were huge! There were numbers ranging between 20 – 50 and they had a lot of space to rest and move around, and breed, judging by the large numbers.
The children then headed off for another round of rides, spinning roller coasters, galloping horse and carriage ride, carousel, flying carpet ride, another carousel, scenic boat ride, the Viking, which saw all of us laughing at a giggling Lauren.
The cherry on top of the cake? The riverboat plunge that saw our TIMID Shannon urging her Daddy to go on it with her! It’s basically a river boat ride that brings you to the top of TWO mountains before plunging you down two ravines, one higher than the other, complete with water splashing, and almost guaranteeing you wet clothes. Shannon enjoyed it so much that they went on it again, surprising Mal and me, you mean this is our shy and timid girl???
Wendy and I also indulged in the scary adult rides, such as the 360 degrees CIRCULAR ride where you sit in a train which brings you 360 degrees round, and leaves you dangling upside down, the HUGE Viking ship (my favourite ride), and Freefall ride, which was so fast we were not prepared at all! One moment we were looking at the beautiful scenery at the top and the next, we were freefalling to the ground, so fast I think we left our hearts at the top!
But the scariest of all the rides was the screaming condor, a massive ‘U’ shaped ride, with an underground tunnel in the middle of the U. We get strapped in, with feet dangling, and we were hurtled at neck-breaking speed to the top of one end of the U, spiralling around the way. Once at the top, we hurtle back to the ground again, backwards this time, and back Up the sky again at the top of the other end of the “U’, and then to top it all off, we freefall back down again, back through the underground tunnel and back up again to the other end. This goes on for 4 more times before the ride stops. At the end of the ride, Wendy and I looked at each other and burst out laughing – our hair was literally standing out straight at the sides, the effect of the intense force of the wind!
While we the daredevil moms were playing with our lives, the responsible dads bought the kids to one of the park's ice-cream parlours to distract them and treat them to ice-cream.
Mal asked the kids to do 'Angry Face', 'Sad Face', and 'Happy Face!'
Alfred managed to get the bakers there to prepare a birthday cake in record time and sneaked it out without letting Wendy’s Mom see it, as it was her birthday! By the time we walked out of the park, it was deserted with only a handful of staff clearing up and heading home as well. The resort staff picked us up and sent us back to the hotel for a quick shower, birthday celebration, dinner and then its lights out!
9th November 2011
Shannon and I woke up really early and it was a very cold and rainy day today. We got bundled up in warm clothes and headed out to snap a few nice shots of the animals and of the resort before heading off to breakfast.
The kids headed off to the kid’s playroom for a while, while the dads packed up our luggage. Our last stop for this trip – Weichuan Pushin Ranch.
We left leofoo and headed to Weichuan in rainy weather. Weichuan Pushin Ranch is a commercial ranch which allows visitors to get up close on the workings of a cow farm. Weichuan supplies about 40% of the milk in the local Taiwan market, though the actual farm is not located here but elsewhere.
This vast farm sees many visitors during weekends, and there are pig races, sheepdog handling demonstrations, sheep wrangling, as well as cow milking activities. Besides free milk, and ice-cream, There is also a lake where you can boat, and you can also try our hand at soap making!
Alas, the weather did not cooperate with us, and it was raining and raining and raining when we arrived! It rained the whole day, and with the gusty wind blowing rain into our faces, it turned horribly cold. We managed to let the kids try their hand at making milk soap, and we managed to reach the barns to see the baby calves, mother cows, ponies and pigs, but that was about it.
We headed back to our chalet, and prepared for a night of bbq.
The customer Service officer was nice enough to allow us to bbq right at our veranda, and she sent a handyman to help to blow torch (yup you got it right, blowtorch!) our charcoal and fire starters to get the fire going. That was the quickest I have ever seen a bbq fire get going!
We couldn’t finish the heap of food we got in the meal package! Two packs of fish, 1 pack of pork, 1 pack of sausages,1 pack of Taiwan sausages, 1 pack of meat and fish balls, 1 pack of beef, 1 pack of chicken, 2 packs of rice cakes, 1 pack of mushrooms, 1 big green lantern capsicum, 1 pack of sweet potatoes, 1 pack of corn, and 1 bottle of coke, complete with a bottle of bbq seasoning sauce, black pepper sauce, and butter!
But it was great bbqing in the cool evening, sitting around the living room, eating and watching TV, haha!
The night temperature dropped to 20 with gusty winds and rain, and we switched off the air-conditioning in the house. I dressed the girls in two layers of pyjamas, and covered them with a thick quilt blanket before letting them settle down for the night.
10th November 2011
After a simple breakfast, we headed to the travellers shop and stocked up on milk sweets before leaving the ranch for the plane ride back to Singapore. We arrived at the airport very early, and wandered around the transit area until it was nearly time to take off, only to be told that the plane was delayed for 1/2hour. We then walked around some more and finally boarded the plane. And once on the lane, more bad news, Taoyuan Airport had closed all but 1 of its runways and now there was a jam of planes waiting for clearance to taxi off and depart off that single runway. The pilot announced that we would be stuck on the tarmac for another 2 hours! It was really lucky that we were onboard a SQ plane, and the crew turned on their in-flight entertainment system for us so the kids could stay entertained!
We touched down in Singapore close at 830pm, 2&½ hours past our original arrival time, whew!