wedding photography singapore p01a

wedding photography singapore p01a


A Taiwan Farmstay Part 2: Back to Basics

The farm is about 20-25 minutes' drive from Taitung city. The speed limit there is most of the time 60 km/hr, coupled with the fact that half the journey was uphill driving on narrow roads, the farm is really just a stone throw's away. It's called Taiping Ecofarm (loosely translated), or 太平生态农场。It's not an animal farm, but a small scale fruit and vegetable farm run by sole proprietor Mr Hsu. He took it upon his mission to educate people on "living on self-sustainability" and making use of green resources wherever possible. It is also through this green initiative that he hopes can create employment to the aborigines in Taitung.

Here, we have to make our own fire to boil water for hot baths, we would be given orientation tour to the world of frogs and creepy crawlies in the mountains as well as the way of agriculture. Truth be told, I regrettably only stayed there for one night, fearing the kids might not adapt well to the "back to basics" lifestyle. Only later on then I knew that this was the highlight of their trip, and any subsequent accommodation and itinerary were subject to comparison to 许先生's farmstay.

The views that greeted us as our car lumbered up the hilly terrain.
 Welcome drinks: refreshing ice plum vinegar and a mean cup of cafe latte.
Bees, frogs, caterpillars, stag beetles, praying mantis, grasshoppers, spiders, cicadas, and many other unidentified insects were our constant and welcomed companions. There were also two dogs on the property, which proved popular with the little girl after the recent death of our family dog.

 "tis the season for plums, and plum wine. Fermentation in process.
We were lucky to have the whole estate to ourselves as it was a weekday and the local summer holiday had not begun. The host Miss Huimei wasted no time in getting things started. First off, she got us to craft our own "twig pencils". Check out the boy's apprehension as this was the first time he came close to an electric drill. :)

 Then we were happily "exploited" as free labour and sent to the shrubs to harvest more plums.

The coats were to repel the insects and the sometimes sharp branches. Remember, this was summer and the heat was a bit sweltering even though we were in the relatively cooler mountains.

After the half-work-half-feast, Mr Hsu taught the kids how to start a fire by introducing to them some simple law of air circulation. That fire would boil hot water for our use. Mr Hsu also helped the kids make hot stamps on wood, which in turn were transformed into key chains.

As night fell, the heat gave way to cooler temperature. As we walked 400 metres downhill to a coffee plantaion which doubled up as a steamboat restaurant, we were lucky to catch hold of the big and red full moon, high above the city of Taitung.

Night time is the time when more things happen, so said Mr Hsu. Indeed, we found a ball of frog's eggs that were wrongly laid in an inhospitable place, two stag beetles wrestling with each other, and the best part was the walk through a series of "secret underground passages" that enabled us to have a cross section view of the life in the soil. It was made all the more memorable for the children because of the dramatic and entertaining way Mr Hsu conducted the tour.

 We ended the night with a hot foot bath overlooking the city. This was requested by the boy. It was a good substitute for an onsen, which he had been clamouring to go, but otherwise quite out of the way.

I was literally woken up by the sunlight. This was only 5a.m.
 Lucky to catch the gorgeous sunrise.

 After a simple, nutritious and delicious breakfast, the kids were introduced to rope climbing. Only successful climbers can go inside the treehouse. Even though it was quite difficult for them, they grit their teeth and finished the course because the treehouse was simply too alluring for kids.

 The place was overrun by hundreds of these orange-legged insects 黄脚瘦腰蜂。They do not sting humans, but their needle-like tails are like those of an expert acupuncturist. These "bees" would stick the tails into the backs of these crickets or grasshoppers to immobilise them. After that, they would dig holes in which to bury the paralysed victims. The "bees" would lay eggs inside the victims, which as you might have guessed, became fresh food for the babies after they hatch.

And so, it's time to say goodbye. Till we meet again.

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