Having spent most of my life in cities, I’ve had little to no exposure to farms. So when my girlfriend suggested we take a trip to a sheep farm, I was a little surprised. What’s there to see in a farm really? A few sheep, some grass, maybe a Taiwanese redneck or two? Doesn’t sound too thrilling, but she insisted that it was quite famous. Having not taken a trip for a while, I agreed. So, we booked a trip to Chingjing farm (Mandarin – 清境農場.)
Chinging is located on Rénhé Road (also known as Highway 14A), a windy mountain road going through Renai Township of Nantou county. We booked accomodations at Sweden holiday, a little Swiss themed hotel built on the mountain side. Since we had a coupon, my wallet shed only NT 2400 (US approx $80) tears, but regular price is around NT 3000-4000 which is US $100-130 (depending on the room):
The rooms are quite nice – clean and spacious. The only thing lacking is interent access:
The balcony offers a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside and mountains:
Breakfast is included in the whole deal – eggs, toast, some unidentifiable but delicious vegetables, tea, coffee etc. There is also a nice area outside where you can eat and enjoy the fresh mountain air:
Sweden holiday also has a hotspring pool in the hotel. All in all, not a bad place. The contact details for the hotel:
- Tel :049-2803982
- Address: No.9-9, Rongguang Ln., Ren’ai Township, Nantou County 546, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
- Email: email@example.com
- Chinese website
Down a few minutes from the hotel is a little touristy area with attractions to occupy your time and take your money for an evening. You can find a shopping area with a few restaurants and trinket shops. Opposite the strip mall is another area which boasts a flower garden. Nothing too special here. In addition to real flowers, there’s a plastic sunflower lane,
a weird fish/duck food vending machine (I’m assuming it’s a sheep because of the proximity to Chingjing farm),
and the always necessary Taiwanese contribution to romantic cheesiness.
The best part of the flower garden is the fountain show at night. When it’s dark enough, the water dances to lights and music. Lasts about 10 minutes:
A day pass to the flower gardens (including the light show) is NT 120 (US $4). The light shows are at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30.
Another cute little feature of this area is the Carton King Restaurant. Everything here is made out of cardboard – the tables, benches, chairs,
and even “glasses” and plates:
The meals were priced around NT 300 – 450 (US $10 – 15) – quite affordable for a tourist trap restaurant. The hot pot which costs NT 450 is fantastic:
Despite all the novelty, I had an uneasy feeling in the restaurant. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but something was bugging me. I finally figured out what it was, but that’s a story for another post.
Cingjing farms is located about 5 mins up the road (north) from the touristy area. There is parking available for NT 100 (US $3) and entry to the farm itself is NT 200, which includes the sheep and horse shows the locals put on for visitors. Be ready to do a little uphill climbing if you take the south entrance:
It’s a 20 – 30 minute climb to the higher reaches of the farm. Once up there, you are rewarded with a view of the surrounding, always awesome, Taiwanese landscape:
From up here, you can also see the area where city dwellers are exposed to a sheep shearing show:
After a bottle of water, and a quick jaunt back down, we were face to face with the cute critters. You can buy little packets of food to feed them. These clothing factories are not the least bit shy, and will come right up and nibble the food from your hand:
The sheep shearing show is hosted by 2 guys, a Taiwanese and a Kiwi. The Kiwi guy has been doing the show for 15 years and speaks fluent Mandarin. I couldn’t understand what was going on, but judging from the reaction of the crowd, it was pretty funny. For me, it was strange and fascinating seeing a foreigner whipping up a Taiwanese crowd in Mandarin.
The show consists of running the sheep down a hill (complete with a dog nipping at their heels (hooves?)) and herding them through the audience. Then, there is a lot of undecipherable talking and laughing, after which the Kiwi shears a sheep in about 5 mins:
After the show, the audience can grab fistfuls of wool as keepsakes. Along with all this, pony and horse rides were also offered – mostly for kids. All in all, it was more fun than I had expected, and made for a nice escape into the countryside. Plus, now I can tell all my city friends that I’ve seen a sheep being sheared.
You can find Cingjing here: