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COMPASS MAGAZINE, September 2003.


Enjoying the elevated pleasures of Dadu Mountain

By Tammy Huang
Translated by Yvonne Chen

     Dadu Mountain is actually two mountains, situated between Dajia and Dadu Rivers and bordering on Taichung City and Taichung county's Shalu and Daya towns. The two mountains span across Chingshuei, Shalu, Longjing, Dadu, Shengang, Daya, Wu Er, and Taichung's Hsitun and Nantun districts. Nearby cultural attractions, the natural environment, panoramic views and the nearby urban areas make this a popular place for local residents. Almost of all of Dadu Mountain's attractions are conveniently accessible from various parts of Taichung via TaichungGang Road, which runs up and and over the mountain on its way to Shalu town and Taichung Port.

     Day or night, there is plenty to see and do along Dadu Mountain, including long park strolls, shopping in among an eclectic combination of little shops, eating and drinking at restaurants and cafes and, of course, simply enjoying the great views of Taichung city and the coastline. Below are a number of options to choose from the next time you feel like heading up the mountain.

Multifaceted tourist sights

-Taichung Metropolitan Park
     As central Taiwan's first ecological park and the biggest metropolitan park in Taiwan when it was comleted, this 88-hectare facility offers a panoramic view of Taichung and the western coast. The vast grounds include grass areas, a star constellation plaza, biking lanes, art sculptures, a lake, a visitor center and a wildlife habitat display. All this makes it a fun and educational place for the whole family.
Directions: Take TaichungGang Road uphill towards Shalu and turn right on Dungda Road (opposite Tunghai University main gate). Turn left on Hsi-tun Road, and then right on Yu-Yuan Road, which runs along the top of the mountain.

-Old Tung Hai Fort at Viewpoint Hut
     This Japanese colonial-era fort is 294 meters long. Its mysterious feeling comes from the maze of complicated, underground tunnels which have spawned many ghost stories. Although many young people have tested their nerves here, people no longer go down to explore for safety reasons. The view of the Taichung basin and the seacoast, however, is still worthwhile.
Directions: Take TaichungGang Road towards Shalu and connect to Chung-Chi Road. Turn left at Yu-Yuan Road and then connect to Yu-Yuan S. Road. You will see it once you pass the Taichung branch of the Highway Motor Vehicle Administration.

-Tung Hai University
     Known for its beautiful grounds, the university is the favorite photo spot for weddings. Its beauty is presented with romantic roads and graceful woods. The Luce Chapel, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, is a must-visit shrine for religious followers and architectural enthusiasts. The Tung Hai farm is also worth a visit.
Directions: The main gate is on the left as one heads up the hill along TaichungGang Road, section 3.

Huang Hsi Old School (Ta Du Wen-Chang Temple)
     The century-old Huang Hsi Old School was built in 1888 during the Ching Dynasty. This national heritage site is the shrine of the Wen-Chang god. Its artistic value lies in its reliefs, stone and wooden carvings, and the interesting use of terracotta plates, pines and other materials. The expert sculpting techniques create an intricate and grand impression central to secular art.

   Directions (1): Take Provincial Highway 1 to Dadu town. Go straight on Wen-Chang Road in front of Village Administration Office.
      Directions (2): Take TaichungGangHarbor Road towards Shalu. Take the Shalu Overpass and connect to Chung-Chi Rd., sec. 1. Turn left at Chung-Hua Rd., sec. 1, go to Shan-Yang Bridge and then connect to Sha-Tien Rd., sec. 3. Follow Sha-Tien Rd. from sec. 3 to sec. 2 and take a right at the Administrative Office building onto Wen-Chang Rd., sec. 1. After passing Wen-Chang Bridge, turn left at Wen-Chang 1st Street and you will reach Huang Hsi Old School.

-Guomei Wetlands
     Guomei Coastal Wetlands covers 3.5 kilometers of coast around the Dajia River estuary in Chingshuei. The lush wetland ecosystems include tide pools, marshes, sandbanks, gravel, and mud pools. The different geological formations have spawned many bio-resources that make it a precious ecological habitat. During dusk, it is especially beautiful to sit on the embankment and watch the reflected sunset and the strolling birds.
     Directions: Take TaichungGang Road towards Shalu. Turn right onto Provincial Highway 1 towards ChingShuei. Follow Guomei Road.

-Taichung Wuchi Harbor
     This is the place for fresh seafood, with many food stands to choose from. The inexpensive, fresh-from-the-boat seafood includes fish, crustaceans and mollusks, and is prepared as specified by the customer (i.e. steamed or deep-fried). Afterwards, take a stroll at Harbor Park, enjoy the sea breeze and listen to the waves.
Directions: Go straight on TaichungGang Road towards Shalu and connect to Chung-Chi Road. Turn left at the gas station. Follow the signs to the harbor for about five minutes.

-Chingshuei Service Area
     This rest stop on the Second North-South Freeway opened in June. The spectacular night view attracts many visitors. The facility is complete with viewing deck, shark aquarium, outdoor caf?and small shopping center with souvenir stores, a supermarket and reasonably-priced food court. For information, contact the service desk at 0800-000-076.
     Directions: Take TaichungGang Road towards Shalu. After Tung Hai University, take the Longjing Interchange onto the freeway (Rt. 3), heading north. It's at the 173-kilometer mark on the freeway, about two kilometers after you get on the interchange.

-Guo Ji (International) Street
     Forget about sweating outdoors. How about a place to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee? This area is filled with a wide variety of teahouses and cafe, as well as unique shops to dig for treasure.
Directions: Take TaichungGang Road towards Shalu and turn right on Guo Ji Street.

     Great outdoor dining with panoramic night views

-Moon House
217, Tung Da Rd., Sec. 2
(04) 2461-2208
Hours: 10 am-2 am
Credit cards accepted
The owner of this place instantly knew that this was the spot to build his second dream. The gazebo, walkway and wooden chairs are reminiscent of Canada's Prince Edward Island. The foods are a mix of Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Lady Thigh (NT$220/small, NT$450-550/large) is a time-consuming stewed pig's knuckle without the greasy taste. Grilled bamboo shoots (around NT$100) use select, tender Dakeng bamboo shoots for a rustic taste that is great with dressing. Coffee (around NT$100), homemade cakes, sweet moon cakes, and pine leaf cakes (NT$200-300/box) are great afternoon tea choices.

-Niu Ting Tou
176, Hsi Tun Rd., Sec. 3
Hours: 10 am-9 pm (closed Mondays)
Credit cards not accepted
After a long walk, a glass of cold, refreshing winter-melon tea is guaranteed to hit the spot. This teahouse mainly sells cold drinks from about NT$40 to NT$60 (hot tea is NT$100-300/pot). The recommended drink is a winter-melon tea with fresh fruit and herbs. Tea snacks are a must (NT$30-50): seaweed, congealed blood cake, bean curd, thick toast, and the addictive turnip cake with scallion eggs. Set meals (NT$99) and petite hotpots (NT$130) are also available; beef stew with rice, sweet and sour fish with rice, and kimchi hotpot are the most popular. On a good day, sit out on the patio and let the mountain breeze and warm sunlight wash away the fatigue.

-Yeh Shih Chieh (Night World)
20-26, Hsiping South Lane
(04) 2461-7197, (04) 2461-0175
Hours: 6 pm-2 am; (opens 5 pm weekends/holidays, closed Mondays)
Credit cards not accepted
180 degrees of great views are the draw at this place, which mainly serves grilled and stir-fry dishes. Although known for its strict quality, the prices are reasonable and preferred for companies and group gatherings; a substantial stir-fry plate costs NT$500 to NT$600. The grilled dishes are great too: spareribs and lamb chops are NT$100 to NT$250. Young couples favor the patio caf?next to the restaurant; drinks are NT$180-200 with a minimum charge of NT$50.

-Night Flight Restaurant
107, TaichungGang Rd., sec. 3, 23F
(04) 2355-6789
Hours: 12 pm to after midnight
The relaxing restaurant, located on the top of a high-rise office building on TaichungGang Road near Cheng Ching Hospital, easily offers one of the best views of Taichung to be found anywhere. Besides the indoor area and a balcony outside, there are two separate glass boxes--perched on the roof edge and filled with romantic tables--that offer amazing views. There is a NT$500 minimum charge to dine here. Medium-to-high-priced, Western dishes include Rib Eye Steak with flame (NT$888), Lamb Cutlet Provencal with olives and garlic, and Salmon Steak with mustard seed (NT$668). There are also plenty of snacks, soups, salads, beers (NT$168), coffees, teas and othe drinks. If you're lucky, you'll bump into Hero, the owner's big, friendly Weimaraner dog.

-Bu Yeh Tien
199, TaichungGang Road
(04) 2633-8719
Hours: 6 pm-3 am
Credit cards accepted
This self-service grill sits on along a Dadu Mountain stretch of TaichungGang Road, just off Longjing interchange for the Second Freeway (Rt. 3). The large outdoor area puts one with nature and the night view differs from other areas: the stream of cars on Second Freeway is clearly visible and the car headlights only add to the view. The barbeque is great and paired with fresh, abundant food (NT$30-100), special "secret" sauces and wonderful aromas. Satay Chicken Kabob (NT$50) uses the proud owner's secret sauce. Beverages include tea, coffee and light wine, all costing around NT$100. Discount coupons are available for up to NT$500. Charming views and a bustling beer house atmosphere make this is a great place.

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