30 Minutes To Makung:

Exploring the Gateway to the Penghu Archipelago

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For breakfast or lunch you can try the surprisingly good 'tu tuo yu gen' at the famous Hsiang Hsiang Tu Tuo Yu Gen restaurant (­»¨É¤g¦«³½Ã¼). In English the only way I can describe it is chunks of lightly breaded fish and other mystery things in a warm soup of sticky goo. It tastes much better than that description implies. Apparently this restaurant has been at it for quite awhile and is widely acknowledged by the locals I talked to as the best there is.

The most unusual restaurant in Penghu must be the Da Fang Guang (¤j¤è¼s) combination restaurant and art gallery. Whether planning to have a meal in a reflective environment or to enjoy a coffee on their sofas or while walking around checking out the art - this one place worth taking a peek at.

In the evening, after enjoying your seafood, there is a surprising number of nightlife options. For non-drinkers there are plenty of coffee and tea houses. Reputedly the best, and the certainly the oldest, is the Paris Cafe - founded in 1957. In those days, American servicemen used to drop by, but these days they are known for the quality of their coffee.
Penghu boasts one internet cybercafe, the Eastern Forest (ªF¤è´ËªL). They also feature a wide array of video games, so that should one be feeling withdrawal symptoms on can dash in for a quick fix.

For drinkers there are loads of options. Much to my surprise there were plenty of pubs (not being able to sing, KTVs and karaokes are no fun for me) - more than in cities much larger than Makung on Taiwan. All of them are small and personal, even the ones labeled 'disco' were not much bigger than a 7-11. Check the map for some of the options.

After a day or sightseeing, a big dinner of seafood and an evening of pub crawling - it's time to settle down for the evening at one of Makung's plentiful hotels. Mostly they range from around NT$600 on up, with good digs to be had for NT$800 to NT$1300. Check the map in the center section of this issue and the 'compass points' listings in the back of the magazine for details. Note that in most hotels there is no such thing as a 'single' - rooms with a large bed for one or two persons are charged the same rate. Many hotels discount heavily in the winter, and might consider discounting during the middle of the week.

As you can probably tell by now, I love Penghu. It strikes me as odd how many people in the Taichung area I meet who have never visited this amazing place. In some ways, this may be a good thing - as Penghu is not yet totally overwhelmed with touristy tackiness and outrageous prices. So, between you and me, Penghu is a great place to go. Just don't go telling everyone or it will be spoiled¡K

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