Sunday in Miaoli

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I was dragged to another outing with an aunt this past weekend. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise, however, unlike the last time I was dragged along for the return of Mazu. This time, we took a day trip to Miaoli to check out the tong hua (or tung hua) flowers and visit a cute place called "Flying Cow Ranch."

I can't find much information online, but tong hua flowers (actually kind of redundant, because the word "hua" or "花" means "flower") are a big deal here, just like cherry blossoms are a big deal. They're almost like "seasons" when people will flock to parks and mountainsides they've been to time and time again just to have a look at these flowers. The tong hua season is just about over here in Taipei, and my aunt had a spare ticket to a bus day-trip to view these flowers and invited me along.

So I piled onto a bus full of elderly (not quite as old as the last trip) Taiwanese men and women ... there was no karaoking this time (thank goodness) and not too many restroom stops. We arrived at a place, a center whose name I can't remember right now, but it was pretty much a center for Hakka Taiwanese culture, which was supposed to have been lined with tong hua trees. Alas, the only tong hua flowers I saw were dried dead ones, on the ground. Apparently it had rained really heavily just a couple days before, and all the remaining flowers had been swept off their trees.

So we got a tour of the center, and were shown some paper models of tong hua flowers and some Hakka poetry.

Beautiful Hakka fabrics

After lunch at one of those "rest stop restaurants," which is literally a fast food version of a Chinese restaurant -- think paper plates, plastic tablecloth and vats of rice and fish, veggies, soup made in bulk, we headed for a place called "Flying Cow Ranch."

I was pleasantly surprised by this place, It looks like and possibly operates as a cattle ranch of sorts, but it's open to the public for educational purposes and something I found a little odd: BBQing. Alongside the live cattle. Hmm.

United States of America, is that you?

My aunt was overly excited to see the cows ... she told me cows
are a more common sight in the U.S., but not so in Taiwan!

Petunias in the Butterfly Garden

So we asked, and the reason this ranch is called "Flying Cow Ranch" is not because their cows fly (I contemplated this for a second), but because they also "raise" butterflies. Among other creatures (sheep, horses, etc). 

Extremely difficult to spot, but at the very center of
this photo is a big black-and-white butterfly

Another massive one just above the center of the photograph (Magic Eye, anyone?)

Butterfly eggs

Butterfly cocoons ... the colors were unreal. Gold cocoons in nature?

This pony stood motionless, head down ... was it taking a nap or deep in thought?


More than excited to eat

Sweet, yellow watermelon to end our afternoon at Flying Cow Ranch

From what I could understand in Taiwanese (which is not much), Flying Cow Ranch is a fully organic farm/ranch. They produce milk and milk products, including ice cream, and it's open for families to stay over on vacation ... you can milk cows and probably tend to other animals. We only had time to see about 20% of the ranch. It was definitely much more fun than I thought it would be, and eye-opening, even for someone like me who thinks she's seen it all at the Bronx Zoo, ha. 

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