August 31, 2013 by Nicola Fletcher
Penghu, I miss you!
Penghu is Taiwan’s tropical paradise, just like the Philippines but fewer islands. To imagine it you must first think of Taiwan’s beautiful Kenting, throw in a few more beaches, longer coastline, mix in the whitest of sands and then multiply that by 50 and you’ve just about got Penghu.
You’ll find Penghu (the name given to the collection of islands) in the Taiwan Strait, between China and Taiwan. Penghu is a large archipelago incorporating the Penghu, Paisha and Hsi Islands. There are 64 small islands in the entire archipelago and the coastline stretches for more than 300 kilometers (yes, I have just Googled that).
I visited Penghu on a random weekend away with friends. I was crossing off as many must-see Taiwanese spots as I could before I left for South America; Penghu was at the top of my list.
We flew in to the main island of Makong 馬公市 from Kaoshuing City Airport (30 minutes), on quite a tiny plane; it had propellers which is never a good sign. We were all very excited at the prospect of sun, sea and sand… a common feature of most weekends in Taiwan but we knew that Penghu was going to take it to the next level.
Scooters, the national mode of transport, were hired in Makong and we set off to explore, taking in a variety of temples and long, sunny coast line while munching on wasabi peas and slurping lemon tea.
Our first beach experience was Shilli Beach, a huge sandy beach practically empty (as most beaches are in Taiwan). We soaked in the sun, played ball and messed about in the waves.
In Makong we didn’t have the best of luck finding food after 8pm at night. We ended up in a small dingy bar in the middle of town (Freuds) with 3 plates of fried beef, although the cold beer and an ice-cream wander afterwards went down a treat!
The adventure continued the next day as we took a boat to Ji-Bei, if we thought the beach yesterday was nice it was NOTHING in comparison to what our eyes were about to stumble upon…
The ultimate sand tail, not only was the sea crystal clear but we got to enjoy it all by ourselves because as usual there was not a Taiwanese sunbather in sight! If this was Europe you’d have to fight your way in!
After a day on the sand tail we were all very sun kissed to say the least! Ice-shavings and mango juice went down a treat after that.
Our last evening was spent racing against time to make our way to the lighthouse in Makong to watch the sun go down. Taiwan produces the sunsets people go to Thailand for, really beautiful.
The sun shone the whole trip, not too much of a surprise in Taiwan, cloudy days are a rarity (unless it’s typhoon season, then you’re in for A LOT of cloud & rain).
We all flew back to Kaoshuing looking like lobsters! I remember piling on the aloe vera desperately trying to reduce the redness in time for school on Monday. A teacher did stop to ask what had happened to my face….when will I ever learn?!
If you still think Taiwan is all factories and pollution, get yourself to Penghu and your opinion will change forever.