Cebu Daily News
Date: April 19th, 2016
By: Jude Bacalso
WE were driven around by a Watermelon.
At least the driver, in limited English (always prefixed with “I’m sorry my English
is so bad” in these parts) insists on being called that.
Whether it was an unfortunate translation or an actual nickname from a childhood among cantaloupes, Watermelon made the best transporter on this road trip that brought me and our merry bunch of 10 from the Northern tip of Taipei, southward through the Eastern coastal towns of Yilan and Hualien, down to Taitung on the Southestern side, and back up in a six-hour journey to Nantou (which, in fact, is only a 2 ½ hour journey from Taipei).
We had traveled the length of the country, and not once set foot on a mall or set sight on its famous attraction: the skyscraper called Taipei 101.
“We have 300 registered leisure farms in Taiwan,” says the bedimpled Calem Ngan, who works for the Taiwan Leisure Farm Association, and is our guide on this road trip.
To the uninitiated, a leisure farm is just as it sounds: Taiwan’s strong agricultural sector takes pride in the transformation of their existing farms into learning centers for various crops and produce, complete with their own accommodations that range from quaint bed and breakfast types to sprawling digs that feature an eight-story hotel with en suite onsen-style spas.
And as expected, the dining is organic and impossibly fresh, often plucked by you in their popular DIY activities (a prerequisite to be accredited as a Leisure Farm), and cooked by the owner’s daughter herself, as in the case of Fairy Story Organic Farm in Yulin, where Yi Hsuan takes me to their backyard to pick scallions, shows me how to chop it in a large table behind the main house, and roll dough to make the town’s famous Green Onion Pancakes, the main produce in the area. [FULL STORY]