In the fertile waters off the southwestern coast of Taiwan is a small island chain known as Penghu. During the summer, the people of Taipei flock to the sandy beaches to ride banana boats and jet skis, and in the winter windsurfers descend upon the islands in chase of the next great gust
During the remainder of the year, there is nothing but fishing and relaxing. And us
Taking advantage of the low season and a break from school, we headed to the islands to eat fresh seafood, read some books, and explore the unique geography
It would be hard to find a more convenient place to escape to from Taipei. Flights to Penghu depart from the downtown Song Shan airport, a 5 minute taxi ride from our door. We arrived in Penghu less than an hour after leaving our apartment. We should have made it 1:05, and packed our wide angle lens
We were the only guests in our B&B, the two-legged and four-legged hosts both were warm and generous. They even upgraded us to a suite right on the water. Playing fetch with the resident dog was a daily adventure
Even the views from our bed were exceptional
To get about the islands, we rented a car (gasp!) Normally, we would have rented a small scooter or a couple bicycles to make our way about, but with Winnie’s condition we opted for four wheels and seat belts.
On our way to the rental place, everybody was either riding a scooter from the 1970’s or a car that had certainly seen better days. We were offered several colors of new model Toyota Yaris, but selected a classic 1980 Toyota Tercel with a transmission that didn’t like being cold. We fit right in.
The island chain is fairly long, and we drove over 300 km over the 3 days
The 3 dogs at the rental agency weren’t as nice as the one at the B&B. I was bitten on my hand. “Don’t worry, that dog has bitten over 30 people and nobody has died, so we know it is safe”, the owner assured me.
“Does the dog bite come with a discount?”, I asked
Everywhere on Penghu you will find traditional temples, many with an emphasis on gods of the sea and fishing. The detail in these temples is incredible
One temple even had a basement focused on the underworld, constructed entirely of coral and sea shells. It was a little creepy
The coast of Penghu was varied, rocky, and rough, but certainly beautiful
The seafood in Penghu is fresh and delicious. We found the prices to be about 25-40% cheaper than the equivalent in Taipei, and took advantage to dine on fresh sea urchin with egg, clams with basil, and several different methods of preparing fish and squid.
One restaurant we went to twice, partially because of this great home made contraption of plastic buckets and garden hose, used to ensure your seafood is alive minutes before it hits your plate
Ma Gong, the main town on the islands, also had a special charm, combining the modern with the old ways. Many buildings were made entirely of foraged coral.
The days flowed by, and were a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Taipei. We may have been the only tourists on the island, so we were able to explore at a slow pace, free of the typical hassles of tourist destinations
We were able to enjoy two different beaches like we owned them, with nobody else in sight. We roamed an old neighborhood and old military base cum architecture museum free from noise and crowds. And we sampled everything that could be harvested from the sea
The islands are beautiful, the people friendly, and the food delectable. We would definitely return
RT Flights from Taipei to Penghu (for 2): 7688 TWD ($254)
Hotel room with breakfast (1 night): 2600 TWD ($86/night)Classy rental car (1 day): 1300 TWD ($43/day)
Optional Scooter rental (in lieu of rental car): 300 TWD (~$10/day)
Gasoline: 29 TWD/liter (~$3.60/gallon)
Scrambled eggs with sea urchin: 180 TWD (~$6)
A feast of fresh fish, clams, squid, and pumpkin noodles for 2: 870 TWD ($29)
Total spending for 3 days: ~26,350 TWD (~$870)
A few final photos: