Family travel is about navigating choices. We always try to anticipate Juniper's needs before heading out the door. Preparation is everything, but remaining flexible is also important. We created checklists, packed our bags, and were ready to go a whole week before our flight. All set. However, the night before we left for Taiwan, we had decided to make a super important last-minute decision. Juni has been obsessed with her perpetually smiling, red, Elmo doll, ever since we succumbed to Sesame Street on YouTube to help us through a cranky night. Two days prior to leaving, Juni developed a passionate interest in dancing and the Angelina Ballerina children's book series. She would insist on wearing her tutu over whatever she was wearing, including her puff coat. The morning of our trip, we made a gut decision, replacing the Elmo doll with Angelina.
We got lucky with that choice. Juni couldn't wait to pull out “Nini” at each hotel we arrived at. No tears were shed for Elmo. Whew!
When planning this trip to Taiwan, we wanted it to be fun for Juniper. If she had a good time, so would we. Place her in a box of sand, and she's happy. We decided to head to the beach after Sun Moon Lake.
We worried that we made a poor planning choice, spending an entire day taking various modes of transportation: a bus to the train station in Taichung, then catching the high speed rail to the end of the line, where we got on a bus for a two hour ride to Kenting, and finally waiting for our hotel to pick us up in the howling wind, a welcome reprieve from the heat. We were fueled by steam buns, fish balls, fruit, and milk from the ever-present 7-Eleven convenience stores along the way. What made this choice pay-off was that we could spend 4 days relaxing in a beautiful seaside setting, without an agenda, getting accustomed to the 16 hour time difference.
Sam's parents honeymooned in Kenting decades ago, and it remains a tropical beach bum paradise. The little town around the beach and national park is pretty touristy (and there are only 7-Elevens and other convenience stores – no grocery store). We opted to stay about 10 minutes outside of the town and found it perfectly peaceful and quiet.
The South Border Design Hotel invited us to stay and we weren't sure if we were still in Taiwan or had landed in a remote Greek Island! We were so happy to relax there for a few days. The architecture is creative and modern and we just loved our room, especially the super deep tub that was perfect for baby-and-me bath time. Getting breakfast served in our room was also a luxury that we appreciated as parents, who occasionally have a hard time getting out of the door with a squirmy kiddo.
On our second day in Kenting, the wind was relentless! Not quite the right weather for a beach outing, but perfect for a beautiful hike in Kenting National Park. The park is perfect for little kids, with easy to walk, paved trails, and caves formed from ancient coral reefs (Juni LOVES caves). Best of all, there were wild macaque monkeys, that made a racket in the canopy above us before we spotted them. Also, heed the signs warning of poisonous snakes. We admired a big, sinuous sun-bather, stretched out on a tree beside the trail, and were happy that we had been carrying Juni in the carrier at that point.
Fun Space Inn invited us to stay with them for the second part of our visit in Kenting. Fun Space has a great French bistro vibe, with a chill lobby, filled with things to read and coffee to sip. The rooms have stunning views of the ocean, which is right across the street. We loved staying here and would highly recommend it! Do keep in mind that the sandy beach across the street is protected for ecological research, so no kid-friendly swimming here. There's a section of rocky beach that is beautiful, and snorkelers access the ocean from there, but it's tricky to walk over with a baby. Luckily, it's an easy 10 minute bus ride (and the buses run perfectly on time!) up the coast to plenty of sandy beaches.
After a swimming breakthrough with Juniper, learning to kick and float in bath-temperature waters, we packed our bags and headed up the east coast of the island via train, toward the province of Hualien, Sam's mom's birthplace.
More photos and travel stories coming next week.
A big thanks to our great Taiwan fashion partners included in this blog post!
Headbands: Ms. How Fan
Sandals: Aika Handmade Shoes
Cloth Baby Shoes: Polovio
Men's Shoes: Dogyball
Baby shoes + matching bags: Boingboing
Baby necklace: Ciaowo
Organic Baby Clothes: Gujui
Choker necklace: W&Y Atelier