Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Leofoo Village Theme Park

Pic: The white tiger is sleeping

My brother in law, Bruce, brought us to play at Leofoo Village Theme Park that is located in Guansi, Hsin Chu County. Is about 1.5 hr driving distance from Taipei. Since this place is a little high up the mountain, the weather is quite nice and this place is surrounded with a lot of tea plantations and it is also near a big dam. Richard also said that this area is a good place to eat fresh water fish and he wish we can return to this area again to eat fresh fish.

While we were in the car, I asked Richard how many amusement/theme parks does Taiwan have because I saw several amusement parks advertisements on TV everyday. Richard doesn't know the exact number, he only said that the number should be between 5 to 10. At that time I thought that's a lot of number considering how tiny Taiwan is.

Like usual, before I wrote my blog I like to do a background research first to confirm any facts that I have before actually put it on writing. I was really surprise when I goggled "Taiwan theme parks" , I was directed to this website. On that website, I count there are not 5, or 10, or even 15, but there are 28 theme parks in Taiwan !!!

Then when I choose "Zoos/Botanical Gardens", Taiwan has 10 of them.

When I choose "aquariums", Taiwan has 7 !

Those are an amazing number! Especially considering that Taiwan is just a tiny island with only 36,000 square kilometers with many mountains and hills and it only has 23 millions people live there. With the government has established 6 national parks and 13 national scenic areas to preserve Taiwan's best natural ecological environment and cultural sites. There are really a lot of places to explore while we are in Taiwan. Luckily I think we will have a lot of chances to come to Taiwan in the future to be able to explore those places. I am definitely looking forward to do that ...

So today I am going to take you to LeoFoo Village Theme Park.

By the way, if you have HSBC credit card the entrance fee is free ... if not, you will have to pay and I think it's not cheap to get in there. I don't know the exact amount since my Wayne paid for us.

There are several areas. First we went to the "animal/zoo" area. There we saw white tiger and the normal tiger. Kai Kai can ride camel but he doesn't want to. He chose to ride a pony instead. Then we buy carrots to feed the goat that ran freely. There is one guy whose job is just to clean up the animal droppings...poor guy!

Then we ride this "car" that has pedals to make it move. From it, you can see all the different monkeys under you. I did not see them though because when I saw how far I was from the ground. I just close my eyes tightly!! Yes... I am scared silly of height!!! So when I need to take a picture of Kai Kai and Wayne who ride behind me and Richard, I just blindly face my camera behind me and take their pictures. So I ended up with a lot of useless photos, but at least I manage to shot some that I can show you here.

Then we see birds in a big cage, but we also saw that this place has problem with rats coming into the cage which means, not only those rats are going to eat all of the birds food, they can also eat the birds. I had the same problem before with my birds at my parents' home. We used to have 4 giant cages where you can walk inside to play with the birds well...until those rats eat them all no matter what we did to safe their life from the rats! At one time we had 52 birds. Now...none... and my father finally fed up with feeding the rats with those singing birds, he tore down the cages completely.

So from watching the monkey, we ride the train to see the herbivore animals. Then we continue to take a bus to see the carnivorous animals. It used to that people can drive in their own cars to see the animals up close but I guess there are a lot of stupid people who just can't obey the rules of not going out of their car and they got attack by the animals. So now, if you want to see the animals up close, you have to ride in their bus. Well...at least it has AC on it so it's comfortable enough.

From the bus we move to a different area. Ali Baba area. We ride 2 rides. One is the safest one where we sit on a car then the car will took us to a "trip" indoor with all the sound effects and the robots. Then Richard and Kai Kai ride the Ring of Fire, a giant wheel where you will be spin 360 degrees again and again. Kai Kai was not scared at all.

Then we move to the land of the dinosaurs. But first I bought a cold fresh coconut to drink. Yum! Then Kai Kai wants to ride the catamaran, a very safe and quiet ride, just sit on the catamaran ( like a boat ) and let it bring you around the water on its own.

Pic: Kai Kai sat on the catamaran

Pic: Bruce took our picture sitting on the catamaran

Then from that quiet ride...we move to the fast ride where you ride a boat and then you will be dropped from a high place at the end of the ride and get splashed all over with water. I asked Bruce how many times am I going to be dropped down, he said just once. But when I rode it, I got dropped 2 times! Bruce said that he rode it a long time ago, maybe because at that time this place was just open so they only do it once because too many people waited to ride it. But now, they do it twice. As I said previously that I am scared of height, so when I knew I am going to be dropped, I just close my eyes and start screaming at the top of my lung until Richard laughed at me all the way down! I wish I can show you my face on the photo that the theme park's camera took. Quite ugly like hell... I couldn't believe that Kai Kai wanted to ride it again after that.

Pic: The fast ride that Kai Kai and Richard rode twice

Pic: Kai Kai wanted to ride this fast ride for the second time with Richard.

Then after we are pretty soaking wet from that fast ride, Richard and Kai Kai rode this ride where they are being turn around and upside down too. Kai Kai think this ride is boring....

We ate lunch too in the Dinosaurs area but since the food is really boring, I did not even bother to take their pictures.

Then we move to different area again. This time is the Wild Wild West area. They copy everything from the States down to the churros that they sold in Disney! Exactly the same! They also copied the playground area like the one that I just saw in Universal studio at Nickelodeon Splash Place. They even have the wild wild west show with real Americans performers, including with the can can dancers too.

Pic: At the playground area.

Kai Kai and Richard rode a train ride in Wild Wild West area. Then we stop to eat ice cream first. Just to let you know that there are other scarier rides in LeoFoo Village Theme Parks but since Kai Kai is too short to ride them so he has to wait until the next time he can ride it.

At last we rode the last ride, I don't know the name of the ride, but I love this ride the most. It safe and fun. You sit in a giant tire sometime together with other people. The first time we rode it, we have to sit with other family but the second time, we rode alone. More fun that way. We knew before we ride it that we are going to get splashed but we never thought that we are going to be completely soaked! What weird is, Kai Kai is the driest one while Richard and me were totally soaked to the bone from head to toe! In a hot weather like Taiwan summer time, it feels so good to be soaking wet and it was funny that we walked back to the car dripping wet. Since I wore white shirt, it's like walking around the park in a bikini top. While Bruce since he wore a very light and thin short pants, he is like walking around advertising his underwear but we just laugh it off, what is important today is we all had fun today!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Visiting Richard's Grandparents

Today La La is going to meet her great grandparents for the first time. For Kai Kai this is his second time to be there and for me, I think it's my third or my fourth time to be there. I couldn't forget the first time I went to see them. They live at the center of Taiwan, the biggest rice producer area.

It takes more than 3 hours to drive there in a good traffic. I wrote before in here about my last trip to go there on Chinese New Year, it took us a good 7 hours to go there and another 7 hours or more to came back to Taipei.

One of thing that I like about driving long distance in Taiwan's highway is the rest areas. Taiwan's rest areas are fun, they are huge, almost like a small mall size. It has many different food in their food court. It usually has a grocery store that sells snacks and other things that you usually want to eat while traveling, so no raw meats for sure. I can't even say it's a convenient store since usually they are a lot bigger than the normal convenient store like seven-eleven store.

Then they will have so many toilets. Between 20 - 40 toilet stalls in Woman toilet only. Then there will be many sinks outside to wash your hands. A long time ago when I went to Richard's grandparents' home in 1996, going to use the rest area' toilet means you have to bring your own tissue but now that's not a problem anymore. They even install emergency/call button on every toilet stall. There is a big sign also outside that all of the restroom area are installed with something that can detect spy camera where people can install a tiny camera to video tape you when you use the restroom!

The rest area also has great baby changing room now. It has everything. From the bed to change the diaper all padded up so we don't have to worry about the baby's head might bump on the side. It has hot and cold water dispenser for free so we can mix the formula. Then they equip the sink with a shower head with a hose attach to it in case you need to give your baby a quick wash. It also said that in case you need diaper, formula, or baby food, you can contact them too. How great is that? Even in the States or Canada we don't get this kind of service.

I have live in 2 very advance countries. US and Canada for the past 12 years of my life, but here I kept getting a nice surprise when I go to their restroom. Last time when I wrote a story about going to Elite Bookstore in Taipei, I forgot to write about their restroom's toilet bowl! When I entered the toilet stall, the toilet lid slowly lifted up by itself! I found out that it has a motion detector built in on it! I also found out that there is a control panel install on the wall too. It has option on how much water you need to flush, a little or a lot, then if you want the toilet seat up or down, lid up or down. Jeez.... I felt like a country bumpkin that just arrive in town!

Then when I went to different restroom in another mall, I found out that even the trash can in the toilet room is automatic. The trash can has a lid on it and usually with this type of trash can they usually has something that need to be stepped on with your foot to lift up the lid right? Well there is none on this trash can but then I saw there is a big bilingual sign on it that says that this trash can is automatic trash can. When I wave my trash on top of the trash can it doesn't do anything but when I put my hand below the lid then it opened up on it's own.

The hand dryer machine is also pretty cool. It is big, and it has a water drainage on it so it can catch any water that may drip from your hands and it will leave the floor dry from any drips.

Since my father in law was the one who drove us, we made many stops at several different rest area, so we had several chances to eat and explore that places. Here are some pictures that I took from those places :

Pic: Coffee shop that using local grown coffee

Pic: Many different soap sold in a block that you can cut yourself. They also sell a lot of essential oil and other things related for bathing

Pic: Different flavour of Mochi

Pic: Bakwan, a mixture of meat, bamboo shoot and seasoning with thick skin made from glutinous rice flour with sauce.

Pic: I love the croissants the most, they are so light and the crust is brush with something sweet make it so easy to eat it even without butter.

Back to my story about going to Richard's grandparents' home. So 3 hours later we finally arrived in their home. We did not stayed there long enough in my opinion, since La La needed her nap or at least her rest, so I stayed with her in the guest room while everybody else talked. Soon enough it's time for us to leave, but before we leave, I took some picture of La La with her great grandparents.

The trip back to Taipei is also smooth. The reason why we need to rush back to Taipei is because we need to send Richard youngest brother and his family to the airport. They are leaving to Thailand for a vacation.