Monday, November 16, 2015

Thrice Taiwan: Toucheng Leisure Farm

We wanted to try another farmstay during our trip to Taiwan. However, we weren't too impressed with the very popular Flying Cow Ranch (you can read our post on that here), so we thought we'd try visiting Toucheng Leisure Farm instead. It turned out to be such a great visit, we'd probably be coming back again next time!

Toucheng is located at the north-east coast of Taiwan, and it takes slightly over an hour to get there by car from Taipei city. The farm provides the option of transport to and from the farm, which makes getting there really convenient. However, if you do book transport, please double and triple-check your booking with the farm, since they got confused and sent only one seven seater for the nine of us!

As we were travelling with another family and had five kids with us, we thought the easiest was to go with the 3D2N non-deluxe package, since that covered all six meals at the farm, accommodation, as well as some activities too. The room given to us was neat and clean, though I must say that the facilities are minimal, compared to the ones in Flying Cow Ranch. However, it provided everything we wanted, and the beds were comfortable. The only drawback was that the building didn't have lifts (they were in the process of installing lifts when we were there, so those should be ready if you visit soon), so we got plenty of exercise, since we were given rooms on the 4th floor.

The food was served buffet-style in the large dining hall for most meals, save for one dinner where they served us a sumptuous eight course meal with the yummiest food (unfortunately, I didn't have my camera so there were no pictures of that!). Most meals feature veggies harvested fresh from the farm grounds, and we are told that they are organic (our friends were shown all the caterpillars crawling around on the carrot leaves in the garden, to prove they don't use pesticides). A fair bit of seafood is served too (think fish and prawns), and everything is really fresh, since Toucheng is located just next to the sea. The meals were just delicious, and was a far cry from what was available at the Flying Cow Ranch (which featured a fair bit of western food like fries, nuggets and sausages). If you are taking a package, do note the timings for meals, as they clear the food pretty quickly and food can move fast if there is a crowd.

Each meal provided a wide selection of dishes, and going by our taste-buds, minimal MSG is used (our family is very sensitive to MSG). There's usually some food stands set up outside the dining hall, which serve up noodles and the best fishballs I've ever tasted (those hearty ones with lots of fish, and little flour. So good!), and sometimes desserts such as soya beancurd. The farm also provided a BBQ dinner one night, where we could barbecue a whole selection of meats (the chicken was super yummy!). The only thing that didn't vary was the types of fruit that was served during meals. When we were there, only oranges and passionfruit were available, with watermelon only served during the 8-course dinner. (If your kids are fussy about fruit, buy some before the trip and bring them along.)

Breakfast featured traditional Taiwanese fare: porridge, rice and various dishes, along with soya bean milk. We loved the porridge! (Do note you can buy jars of ikan bilis from the gift shop, those are pretty good.) 

The kids were not used to the food served at breakfast, since they are used to having cereal and yoghurt in the mornings. The farm does serve white bread and various spreads (butter, peanut butter and chocolate spread), so they ate that instead, along with steamed white buns. They didn't want to drink the soya bean milk, so we ended up buying fresh milk from the gift shop, which was a tad costly, but was rich and creamy. (I guess this is one area which Flying Cow Ranch does much better than Toucheng: they provide vouchers for you to collect bottles of milk fresh from their farm.)

The farm grounds were picturesque, and you would see art dotted everywhere you turned: from mosaic decorating the sinks to paintings on the buildings. 

The kids loved feeding all the living things they encountered, from fishes (you can buy fish food from the vending machine next to the pond, or bigger bottles at the gift shop):

To goats and buffalo (the feed is provided in crates just next to the enclosures, so you can feed them anytime you want):

There were also ducks, geese, and pigs to talk to! ;)

One thing the kids enjoyed especially, was exploring the farm grounds. We woke up late one morning, and missed the farm tour, but the kids had a great time walking around. There are playground structures scattered around, from swings to climbing structures, and there are certain parts where the kids got to wade in the icy cold water of the streams. Wading was one of the highlights for them, so do bring crocs/suitable sandals along for your visit, as well as a towel from your room! Most footpaths are gravelled, so wear comfortable footwear, and leave those heels and pretty shoes at home.

I think they would have been happy just running around the grounds, but all the playgrounds and pumps to work made it even better. It was really hot when we were there, so sunscreen, mosquito repellant and hats are a must.

While on your walks, look out for fauna on the farm! Since the place practices organic farming, the place is full of butterflies galore. We spotted many golden orb web spiders too. These rather large arachnid beauties seem to like to build their webs amidst the bushes at the side of the pathways.

Exploring aside, we were kept pretty busy since the farm programme is pretty packed! The farm allows visitors to plant/harvest rice, vegetables and fruit, but we did not get the opportunity to when we visited. It's best to check about the events when booking your stay, since these are seasonal. We did manage to take part in other activities though, such as painting and letting go a sky lantern at night...

... to pizza-making, where our pizzas were fired in mud ovens. We learnt that adding mayonnaise really added a certain ommph to our pizzas!

The kids also learnt how to peel and pickle limes...

... and also got to do leaf-printing on totes and t-shirts. I liked how the activities were meaningful, not too complicated, and produced useful souvenirs! You can read more about the farm activities here.

One final thing we loved about the farm, was how they had thoughtfully placed a bookshelf inside the dining hall (this is located just outside the gift shop), which had various reading material in Chinese and English. There are travel guides, magazines and a fair bit of children's books available, and we found English books suitable for all ages, from board books for Baby J, to more lengthy picture books and chapter books for Junior J. Those were really helpful to keep the kids occupied after meals ,when the adults wanted to eat some more (I did say the food was good, right?). 

All in all, I'd highly recommend this farm-stay, unless you're looking for posher accommodation. We'd definitely be back!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. Our entire Taiwan trip was self-funded, and we're sharing the highlights in the hopes that it would help those planning their visit. To read our trip itinerary, go here. You can read about our first and second trips to Taiwan here, and here

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a really lovely farmstay! Will definitely consider it when we plan our next trip to Taiwan, since we had such a great time at our minsu the last time. Love that there are so many different activities available on the farm itself. Oh and is J4's name going to be Jean? ;)



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