Dell hosts a summer outing for their employees in Taiwan, as I remember Dell also did for their US employees in Austin. When Jeff worked for Dell in Austin, the summer outing was hosted in one of the large parks there, with food and activities provided for everyone. In Taiwan, instead of just one large gathering of all employees, there were three different outings offered every Friday for four weeks. Employees just signed up for the outing that they wanted to attend, and then they got that Friday off from work to go have fun with the other employees and their families who were going on that outing.
Jeff signed us up for a trip to Yilan to have lunch at a well known restaurant there called The Glass House on Friday, June 20. When we arrived at the building where he works, there were already buses parked and waiting to take employees and their families on the outing. (Notice the Ubikes parked in their kiosks on the sidewalk next to the buses!)
It takes about an hour to drive on a bus from Taipei to Yilan, a city on the east coast of Taiwan. It used to take much longer, as you had to circle around the mountains, but now there is a tunnel through the mountains. This makes it a lot faster and easier to go from Taipei to Yilan. Our first stop in Yilan was at a shoe factory.
With changing times and industries, many local factories in Taiwan have, with assistance from the government, transformed into protected manufacturing businesses and converted their facilities into “tourism factories.” The place that we visited in Yilan was one of these “tourism factories”.
Each tourism factory has a unique theme or product, and has facilities and buildings that have been upgraded, improved, and landscaped. The factories offer tours introducing their production processes, with exhibitions of their products and history, and DIY (do it yourself) facilities. This way, tourism factories preserve a wealth of industrial knowledge and culture, while creating new tourist destinations for both learning and recreation.
In this Yilan tourism factory, they made wooden shoes, or clogs. These used to be worn by many people in Taiwan. We got to watch men in the factory demonstrating how they make the shoes, with carved wooden bottoms and leather straps nailed across the top of the shoes.
There were many different styles of wooden shoes on display.
They also had pairs that we could try on. They were not very comfortable, in my opinion!
And there were lots of shoes for sale, some of them very elaborate and beautiful!
They had some benches inside the factory building that were shaped like the wooden bottoms of very large shoes!
I was utterly confused by these wooden clogs that were on display, and for sale, at the factory. Then Jeff explained that they were supposed to be worn by couples during their wedding. Then the double-sided clogs made some sense.
After we had toured the factory, we went into the building next door to DIY, and make a small wooden keychain shoe. Actually, the small wooden bottom was already made, we were just punching and dyeing the small leather strap that would be nailed on top of our wooden shoe bottom. This was very frustrating for me, as the woman who was in charge of assisting us spoke no English, so she just ended up doing most of mine for me.
We got back on the bus and drove from the shoe factory to the Glass House Restaurant for lunch. This restaurant is famous for having no menu; the chef just decides what to cook according to what is in season at the time.
The Glass House restaurant was indeed made mostly from glass, and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The food that we were served for lunch was delicious, and had a very artistic presentation.
There was also way too much of it! There were many (at least 10) different course served to us during a lunch that lasted for about two hours. Many people at our table stopped eating before the lunch was over, and wandered off to walk around the gardens
Jeff and I managed to stay and continue eating until the fish course at the very end of the lunch. This is easier for me to do, as there are always dishes served with shellfish that I cannot eat. So I don’t get as full as everyone else.
After eating such a big meal, we needed to go and hike some of it off! Our next stop on this day trip to Yilan turned out to be a hike to the waterfalls on the Linmei Shih Ren trail in Yilan. Jeff and I had actually hiked on this trail during a trip to Yilan four years ago. But we never made it far enough along the trail to see the waterfalls, as it was getting dark so we had to turn back.
We figured this out as we were walking along the trail, and it seemed very familiar. One clue that we had hiked on it before was the netting over the beginning of the trail. The trail runs next to a well known and popular golf course in Yilan, so there is netting over the trail to prevent hikers from getting hit by stray golf balls. I did not see any golf balls in the netting above the trail this time, but I do remember seeing a few the last time we walked up this section of the trail. Maybe the golfers are improving?
It was raining during the first part of our hike. This is very common in Yilan, as it is well known for getting more rain than any other place in Taiwan. This is because it is on the eastern side of the island, and there is a large mountain range to the west of it. So when storms blow in from the Pacific ocean, the clouds have to drop some of their moisture on Yilan so they can blow over the mountains to the west side of the island.
It stopped raining before we got to the waterfalls, making it easier to take photos!
Lumbering used to be done in this area of Taiwan. This log display alongside of the trail demonstrates how they used to tie the logs to a wooden sled, and then drag them out on wooden rails. They are no longer logging here.
Linmei Shih Ren is a loop trail, and the waterfalls are located at about the furthest point of the loop from the beginning. So it took us about an hour of walking to get to the waterfalls.
There were many waterfalls, as this river travels down through a gorge. They were all very pretty.
Our group was the only group of people hiking along the trail this Friday afternoon, so it felt very uncrowded. Everyone was hiking at their own pace, and so we were spread out by the time people started to arrive at the waterfalls. So there were never any crowds on the observation platforms near the waterfalls.
I have my umbrella up in the photo below because all of the tree branches were dripping water on me. It was still very wet, even if it had stopped raining.
The mountains surrounding this trail were very green and beautiful.
It was a wonderful outing!