Central Taiwan enjoys an equitable climate yet heavy rain is possible between late May and early September. The region’s major population centre is Taichung, a municipality that now stretches from the coast to the high mountains. The city is growing faster than any other major settlement in Taiwan and has benefitted from some major infrastructure projects: National Taichung Theatre is a visually-striking performing arts centre and a metro line is under construction.
Residents and visitors alike adore Taichung’s diverse restaurant scene, and many tourists making a point of enjoying at least one meal at Chun Shui Tang, the chain that claims to have invented bubble milk tea. But of course there are only so many meals you can eat in one day – and if it’s raining walking off calories isn’t so easy. Luckily Taichung has museums that appeal to both the artistically- and scientifically-inclined.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is open every day of the week and admission is generally free; there’s sometimes a charge for special exhibitions. Before heading over, check the museum’s website to see if any special exhibitions which match your interests. And be sure to scrutinise the works displayed on the third floor, as everyone of them was executed in Taiwan or by a Taiwanese artist working overseas. The range of styles and materials is broad; amid the oil paintings, gouache, ink on paper and acrylic works are landscapes and abstract images. While you’re in this part of the city, consider crossing the road to Zhongxin Market, inhabited by an intriguing mix of bohemians who run coffeeshops and blue-collar families who sell fruits and vegetables early each morning.
Less than an hour’s drive from central Taichung, the town of Sanyi in Miaoli County is synonymous with woodcarving. The museum that celebrates this craft deserves a couple of hours of your time, and the town has more than a hundred galleries where you just might find the perfect objet d’art for your living room.
Like much of Miaoli, Sanyi’s population is majority Hakka, so if it’s still raining when you’ve finished with the museum and the galleries, the best thing to do is enjoy a meal featuring the culinary specialities of this ethnic minority. In the past, Hakka cuisine was thought to be oily and salty; in line with modern preferences for healthy fare, however, innovative chefs have updated several classic Hakka dishes, while retaining the characteristic pork and pickle flavours. Taiwanese food, thank goodness, is a weather-proof highlight
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