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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Where The Fairies Gather & Play: Xian Hu Leisure Farm, Taiwan 仙湖休闲农场

仙湖休闲农场, literally translated, means Fairy Lake Leisure Farm.
Walk down the garden path, dance with the fairies~
From the name alone, you'd maybe picture a beautiful lake in the middle of a valley, surrounded by lush green hills and homey cabins.
Not the best panorama shot, but this is the valley of Xian Hu.
That's all true, except that the lake is the valley, and rather than water, it's usually filled to the brim with fluffy white clouds and mist - a lake which only fairies and other celestial beings could frolic in.
The quaint little cabins of Xian Hu
Staying true to the promise of nature, we had to climb a short but steep slope before reaching our cabins. A row of little wooden houses was waiting for us, with soft, comfy beds and the smell of the trees outside.
Clockwise: Our guide, Xiao Ping explaining the map of Xian Hu; Observation Tower;
Some of the plants Xian Hu grows; Outdoor pool with a view of the valley.
After a little background info from our guide, we got to meet the resident pets - some pigs and the superstar dog, Porsche!
Porsche joining our group shot; Fluffy rabbits; One of resident pigs basking while he gets a tummy rub!
I love dogs - I have 5 of them at home - but piglets are the cutest things! Unfortunately, there were only bigger pigs this time around, who were cute in their own right! They love being petted and just lay on the grass, basking in the attention. Not as enjoyable to stroke as a fluffy dog though, seeing as pigs' hair is quite coarse. Imagine stroking a cat's tongue, if you will!
The longans are roasted in a pit of charcoal. Dried longans can be eaten as a snack, or put into soups or desserts for flavouring.
Seeing as we just missed longan season, we may not have gotten to pick ripe longans straight off the tree, but we did get to see where they dry them to sell as preserved fruit! Xian Hu is well-known for their dried longans, and I'd say the smoky, sweet taste of the blacked fruit is a hit-or-miss kinda thing: Either you love it or hate it.

Tainan, as we've realised by now, is a region full of picturesque landscapes, and Xian Hu was no exception. On a viewing platform facing the opposite mountains and the town of Tainan, we were served delicious lime juice while we chatted about our adventures so far. Dinner was to be served after sundown, so we relaxed and waited for this beautiful sight:

The view of the sunset against the mountains, though a bit misty that day, was as soothing as it was awe-inducing. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for sunsets. Being a regular at watching the sun lower itself into the sea back home in Kota Kinabalu, watching it fall behind the mountains was a very different experience.
The Outdoor Bar - Day & Night
Nature has a way of making you hungry, so we all trooped into the restaurant area as soon as it got dark, our stomachs ready for what we knew was going to be fresh and tasty.
The middle basket is placed into a boiling pot of clear soup like steamboat.
After dinner, DIY activities were prepared for whoever wanted to take part. We learnt how to make Ang Ku Kueh, which is glutinous rice kneaded into a red sticky dough, filled with grounded peanuts and sugar, pressed into a tortoise-shaped mold, then steamed on a banana leaf. This happens to be my favourite Chinese kuih (茶果), so I was super stoked to get to make my own!
Not a being regular in the kitchen, it was a little tricky to get everything to stay intact and look delicious at the same time, but I somehow did it!
The ang ku kueh was ready by the time our 2nd DIY project was over: Coffee brewing. Since I dont drink coffee, I gave this one a miss and just watched from the sidelines. This was also when my camera's memory card decided to go MIA - wasnt too worried at the time, but little did I know it had died a sudden death.
The finished product! The pigs thought they smelt good! =)
The coffee beans were harvested on Xian Hu's own farm, so freshness was guaranteed, and you can't miss the aroma of rich coffee as soon as the first beans were being grounded. We were given manual grinders, so after working those wrists for a few minutes, beans became fine powder, and the filtering process began: Just add hot water!
Ground, ground, ground those beans...
Ana and I decided to stay at the restaurant for a while to get our wifi fix - internet withdrawal symptoms were starting to show! We didnt get as much sleep as we should've, and regret started to creep in as we climbed under the comfy sheets......

Before we knew it, it was morning and breakfast was served! Not in bed, unfortunately hahaha. The fluffy homemade mantou definitely filled the gap, and we were ready to be on our way again...

Xian Hu Leisure Farm

Tel: +886 6 686 3635
Web: www.senwho.com.tw
Address: No.62, Helaoliao, Dongshan District, Tainan City, Taiwan

Til next time, 
Calista xx

*Once again, many thanks to Air AsiaTaiwan Leisure Farms Development Association for sponsoring this trip.
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