Puli 埔里 is located at the geographical center of Taiwan. So you could say it is the “heart” of Taiwan. Which I guess would make it the heart of the “Heart of Asia” if the tourism slogan is to be believed.
Puli is easily and inexpensively reached by bus from Taichung. All the more quick since the completion of Highway 6. Which is more just a collection of bridges and tunnels, being entirely elevated and at times mind boggling high, it seems to only touch the ground when it goes through tunnels. The height of some of the spans makes me a tad nervous from the vantage point of a tall bus and that nagging thought in the back of my mind about the highway’s proximity of the epicenter of the 921 Earthquake. But I try to not think about that and just enjoy the scenery.
Puli really feels like “Taiwan” to me, if that makes any sense. It has a few things of note that one should see. Such as the amazing Chung Tai Chan Monastery. However this trip was less about seeing the sights and more about meeting up with old friends.
One of the back streets near the center of town is home to the Long Nan Lacquer Museum 龍南漆博物館 (Lóng nán qī bó wù guǎn). Which is run by some very dear friends. We never come to Taiwan without stopping by. Not just because of my love of lacquer ware, though it is a good place to buy some nice pieces.
Our friends are far too nice and they insisted that we take in a couple sights we had yet to see. So we went by the center of Taiwan, which was surrounded by busloads of Chinese tourists, on our way up the hill to where all paragliders play. A perch from which on clearer days gives an impressive view of the town and surrounding valley. After which we went around the other side of the hill and stopped by Carp lake (鯉魚潭 Lǐ yú tán) for a stroll.
Finally for something remotely food related. Puli is also home to a brewery that makes Shaoxing Rice Wine (紹興酒 shào xīng jiǔ). Which, with its strong aroma is immensely important in a lot of recipes. I just haven’t quite developed a taste for it on its own yet. However, there are a lot of snacks sold at the brewery that are made with the shaoxing wine to try. Oddly enough the popsicles are pretty good.
The brewery is the other place in Puli we always stop by. Just not usually for the wine. The brewery has a spot on the second floor where traditional ink artists work and sell both larger works and smaller more souvenir sized pieces. Usually on the handmade paper that Puli is also well known for. I’m a sucker for such things.
After far too short a day we had an hour long bus ride back to Taichung to reflect on the joy of seeing friends and the sadness of having to say good bye.
See you again Puli.