Sun Link Sea is a relatively unknown tourist spot near the middle of the island of Taiwan. Yvonne and Larry (both previously featured in my Yilan vacation posts), Amy (my friend from my Easter post) and I drove to Sun Link Sea early Saturday morning, stopping briefly at a quaint elementary school in the mountains to see the sights and take pictures.

Once we arrived at SLS, we took a multi-hour sightseeing walk through a forest that runs along a shallow creek. At the end of the walk was a peony festival showcasing hundreds of potted and wild plants and flowers. After enjoying the festival and grabbing some lunch, we retreated to our hotel, where the four of us shared a large, incredibly comfortable room that had beautiful views and friendly birds. That night we went to the roof of the hotel and stargazed – away from the cities and pollution of Taiwan, and on a cloudless night, the stars were brilliant.

The next morning we wandered along a second trail. The day began bright and sunny, but by the end of our walk, the clouds were flowing into the valley – you can see the change in the “before/after” photos in the gallery.

We checked out and made our way down the mountain to Lugu, where we went antiques shopping with Yvonne’s parents. I found an English telephone booth, which excited me far more than anyone else. The antiques in Taiwan are quite different from those in the US. They tend to be incredibly ornate and intricate, like painted and heavily-carved chiffarobes and gazebos, and tall painted screens hundreds of years old. There were only a few items that looked like they could be from anywhere, but most were from China, Taiwan or Japan. Or England, coincidentally.

Before heading back to Hsinchu, we stopped at a tiny family restaurant where I was able to sample (and devour) a peppered pork/spring onion/garlic and vinegar dish that made my taste buds sing. Authentic Taiwan food is nothing like any other I’ve tried; when it’s prepared well, I can embarrass myself by the amount I eat. Amy and I fought over this pork dish, so much so that Yvonne, Larry, and Yvonne’s parents stopped eating it so we could share it… and Amy let me finish it. That’s true friendship.

All the pictures below are straight out of our cameras. Let’s be honest: I’m too lazy to edit mine. Yvonne shot with a Canon 7D (an 18-22 wide-angle and a 24-something lens), and I shot with a Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm kit lens. Amy’s pictures come from my camera.

(To view a slideshow, click on one of the pictures. If you’re receiving this post by email… I don’t know how the gallery will show up. You might have to go to my blog.)