Kending Family-Friendly Home Stay: LOHAS Cabin

LOHAS CABIN is run by a friend of my husband's, and it is has been a popular destination with many expat families I know in Taiwan since the homestay started promoting their English-language information site and service.  The owners have young children and like to give them a chance to interact with other children in English, so if you are open to meeting a Taiwanese family and staying on their property (in your own cabin), you might enjoy a stay at this place very much. 

I think it's important to know the rules before you go any further:

LOHAS accommodation rules:
  • We are 100% children-friendly B&B, please read the following rules before booking. If you don't agree any of them, please do not book, thank you.
  • No pets.
  • No visitors.
  • No firework.
  • Cabins area is NON-SMOKING. Smoking is fine in parking and BBQ area.
  • This is not a hotel, it is also the owner's home, so you will see them and mix with them.
  • The owners rest after 8pm, so after this time, there is no service.
And I also think every mother should know about this:
We now offer great and relaxing massage for female guests(moms will love this!), 1 hr back massage just NT$ 600. 1.5 hr facial spa NT$ 800. Advanced reservation is required.

"LOHAS CABIN is a Canadian style cabin. If you are looking for a happy, healthy and easy way to travel. A generous welcome to all our guests. We provide a children-friendly environment.

LOHAS CABIN is located in the Longluantan area. We are very close to most of the scenic spots on the west coast of Keng Ting National Park. It only takes you 5 to 15 minutes driving from our cabin to Guanshan(the perfect spot to watch sunset), Baisha(the pretty and quiet white sand beach), Nanwan(a clean and soft beach with all kinds of beach activities), Houbihu(the largest fishing port in Hengchun), Maobitou(the southernmost tip of the southwest cape), KengTing Main Street,National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium, etc."

The family is quite environmentally-conscious, so there is a discount if you don't need daily cleaning of your room.  Please bring your own toothbrush.
Address: 地址:946屏東縣恒春鎮西潭路76巷100號之1

100-1, Lane 76, Sitan Rd., Hengchun Township,Pingtung County 946, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Booking phone no.: 08-8867856/0922-778048 Daily 9am-8pm

There is even a special instruction page for foreigners, with details of how to get there, the best time to go, and some great pictures of families having fun in Kenting.

(Please let Jennifer know you heard about them at this Kidzone-tw blog.)


Our Visit to Taishan, the Barbie Museum, and Mei Ning Barbie Workshop

Chinese New Year is almost here, so I thought I would treat you to a story.  Here is my facebook status, posted after our big day out:

"Now showing: Katrina and her Nissan's Excellent Adventure. Today's episode includes driving into and along the scooter lane trying to get up onto highway 1, meeting a truck head-on on a one-way dirt road, being refused entry to a school carpark, and finding not one but two Barbie museums ... I was leaning out the window yelling, "save me!" in Chinese. Finally a factory worker came over and directed me, which resulted in us driving into a factory yard full of dogs, and me repeating the mantra, "We will get home alive." That was all AFTER the 200 meter quick-reverse as a long-haul truck came racing toward us. My son did tell me it was his best day out EVER..."

This blog sure don't come easy.

Was it worth it?  Every minute that was taken off my life, as a result of my writing down the wrong character for the street address and not paying attention to the "機車" that was most likely fading on the road at the entrance of the motorcycle lane.

Why was it worth it?  Because, I learned a great deal about the history of Mattel and toymaking in Taiwan, saw some amazing works of design made by seamstresses in the area, and got to meet the wonderfully spirited staff of the Mei Ning Workshop.

The Day Out Starts Here:
Take Highway 1 south from Taipei city, getting off at the Wugu exit.  Follow the signs to Taishan.  Your first stop should be the Taishan Cultural Center.  I didn't actually know about this place, and only found it because I had the wrong address to the Mei Ning Workshop, and because all the Barbie Museum signs lead to the Center.  Park in the underground carpark and walk out to the rather run-down building at the edge of the spacious park.  The Barbie Museum is on the fourth floor of the building.  You need to put on slippers.  Take one of the pink photocopied handouts, as it has English on one side.  If you speak Chinese, you are in luck, as you can enjoy a detailed guided tour through the museum.  It looks very small from the entrance, but is a little maze, with a large central room at the back where you can be amazed by beautiful clothes, including some made from recycled materials, some made by Taiwan's top designers, and some made by local high school students.  There are photos of the sports and cultural teams that were part of Mattel's personnel support, and a scale model of the factory that once produced all the Barbies for the world market.  I even saw the very Crystal Barbie I got for Christmas when I was a child.

Taishan Cultural Center

Park in front of the center, from the carpark entrance

The park outside the Cultural Center is a very nice place for children to run around.  You can collect leaves to take home for artwork later on, or just let the kids run out some steam.

Due to politics, there are currently no signs showing you directions to Mei Ning workshop, and there are no signs on the road, either.  It is off the road in a community, across the road from a highschool.  If you are driving, you can either park behind the school (you must drive up there, so you can see a real missile and maybe even go up to the presidential park on the hill), or ask the guard at the school to let you into their carpark.  The day I went there was a big mixup and the guard on duty wouldn't let me in.  But, you should be able to park there if you point to the Mei Ning workshop across the road so they know you want to visit there.  Don't try and park on the red line, as cars are towed regularly.

There is no charge to enter the workshop.  I highly recommend the DIY activities!  I don't often like DIY, but here your children can be taught by professional seamstresses who are very warm, kind, and generous.  For TWD200, you can make a Barbie dress.  For TWD600, you can make a dress and take the Barbie home.  There are also a selection of traditional beanbag games and pencil covers to make. We made the beanbag game, which was also TWD200.  If you are a Barbie enthusiast, you can select a handmade outfit from around TWD1,500 to TWD6,000.  Or let your child choose an outfit for Barbie or Ken; clothes plus accessories for just TWD100.

Before You Leave Taishan:
Do stop and have dinner at the Italian cafe/restaurant next to the Mei Ning workshop.  The food is fantastic. Menu is limited - four or five choices, written in Chinese, but the chef speaks English and is very helpful.  Pasta TWD100 a huge plate, soup TWD40.  As you can see by their displayed food, they use authentic ingredients, and their pasta is nothing like "Taiwan-Italian".  They also give you free Assam tea (well, actually, they force it upon you, but that is not something to complain about.)  It's just two doors down from the Mei Ning workshop, next to the community guard's little office.

I told the staff at the workshop that I have this blog, and they took some photos to put up here.  So, here they are:

Children with their DIY projects.

Daughter outside the workshop

If you want some information before you go, please take a look at my previous posting about Barbie and Taishan.

How to get to Taishan:
1. There is a free bus from Taipei.  The link is in Chinese but worth printing out and asking about.
2. Drive on highway 1 from Taipei to WuGu exit.  When you get off the ramp, veer left and then stay to the right, following the signs to Taishan.

Meining Workshop: 
1F No. 10-6, Cinsiou Road, Taishan Township, New Taipei City (地址:台北縣泰山鄉辭修路10-7號 (泰山高中校門口正對面)

Tel: 02-229607890
Hours: Tues-Sat 9am-6pm.  (On Mondays, please call first)
Website:  http://www.meining.com.tw/

Taishan Cultural Center:
**A BIG thank you to reader Andre, for giving us this information:

No. 26號, 楓江路26巷, Taishan Township
Taipei County, Taiwan 243
Tel: 02-8531-1406
Google map
Also, a restaurant I recommend in the area is 好麥餃子館 (haomai dumpling house).
Address in chinese: 台北縣泰山鄉明志路一段82號  (Ming Ji Road Sec 1, No. 82)
I couldn't find any english info, but below are some blog write-ups in chinese:


March Performance Must-See:National Symphony Family Night

These sell out really fast!  I hope that this entry is in time for people to actually go and get tickets, as the last time I posted, it was already sold out.  So, after you read this, rush out and get your tickets as soon as you can.

When: March 31st, 7:30pm
Where: National Concert Hall, National Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Center*
What: "Magical Evening with Jimmy"
How much:  Tickets TWD300/500/800
Where to buy tickets: Through the 7-11 IBON, 7-11 website, Eslite bookstores, and a wide number of small bookstores and music stores

*MRT CKS Memorial Hall stop exit 5


What would you like to see more of?

This blog has been running for a few months now.  I've been reading a few books about successful blogs (including "Problogger" by Rowse & Garrett), and upon professional suggestion, will now create a quick questionnaire.  Actually, all I really hope to find out is, what would you like to find out more about when you visit this site?
  • Events?
  • Playspaces?
  • Outdoor places?
  • Tips for educating kids in Taiwan?
  • Travel deals for families in Taiwan?
  • Something else I am totally missing?
I've been in Taiwan for fifteen years, and my children are now six and four years old.  They attend public school, and I am a trained teacher.  I read and write Chinese.  That should give you an idea of my background, to help you suggest things you would like to see more of here.

So, please leave a comment and help me give you more of what you would like to find here!


March Performance Must-See: Bilingual Performances by Mikado Children's Theater

Mikado Children's Theater has two plays coming up this half-year, both of which have bilingual shows.  Don't be put off by the fact you can't read anything on the first page, just go through and watch a few clips... and please turn down your speakers before you click on this link.  You have been warned!  Anyway, from the images you can see it could be fun to go one of their performances.

Mikado Theater address: Taipei city, Bade Road Sec 4, No. 765, 3F

演出場地:米卡多劇團: 臺北市八德路四段765號3樓(02)25284765

Link to ticket sites for bilingual shows:
米卡多故事劇場-胖胖熊的心願 (March 6)

米卡多故事劇場-真假公主(中英文) (June 5)

March Performance Must-See: The Three Little Pigs & Little Red Riding Hood

Last year, we went to a play by this Japanese performance group.  If you have children aged three to eight years, this is a wonderful show to take them to.  The show has Chinese-language voiceover but little ones could get by, as they sing and dance a lot during the show, and they are really very animated.  They are traveling around the country this March (2011).  Here is a link to the Chinese ticketing site.  If you need assistance, feel free to ask me in the comments section and I will translate for you.  It's quite a list, so I don't want to do a full translation but I am very happy to help you find a show near you.


National Taiwan Arts Education Center - Children's Artwork Exhibits Now On

From now until the end of February, the National Taiwan Arts Education Center is hosting two exhibits of art by children.  The Center is on Nanhai Road (the same grounds as the Botanical Gardens).  Here is the link to all the English information you need:

Keelung's Fairy Cave - Kids Love the Adventure

On the north-west side of Keelung (Jilong) Harbor are two wonderfully mysterious sea caves, the result of hundreds of years of waves going through the holes in the mountain.  The sea has receded, and there now stands two fantastic tunnel systems that children love to walk through, with a history that grownups can appreciate.

The Fairy Cave:
The excitingly narrow passageway

From which era is this? Ching Dynasty? Japanese Occupation? Post 1949?
Beautiful shrine in the back cavern.

Story of the Fairy Cave

To the right of the temple entrance are some steep stairs.  Take the short walk to enjoy a small park and magnificent views of Keelung Harbor.  It's easy enough for young children to walk if you hold their hands.

One of the climbing areas.  It's quie cold and windy in the winter - bring a jacket!

Story of the Cave of  Buddha's Hand

Can you see Buddha's hand?  Water dripping over this area has made this image.

Just to the right of the Fairy Cave is the Buddha's Hand Cave (佛手洞),  .  A short walk into the chamber leads you to a maze of tunnels, all made by seawater passing through underground in past times.  As you make your way deeper into the cave, it gets warmer and more humid.  It's very clean and fairly dry, just "scary" enough to be cool for kids, without any danger of animals or bugs jumping out at the parents.  Children can also play "spot the handprint".

The final great thing about this little adventure is the coffee shop right by the entrance of the cave.  Their coffee is fantastic.  Children can get a stamp to say they have visited this area, which is great for school projects.  And the staff at the coffeeshop are very friendly and welcoming.  There are also clean public toilets and ample carparking.

This trip took up a couple of hours of our winter afternoon.  You could choose to stay longer in the coffeeshop, or you could head up to the lookout further along the coast if you like a good hike.  To get back to Taipei, follow the road up to Highway 3.

How to get there:
Public transport: Train to Keelung then public city bus 301 to "Fairy Cave" (仙洞)
Car: Take National Highway No. 3 to Keelung, turn to Gangxi outer road. Then take Zhongshan 4th Road to Xiandong. (中山四路).  It's well sign-posted in English.


Facebook 活動 -TWD6,000的產品抽獎機會 promo - TWD6,000 worth of gear for grabs

I try not to advertise my own business site on this blog, but I wanted to give readers a chance to enter this very easy contest.  If you use facebook and like quality products, then consider this promotion, running until Jan 30, 2011.
從今天到1月30日,每十為朋友"like"我們的facebook網頁,您有一個機會參加我們的抽獎活動-我們1月31日會抽,抽獎是一個禮品,市價TWD2,000! (有三個要送囉)...您請的人需要著名,是誰請他們來這才算一位,一定要記得! 跟快來參加!

From now until January 30, for every 10 people you sign up on our facebook fan page you will get one chance to enter our prize draw, to take place Jan 31. Prizes worth TWD2,000 retail, three sets to be won! People you invite need to write that you sent them in their comments. So, get inviting!
I started this business over six years ago, to provide a place for parents to get some more environmentally-friendly and good-quality products.  It's been a great platform for learning about e-commerce, and a way to learn more about parenting in Taiwan.  The bilingual website is http://www.littlewonders.com.tw/.  You can get access to a few parenting articles and other links from the site, as well as take a look at the products we sell.


Barbie Museum (Taishan)

I heard about this museum some time ago, but not being a Barbie-lover, I ignored it.  My daughter is in love with Barbie, and this love triggered my memory.  Doing a search about the museum online, I found this wonderful article about Barbie, Mattel, and how the company helped the development of industry in Taishan in the 1960's.  I now visualise my friends' parents sitting at home, sewing Barbie clothing sets in their living rooms.  This is another place we will visit over the holiday break, so check back for reviews.

開放時間: 週二~週日09:00-17:00,週一及國定假日休館  (Tues-Sun, 9am-5pm)
票價: 免費  (free entry)

CLOSED UNTIL MARCH 2011 Robot Museum (Peitou)

I heard about this place through a friend. It's supposed to be suitable for elementary-aged children. There are working robots and a lot of models. I am going to visit over the winter break and will give it a review. In the meantime, here are the opening hours and contact information:

機器人博物館 (Robot Museum)
台北市北投區學園路2號 (Peitou district, Xue Yuan Rd. No.2) : The University of Engineering at the very top of the hill, not the University of Traditional Arts, which is No. 1
The building is well sign-posted, and is a bit of a trek up the hill of the campus.  The actual museum is on the 4th floor.
電話:02-2894-3356 分機 (extn) 168
開館時間:星期一~五 9:30-17:00 週六日休館 (Open Mon-Fri, 9:30am-5pm) Break for lunch 12-1pm


A list of spas and pools in Taipei and surrounds (English)

Thank you to the Parks and Street Light Office (who knew such an office existed?) for this list.

Muzha Recycling Plant Park - Fantastic for children and dogs

The incinerator chimney painted to look like a happy giraffe is a bit of an icon in Muzha.  You can see it from the highway and from many spots along the roads of Muzha.  A well-kept secret is the gigantic park on the hills near that chimney.  The entrance to the park is on Muzha Road, past the entrance to Highway Three, toward ShenKeng.  There is a sign marking the entrance, on the left if coming from Muzha.  Follow the winding road up the hill to the carpark areas.

The park was set up in 2004, in a successful effort to beautify an otherwise undesirable fact of modern life; incinerators and landfills.

The iconic chimney

Grass skiing fields - if you are lucky, you can catch some of the enthusiasts practicing

The area is dog-friendly, soccer-friendly, kite friendly...

Name of the park in Chinese: 福德坑公園

Yu Cheng Park Swimming Pool - Huge Outdoor Children's Pool

A lot of families like to visit Nankang Sports Center and use the two small children's pools.  But, did you know that just one street over is an older pool, with an enormous outdoor children's pool, outdoor lap-pool, and indoor pools and spa area, too? 

Situated in Yu Cheng Park (玉成公園), the indoor pool is open all year round, and the outdoor pools are open over the summer months (May to September).  The outdoor pool is perfect for children learning to swim, as it's deep enough for them do freestyle without hitting the bottom, but shallow enough for them to stand up to breathe. There is also a toddler pool with a little slide area, and a very big water slide.  Prices are public pool prices (about 100 for adults, 50 for children, but I can't remember exactly).  Staff are fairly easy-going, but they have one rule you have to remember - put your bags in a locker or outside, not in the indoor pool area.

There is a public carpark under the park itself.

No. 55 Chong-Po South Road, Nankang Area, Taipei

Tel: 2727-1075

Society of Wilderness - Sunday Journey through Da An Park

Da An Park is a great place to take the kids to play, run around, and enjoy open spaces.  But, did you know it is also a great place to learn about ecology?

The third Sunday of every month at 9am, there will be a group of people waiting  at Entrance No. 5 (Hoping East Road).  You can take your children there and enjoy a family morning of learning.  Members of the Taiwan Society of Wildnerness will lead you around and teach you about the special ecological features of the park.  This is in Chinese, although members of the group try their best to use English to introduce things to those who need some assistance.

Da An Park information (English).