Catching up on the last details of my March trip to Taiwan here is a gallery of photographs from the One Resort, an amazing complex set high in the hills above Hsinchu, a city about 30 minutes travel south from Taipei by high speed train.
One of the great advantages of knowing our friend and cycling supporter Hsin-Wen Chang is that she is Associate Professor and head of the Tourism Department of Chung Hua University and she is always keen that we should know about wonderful places to visit in Taiwan.
Visiting her and her family on the Saturday before we left Taiwan was like a magical mystery tour for my colleagues Manfred, Marcio and me. We arrived at the ultra-modern high speed rail station in Hsinchu and were whisked off in a minibus/taxi that suddenly started to climb steep, narrow winding roads up into the hillsides to where a low mist was drenching the hillsides and tea plantations started to take over as the dominant crop.
It seemed like a transition to another age as the busy city dropped away and the hill landscapes took over. At the very top of the hill the minibus pulled through some impressive gates and into what was clearly landscaped parkland.
And so we arrived at Nanyuan.
As we walked up to the entrance it looked like an old palace with lots of intertwining buildings, roofs and walkways of red brick and tiles but it turned out that this was the former home of Mr. Wang Tiwu, the founder of the United Daily News, one of Taiwan’s major newspapers and he had only built it in the 1980s.
But he and his architect had lavished such an amount of care, thought, craftsmanship and almost certainly huge amounts of money to design a property that had everything. Above all else he seemed to prize the qualities of traditional craftsmanship and combined them with values of feng shui to create a place with special qualities.
I wish I could remember everything we were told on our guided tour. I do remember that the whole property is set into the hillside as a giant armchair so it appears to sit and enjoy the view, but there were so many stories of the detailing and the meaning behind the features that I found it impossible to remember them all.
Every section combined water, shapes and colours and seemed to blend them with the surrounding trees and hills as one seamless construction. It is probably this sense of integration that makes the place feel so permanent, it should have been here forever.
Even the modern temporary structures for a series of outdoor events were built to a quality that was hard to beat, no simple awnings here, instead intricate geodesic structures to hold a canopy.
We also had yet another delightful food interlude in the tea house overlooking the lower ponds of the property, it wouldn’t be Taiwanese hospitality without sharing food.
It is possible to stay at the resort, there are a limited number of rooms. I suspect that would be a very special retreat. Sadly not this time, but what I recall now, several weeks later, is that even a simple day trip gave an overwhelming sense of relaxation, a wonderful way to wind down after a very busy week.