Out-of-the-Way Amusements: Shangri-La Paradise, Taiwan

I finish my posts about last year's Taiwan trip with the first place I visited: Shangri-La Paradise. It's a small theme park with a large garden located almost in the middle of nowhere.

To get there from Taiwan, I took a local train to a small, unmanned station, where I thought I could take a bus the 2-3km to the park. Asking around, it seems that there is no bus - perhaps they lied to me (, but that doesn't really matter. I asked at the police station and a taxi was called. I think this is the only taxi in Zaociao. Anyway, it wasn't expensive compared to Japanese or US taxis, and I arrived at the park pretty quickly.
 As you may notice from my other posts, several of Taiwan's parks have large gardens or estates, usually similar to European gardens. This park was no different, and one has to walk down a hill and then through the garden to get to the rest of the park. However, a shuttle train delivered me to the rest of the park pretty quickly. I'm not sure how often it runs.
 The garden is quite nice, though the weather wasn't very accomodating. A small bug decided to come out and enjoy a nice breeze.
 Carefully shaped shrubbery is scattered around the garden. But I'm not really here for that. I'm here for one thing.
 Blizzard is the park's only coaster. I don't know why I bothered to come all the way out to this park for one little coaster, but here I was, at 9 AM, looking to get a credit.
 It's a basic coaster that takes a long time to reach the top of the lift.
 Then it slowly inches its way off the edge and coasts around a simple layout before returning to the station. I don't know why all the riders avoided the front. Maybe it's because the coaster goes so slow at first? I think I rode the coaster only once or twice.
 The coaster is located next to a murky looking tube-boat ride. I'm not sure how sanitary the water is, but I wasn't planning on riding anyway.
 Closer to the front of the park is a large building with a bunch of other rides. There isn't a lot to choose from, but the circular ride on the left side of the screen was fun. It spins slowly in a circle and bounces up and down a bit, the goal usually being to throw you from your seat. They weren't successful on my ride - a handful of were on it at the time but we all hung on tight.
 Here are a photo from the ground of some riders waiting to start.
 Next to it is one of these spinny carnival rides. It's not that interesting to me, so I passed.
 The building, which is more of a pavilion, has a large stage and seating area which has a few shows. And a slow balloon ride around the inside of the building - it goes outside on the opposite side of the building for a little while but due to the trees you don't see much.
Upstairs in one part of the building is a bowling alley and arcade. You could probably watch the show from the railing too.
 China is famous for pandas, and Taiwan is almost China, so it makes sense there are random pandas here.
 Even hula dancing pandas surrounded by happy cows!
 Those pandas sure look like they are having a lot of fun!
 Walking back toward the garden and the exit, I saw the water park area with a castle. It wasn't operational when I was there, but given the overcast weather it probably wouldn't have been busy. That said, it looked like it was closed for a period of time as I think the pools were drained or at least quite low.

There isn't a whole lot to do at the park, but my tight schedule that day allowed me only a very limited amount of time. If I had had more time, I probably would have stayed to see a show. Also, it seems that the park as a whole is much larger than I was able to see, and there might be some historical or cultural artifacts to look at. And then there's the garden which is great for strolling.

I must say the staff here was very friendly, especially what must have been a manager working in the front office. He was very accommodating given the serious language barrier and everyone was very helpful in getting me toward the rides. On the same note, since I left so early, the same manager gave me two return passes for free which I hope I am able to use at some point in the future, because I'd love to spend more time at the park.

The park is open from 9-5 daily, with admission at NT$400-500. The closest rail stations are Zaoqiao and Fengfu. I highly recommend having the park's name written (in Chinese) along with a Chinese language map, and be prepared to ask for a taxi at the police station in Zaoqiao. As I mentioned, there might be a bus; you can ask at the tourist information center in Taipei. If you're going just for the coaster, you can be in and out pretty quickly, but it is a time eater due to transportation. The shows look interesting though and it might be worth it to stay a few hours and enjoy the rest of the park too!

That should wrap up my Taiwan trip! After nearly 40 posts since late July, I've finally reported on all the locations I visited and the experiences I have had. While the trip had its ups and downs, overall I had a good time there is still a lot I want to do or even return to. But there's still a lot of Asia to explore, and next year I hope my travels will bring me to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea (for a return trip!). And then there's Beijing, Shanghai, Vietnam, Malaysia...

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