Pinglin (坪林) in Taipei County is one of Taiwan's major tea growing areas. It is also a very nice small town nestled amongst the mountains with a beautiful river flowing through it.
The man in the bronze sculpture above is Lu Yu (陸羽). He lived in China in the 8th Century CE and wrote the Classic of Tea (茶经).
The Pinglin Tea Industry Museum (坪林茶葉博物館) is one of the highlights of Pinglin. The museum is very well presented. It details the history of tea in Taiwan and China and shows the many varieties of tea and the picking and processing of the leaves.
Next to the museum is a traditional style tea house, Pinglin Tea Arts (坪林茶藝), set in a beautiful garden.
Getting to Pinglin once involved a drive over the mountains. For those who have cars it is now very easy to reach via the Taipei-Yilan Freeway (北宜高速公路). The photo above shows the freeway as it goes through the valley near Pinglin. Most of the freeway actually goes through tunnels.
I was riding my motorbike, which is not allowed to travel on the freeway, so on leaving Pinglin I travelled on Route 106乙 to Shiding. This goes over the mountains. Part of the road near the Wenshan Chan Temple (文山禪寺) is lined with golden statues of Guan Yin.
My next stop was Shenkeng (深坑). I wanted to visit Yong-an House (永安居), but I found it was closed on weekdays. I had to content myself with taking a photo from the outside of the building.
Shenkeng is also famous for its tofu which can be cooked in many different ways. I sampled some stinky tofu (臭豆腐) for lunch. Most people would be put off by the name of the dish alone, however it really is quite good. It comes in various flavours including the spicy mala doufu (麻辣豆腐). If your palate is not quite up to it then you can try the deep-fried stinky tofu (炸臭豆腐) which is much milder in its taste.