Farmstay experience in Flying Cow Ranch, Taiwan

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 10, 2017
in

Yes, you read right. Taiwan. Which was where we went for our family vacation last year.

It has taken me such a long time to churn out this post on Flying Cow Ranch because there's been something that has been bugging us for many months since we returned. Bug, as in the literal sense. You see, despite the couple of warnings we had from our friends, the hubby and I still suffered a bad case of sandfly bites and while I had only less than 50 (yes, I do mean only) and they were not serious, the hubby had it much worse and at its peak, he must have had over 200 red, itchy bites all over his limbs.

He has seen a GP, went to his medic and even made a visit to the National Skin Centre for the problem. Apparently, the itch got so bad that for months, he just couldn't seem to shake it and no medication could cure the root of the problem. Yup, it was really bad and for some time, we got worried about whether it was mutating and becoming a serious skin problem. For now, the itch has mainly subsided (though I still see him scratch from time to time) but many of the marks still remain, as if to remind us of our fateful trip.

Right. Before you go screaming in horror, you have to understand the main reason that caused this to happen. While we avoided places like the sand play area that our friends told us to, we were a super adventurous lot who wandered deep into the forests and explored every trail that could be seen on the map. Seriously. Even the staff, who were working in a remote area of the premise, were so shocked to see us and their jaws dropped when we told them we had trekked there. They told us the place was only open to visitors who came by bus and we were the first people they saw who walked all the way from the main area of the ranch. Yes, so we practically walked kilometer after kilometer and set foot in every corner and every turn that we could find. Erm, didn't we have a 6-month old baby with us then? Yes we did!

To make things worse, while we covered ourselves in long pants on the first day, it was so scorching hot that come the second day, the hubby resorted to berms and I wore three quarters. HUGE mistake. That was how the bites appeared on my lower calves and practically all over the hubby's arms and legs (yes, I don't know why but he seemed more prone to them). So we probably only have ourselves to blame and I am just thankful that the kids didn't get it bad. A few bites, yes they had, but we didn't think these were sandfly bites and they somehow healed very soon. Phew.

I guess this hasn't been the best introduction to what we would otherwise call our favourite highlight of the vacation. Yes, despite the bites, which actually only started to become bad after we had checked out and left the farm on our third day, Flying Cow Ranch was an absolute delight for the kids because they got to come up close with nature, including the bugs and animals which never fail to thrill them. Here's sharing more on our experience and I took so many photos when I was there so I'll be sharing the nicer ones with you here too. Enjoy reading!

******

Started in the year 1975 and occupying 170 hectres of land, Flying Cow Ranch is a tourist attraction ranch located in Tongxiao, Miaoli. It is one of the more popular farmstays in Taiwan and there are many child-friendly activities for little ones to take part in. Some hold the view that it is a little too commercialised and for a more authentic experience, they choose to go Yilan instead. For us, we decided to give Flying Cow a try and with three young kids in tow, we chose to stay a total of 3D2N.



How did we arrive at the ranch? Well, we came from LeoFoo Village (you can read all about our experience of the safari and the theme park here) and we took the easiest option - by taking a cab. When I made my online booking of LeoFoo, I had already made the cab booking to fetch us from the airport to LeoFoo and then from LeoFoo to Flying Cow, so it was pretty straightforward for us. Most of the cab drivers here are really friendly and we usually strike up a conversation with them since the journey can be quite long.

We arrived at Flying Cow in the late morning and since the room was not ready yet, we decided to start our exploration and make full use of our first day there. The funny and rather amazing thing was that we ended up staying out till plus 9pm and even though the room was already set up in the afternoon, we didn't get to step in till late at night. Yes, I told you we are a crazy kind of family. The other families whom we met during the DIY activity at night couldn't believe that we had been out the entire day and were so surprised that our kids could tahan too. Oh please, I honestly think they were feeling much more energetic than me.

Anyway, before I move on to the activities we did, here's a quick look at the room we stayed in.

ACCOMMODATION

We stayed in a standard room for four which has a cosy area of 26sqft and consists of two double beds. The amenities are quite basic but you get what you need - TV, kettle, fridge, hair dryer, toiletries (with fresh milk as an ingredient!), mineral water, coffee, tea, standing shower etc. The lighting was warm and ambient, and since we only needed beds to crash after having been out the whole day, this room sufficed to meet our needs. There was also a small balcony area which we didn't open for fear of the insects flying in.




The main lounge is an area where you can sit down to have a rest, wait for your room or just read the newspapers and make use of the complimentary WiFi too.


ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS

Moving on to the main highlight for the kids, the close encounter with the animals, of course! To be honest, we came up close with much less animals than we did when we were in Lillydale, Australia (read about how we fed wallabies, rode on ponies and milked cows in Lillydale here). Still, the kids are always thrilled when we tell them that they get to feed animals and this, they did aplenty in Flying Cow.

First up were the goats! We were surprised to see that there was no one guarding the hay and if you see the little signboard, it says that the store relies on honesty and each pack of hay costs TWD10 (less than SGD0.50), which you will need to put into the money box if you are to take one. Yes, I don't suppose visitors who travel all the way to the ranch will wanna play cheat and save on just a couple of dollars, right?


The kids were so happy that the goats loved the hay (tell me you know the feeling of wanting to feed animals but they don't seem to reciprocate the attention) and we ended staying at this first station longer than we thought we would. Still, it was a reminder for us to take it slow, savour every moment and just enjoy the tranquility of our surroundings, which is what a farmstay is about.



In case you forget the timings for the activities, they are displayed on this prominent signboard placed on the grass patch. Let me test you and see if you can spot the activity written in the last column in pink.


What? A duck parade? Yes, it's really a duck parade. Not only do you get to see them dashing towards the bell, you also get to feed them with grains and the girls loved letting the ducks peck directly from their palms. Yes, my brave girls, you have no idea about that, just wait till you scroll to the bottom.



Seriously, that must have been the first I saw dozens of ducks, or rather over 100 of them, waddling towards us and it was really quite a fascinating sight.




Do your kids like bunnies too? Mine sure do and there's no way they can reject the chance to feed those fluffy, long-eared animals. There is this Rabbit's Home where you get to see different breeds of bunnies and get to feed them too.




Moooo! Now it's time for the cows! We nearly missed the feeding time for the cows and thankfully the staff had half a bottle of milk left for us, if not the girls would have been so disappointed. Yes, we've fed fawns and wallabies but this was our first time feeding a calf. I must say he had a really strong suction and I had to help the kids to hold the bottle just in case he yanked it away.

Who wants to milk the cow? Me! Yes, they don't let the kids do this so the hubby and I took turns to try. I remember I was told before that it resembles squeezing a tube of toothpaste and you need to get everything to the tip before anything comes out. Anyway, they let us try it out but all the milk was squirted onto the ground, what a waste!



That's about all the different types of animals you get to feed in Flying Cow and if your kids can't get enough of it, there are many more goats in the ranch and you get to feed them at any time during the day too. Yup, just remember to pay for what you take.


We saw these huge bunches of leaves (TWD20 per bunch) and couldn't help buying a few of them because the long leaves made it easy for the kids to feed and it seemed like the goats much preferred these fresh leaves than hay too. Yup, we easily spent a hour a day, or more, here. We did get some mosquito bites from this area but those didn't really affect us much.


Right, more goats! This one was interesting because they are kept on a tall metal structure and at first glance, it didn't seem like there was anything we could do to interact with them other than taking pictures or watching them trying to battle it out on the bridge.



But, upon a closer look, we discovered this rope system that has a metal tin tied to it and works using a pulley system. So what you can do is to put some food into the metal tin, pull the rope and then watch it go all the way up before the goats come over to gobble everything.



DIY ACTIVITIES

One of the interesting highlights of the farmstay is that you get to participate in some DIY activities too and they help to promote family bonding. Remember I mentioned we stayed out till past 9pm on our first day? Yup, after a whole day of exploration, we went straight to the DIY room for our first activity - 剉冰 (shaved ice making)! This activity was included as part of our stay so we didn't want to miss it.

It's a very basic and simple task - just put in a chunk of ice and make use of the machines to shave the ice before finally adding red bean topping! It was more about the fun, the bonding and interaction as family and you bet the girls were thrilled to make their first shaved ice.

See what's so special about the ice? Yes, it's not just ice, it's more like frozen fresh milk which makes it super yummy and refreshing. Well, actually the kids didn't like it as much as I did so I ended up eating most of it. Haha. Yay!


For our second DIY activity, which we paid for, we made some milk cookies!

Everything was done from scratch so we had to make our own dough using flour, milk, sugar and eggs. It was a good one hour break from the outdoor heat and the girls enjoyed this activity pretty much.

Their favourite part was using the cookie cutters to cut out their favourite shapes from the dough. Once this was done, all we had to do was wait while it baked.

While waiting, the kids were also tasked to do their washing up right outside the room and while it was challenging to clean oily cutlery and bowls, I like that they were made responsible for their own mess and that they had to clean up after themselves.

If you would like to take part in the DIY activities, do ask for the timings when you check in and be sure to arrive at the venue slightly earlier.

Look! Our cookies are all done and not only were our tummies full, so were our hearts.


FOOD

I'm sure you want to know about the food that is offered on the ranch, right? Unlike some farms where you need to buy your own groceries and cook your own meals, Flying Cow has not one, but four restaurants to cater to your dining needs. And guess what? We tried out all four of them.

Before I talk about the food, here's something that the kids looked forward to every morning - collecting bottles of ready-to-drink milk from the Milk House!



Yup, you will be given vouchers when you check in and every day, you can use the vouchers to exchange for bottles of milk for the family. Actually, the bottle said 'Malt Milk' and it tasted yummy and fresh, so we would look forward to it every morning.


It's definitely a healthier choice and a good way for the kids to start their day too.

-> Flying Cow Restaurant

We were not sure which restaurants served better food so on the first day, we decided to try our luck and have lunch in the Flying Cow Restaurant. Once we entered, we were greeted by a souvenir shop and two enormous cow statues!



With kids who love soup and rice, we thought the hot pot would be the natural and ideal choice for our family. If you prefer, there is also an ala carte menu and all the prices are stated clearly beside the items.


Did the hot pot turn out fantastic? Well, not really. The milk (yes, it's a milk hot pot) seemed a little diluted and while we can't say that the meat and vegetables were not fresh (the prawns could have been better for sure), the meal just didn't have that oompphh factor that would have blown us away.


-> Fast Food Restaurant

For our next day lunch, we decided to make it quick and turn to fast food instead. I was also curious to find out what kind of fast food you could get on the ranch.


A look at the menu revealed that we could choose from burgers (pork, beef, chicken, mushroom veggie) and the usual fast food such as crispy chicken, nuggets, french fries etc. For a price of TWD188 (less than SGD9) for a beef burger set that includes the burger, five nuggets and a Coke, I thought that the prices were fairly reasonable considering it was such a touristy attraction.


The kids tucked into the crispy chicken and nuggets which seemed pretty much ordinary (I actually prefer McDonald's nuggets and KFC's crispy chicken) but being kids, any visit to the fast food restaurant seemed like a treat to them. As for me, I have this thing for meat burgers so I couldn't miss out on giving the beef burger a try.


My verdict? Yes, I think it was pretty worthwhile and the beef patty was juicy and tender, just the way I liked it to be done.



-> Red Barn Restaurant

We like to indulge a little more during dinner as compared to lunch as the latter usually seems more rushed and our tummies are less hungry too. Moreover, we will be very excited to carry on exploring for the second half of the day and it's only when we sit down during evening time do we unwind and take things slower.

The Red Barn Restaurant serves an array of mainly western cuisine, including pan-fried sirloin steak, beef stew, salmon, ink spaghetti and risotto. To be frank, we prefer Chinese cuisine (especially the hubby) to Western but this seemed worth a go and so we did.


And it was such a good thing we did because the food turned out better than I had expected! The food portion was generous and each dish came with a salad, soup, bread and even dessert. Check out what we ate!



Yeap, I ordered the carbonara, the kids had spaghetti in meat sauce while the hubby tucked into the crispy pork knuckle. The pork knuckle was roasted just nicely and the skin was so finger licking good too!

Oh, on a side note, the Red Barn Restaurant is also where we had our daily breakfasts too and let's just say there wasn't much to boast about. However, there was congee, noodles and some side dishes like fried egg and stir-fried vegetables which sufficed to meet our simple needs.





Back to the dinner part, I mentioned dessert, right? It was such an special and memorable one that I have to share in detail about it. Can you guess what it is? Hint: Something to do with milk!


 

These are... MILK PUDDINGS! How round and how cute, right? The kids were absolutely fascinated by them and so was I too. I mean, when do you get your pudding served in a balloon, right?


So, how do you actually eat it? Well, it's really easy and fun! You will be given a toothpick along with the pudding so all you need to do is poke a hole in the balloon.


It breaks quite easily, revealing the round pudding and you can just take out the leftover tip of the balloon and start to enjoy your dessert!


We were told that there were three flavours: mango, milk tea and original. The girls loved the mango flavoured one while my favourite was the milk tea! Yes, I am a fan of red pearl milk tea too!


-> Cow's Hot Pot

Good things are usually saved for the last, aren't they? On our last night, we had a sumptuous dinner at Cow's Hot Pot and up till now, I still can't forget how and shiok it was. If you only have time to visit one restaurant when you come to the ranch, this has to be the one.



I don't know if it was because we were hungrier that night or if we were just trying to savour our last moments, but everything at our dinner table that night just seemed so appetizing and we couldn't wait to get started.



The girls were thrilled to get their own hot pot too and were more than happy to help to drop all the ingredients in. I loved how the restaurant felt so cosy and homely and if I had to pick my favourite ingredient, it has to be the beef shabu shabu!



Contrary to the one we had on the first day, this milk hot pot was rich, flavourful and every mouthful just kept you longing for the next. As with all steamboats, the more you cook, the tastier the soup became and I knew I was just so in love with it by the time we were almost done with our meal. It was definitely a right choice to keep this for the last!


A WALK WITH MOTHER NATURE

As I mentioned, we explored every part of the ranch and as long as there was a trail, we had been there. Yes, we walked the entire ranch and even though it took hours and hours, we were just glad to have accomplished it as a family. Here's sharing some of the places we went and sights that we saw. Oh, just so you know, the ranch is somewhat shaped like a hill and while the lodging is at the bottom, the main part of the ranch (including the restaurants, shops and the animals) are somewhere in the middle and you can also hike all the way to the hilltop to visit the butterfly area too. There will be steps and uneven terrain so baby carriers are more recommended than strollers. For a high res map of the ranch, go here.


All the trails are pretty straightforward and even if you don't have the map with you, there are signboards everywhere to help you find your way around the ranch. Yes, don't worry, there are English wordings too!

Here's a look at how some of the trails look like. I must say, the ranch is really quite big so do be prepared for a fair bit of walking. I mean, it's one of the best ways to exercise and us SAHMs don't usually get such chances to work out, right? #positivethinking






You know, some of the trails we walked were so deserted that there would be cobwebs right in the middle of the part, hanging down from the trees. So, instead of saying "Eeeekk" and trying to find other paths, guess how we solved the problem and who became our leader and cleared the way for us?



Yup, the big girl armed with the big stick. The nature lover. The bug's best friend. She was the kid who had to be on her own feet from start to end because while the little sister could get a shoulder ride when she was tired and the little brother was in the baby carrier the whole time, she just walked. And walked. And walked. Speaking of the baby brother, I almost forgot how tiny and chubby he was at that time!


We played in the children's playground and went down on slides.


We took pictures at every photo opportunity we saw.



We picked saga seeds.


We touched cotton.



We blew dandelions.



We found a picturesque spot with a hut, flowers and dozens of butterflies.



We walked all the way to the Barn hoping to see some cattle (as said on the map) but alas there weren't any so we decided to have a "Moo-ing" contest among ourselves instead.



When there were roads, we walked. When there were steps, we scaled.

We paused for a family shot when we saw the beautiful sunset.


We went out of the way and walked far to a plantation area and this was where we surprised the staff who said that they never see tourists walking so far just to get here. But, they were so kind as to bring us around, show us the various crops and even gave the girls a fresh cucumber too!




Not only that, the staff was also preparing this specially made cucumber dip for a tour visit and they asked if we would like to be the first to try it too. Yummy! No venture, no gain, right?

If you have watched the Taiwanese drama 薰衣草, then you might find the glass shop a tad familiar because it was filmed here back in 2001.


Last but not least, it took us long to get to this ulu butterfly garden but we did it! There was not a single soul in sight and the only thing that we regretted was that Ariel got bitten real badly on her arms and face during her short nap which then swelled up for some time. Yup, so never forget to spray on more repellent, cover up your skin or just keep flapping away.


I love this quote which says that as long as butterflies fly above your head, you will be bestowed with bliss.


To be honest, the butterfly house was nothing magnificent and there were only a few butterflies in sight. Some even had broken wings, which was quite sad to see. But you know what? The girls truly enjoyed the experience, especially Angel who managed to let a butterfly land on her palm and got such a big thrill out of it.



Yes, we did all this and more! So, I must say those aching legs were definitely worth it.

BUGS, BUGS AND MORE BUGS!

While most kids come here to interact with the farm animals, my kids had their own agenda - to spot as many insects as possible! Yes, I'm not sure why my girls are so fascinated by creepy crawlies while their mum is rather scared of them, but if it makes them happy, sure, just go ahead and do your thing while I will be the photographer.

Since we took so many pictures of every bug we saw, here's a compilation of them to end off this post. Be amazed, not alarmed! Yes, we saw all these and more in Flying Cow Ranch and the girls had some seriously close encounters with them (only because they wanted to).






















Well, quite an amazing lot, right? Considering these are just some of the bugs and insects we saw and not all. I still don't get it why the kids would want to hold so many of them and get a thrill out of it, just like I don't remember how I survived when some of the paths we walked were teeming with the hairy black caterpillars which freaked me out every time I saw one.

But you know what? To hear the girls exclaim "This is the best holiday ever!" and "Flying Cow is my favourite place of all!", it means a lot to me and thinking back, we created so many precious family memories in this short 3D2N trip which will last me for a long, long time.

So there you have it, our farmstay experience in Flying Cow Ranch was definitely one that was full of adventure, excitement, fatigue and bites. Still, it was one of the best times we had as a family and seeing how the kids love being close to mother nature, we definitely look forward to more farmstays in future. Just hope there will be no sandflies again, yeah?

FLYING COW RANCH 
No.166, Nanho Village, 
Tongxiao Town, 
Miaoli Country 35750, 
Taiwan
www.flyingcow.com.tw/en/home.html

5 comments:

  1. Awesome post. The babies are so cute!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Which part of the year did you go to Flying Cow?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks so much for the details! It is so useful to me as Our family will be going flying ranch this November. May I check if there're many sandfly in the "main area" of the ranch?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello,
    I am James Loan Funds the legal owner of a fast and liable loan that
    issue out both short and long terms loan to all individual private
    and business men/women anyone interested should contact for more
    details: jamesloanfirm72@gmail.com

    Please pardon me for disturbing your valued time.

    This is a Finance Lending Organization; we are specialized in funding
    and offering of Loans @3% rate to interested individuals and companies
    who are seeking financial assistance and business growth or business
    expansion fund. We offer Loans with a dependable guarantee to all our
    qualified applicants: jamesloanfirm72@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete

Yoohoo, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving your comment! I am feeling the love! (^.^)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...