Safari Living in Taiwan, Leofoo Resort

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I had to round up my first solo-parenting overseas trip at a high and Leofoo Resort was my choice for the last three days of our Taiwan escapade. The smart way to travel as the only caregiver is to contain everyone in a comfortable resort where everything will be catered for under one roof. I needn't worry about safety because we are all boxed in within a private compound nor need I worry about the availability of food and entertainment. With the resort strategically located just 30 minutes from Taoyuan International Airport, I couldn't have made a better decision.

At Leofoo Resort, the play element is endless. Not only is it a Safari-themed hotel with African herbivores roaming right before your eyes, there is also a Village Theme Park and Water Park within stone's throw. A complimentary shuttle service brings you to and fro the resort and theme park whenever you need one. There is no shuttle timings to follow and that I found very flexible especially when we are on a free & easy agenda. [read: a wholesome take on Leofoo by Life's Tiny Miracles]

The experience was unique and the children could hardly contain their excitement when they found out that a one-on-one encounter with the resort's star animals was in place. Now I must admit. The best thing that happened on this trip was hearing the children converse in their mother tongue. Faye especially picked up the Chinese names of each Safari animal when we interacted with them, which I thought was commendable for a two year old! It was a Chinese immersion holiday with all activities and tours conducted in Mandarin. I cannot ask for a more educational vacation that's infused with lots of fun.

ANIMALS
[1] Giraffe 长颈鹿
Fun Fact: Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth and their legs alone are taller than many humans. They spend most of their lives standing up and only need 5 to 30 minutes of sleep per day!

The children ran to the Landscape Platform on arrival and shouted, "Mommy! The giraffe is here! Look! 长颈鹿!" They could hardly contain their excitement. Despite the heat, they stood there in the open watching the lone giraffe in the enclosure. I vaguely remembered there were two giraffes so where was the other one? Regrettably, I found out that he is now in the hospital because a guest fed him something he shouldn't. The giraffe is tall enough to reach the Landscape Platform where we stood and it is often irresistible to give it a pat on the head. I'd like to humbly request that we respect these animals and their space. Unless on a guided tour to meet Leofoo's animals, we should not step out of our boundaries.


[2] Ring-Tailed Lemurs 狐猴
Fun Fact: Lemurs are natives to Madagascar and when Madagascar separated from Africa, lemurs hitched rides on floating driftwood and other things to get back home. How clever!

Pronounced as "Lee-Mer", they are free-roamers in the resort and you will catch them about anywhere in a pack. I was thankful that they were friendly and docile, never attempting to attack Ewan or Faye. They observed us as much as we observed them.

"Be a Lemur Keeper" was eye-opening for me. We were given hats to shelter from the sun, gloves to protect our hands, boots to cross a narrow river and masks to prevent cross-contamination should human or animal be ill. I was not sure if Ewan and Faye were brave enough for this but they surprised me through and through. There were no signs of fear or apprehension in either of them. They trailed our guide and followed instructions on how to feed this pack of fruit-loving lemurs. I was photographing the children when I felt a heavy tap on my shoulder. I turned to see who needed me only to find a lemur on my shoulder! I wasted to time and started snapping wefies with her. They say female lemurs are less wary of strangers.

Time: 0940 and 1510 hours daily
Duration: 30 minutes
Price: NT499 | S$20 per person




[3] African Spurred Tortoises 乌龟
Fun Fact: How do you tell a female from a male tortoise? Gently pick the tortoise and turn it over. A male tortoise will have a concave-shaped stomach whereas a female has a flat ab!

"Wash a Tortoise" is a fun activity and Ewan claimed that this was his favourite. Once again, I was taken aback by Faye's bravery when she stepped into the tortoises' enclosure on her own with no attempts to run away. A gigantic tortoise was creeping up behind her where she stood and I was so afraid of her safety! They say tortoises are slow but they can give a bad bite. Well, she doesn't know that of course and swiftly moved away for that tortoise to pass. The children were given a pail of water, sponge and toothbrushes. Their task was to brush the shells clean while these reptiles have their leafy lunch. Alas. Faye ended up in her own water play world with that bucket of clean water that was meant for the tortoises.

Time: 1420 hours [June to September Only]
Duration: 30 minutes
Price: NT499 | S$20 per person


[4] Alpacas 羊驼
Fun Fact: Camels are famous for spitting when they’re annoyed, and as a distantly related species, alpacas will do the same. But alpacas only do this when they’re very upset so do not piss off an alpaca!

"Be an Alpaca Keeper" had us feeding a family of three long stands of leaves. I had thought these were llamas and learnt a whole lot of new information about alpacas after one interactive session. Not only can they be house-trained like dogs, they are fussy with the cleanliness of their food! They preferred us feeding them by hand and if we dropped any leave on the ground, they will forgo it. Wow! Have they been domesticated after 6000 years of evolution?

Time: 1030 and 1430 hours daily
Duration: 30 minutes
Price: NT499 | S$20 per person





[5] Barbary Sheep 羊
Fun Fact: They can jump incredibly high about 2 metres from standing! I wouldn't have known!

I had mistaken them as goats instead of sheep. Well, there are so many species of 羊 that I never had a chance to catch up with. They were housed at the back of the resort [turn right at the entrance and make another right turn] and were very friendly towards us. My guess is they get fed by visitors through the fence and I must trumpet this once again that we should not feed any animals unless provided by the resort's guide.




[6] Zebras 斑马
Fun Fact: Every zebra has a unique set of stripes just like our fingerprints. Baby Zebras recognise their mothers by their body stripes too.

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of a zebra on the day of arrival. Maintenance works for their home was due for the next day and they will be removed from the enclosure until all is done. Yay to a great picture of these Safari animals!


[7] Rhinoceros 犀牛
Fun Fact: The name rhinoceros means ‘nose horn’ and is often shortened to rhino. It comes from the Greek words rhino (nose) and ceros (horn).

We rhino-watch every single time we return to our room. They are smelly, boorish and uninteresting. Yet, the children enjoyed observing its every move. This pair of rhinoceros kept them entertained in their own ways too. Faye kept going back and forth that she knew its Chinese name is 犀牛! Thanks to Ewan who taught me this as well. I would have never known.


[8] Bears, Gibbons, Tigers and Lions 熊,猴,虎,狮
"Beasts Encounter" brings you face-to-face with these ferocious carnivores. For an entire hour, you will ride in a caged vehicle with a guide who will also bring food for these beasts. They will pound on the cage to feed and you this will be the closest you will ever get to a tiger or lion. Here, the watcher has become the watched. 

I was tempted to give this a go and was willing to hire a babysitter for Ewan and Faye. Unfortunately, they did not have this service on-site. I guess I will have to return a second time to give this experience a go! This activity is extremely stimulating and thus it is not suitable for children under the age of ten, senior citizens over 70 years old, pregnant women and persons with cardiovascular conditions. 

Time: 1000, 1110, 1310 and 1420 hours [except Wednesday]
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: NT1999 | S$83 per person
Age Restriction: 10 to 70 years old

[Pictures courtesy Leofoo Resort]




[9] Safari Tour
This tour will bring you deep into the heart of the African Savannah with an eight-seater RV. The same safari animals can also be viewed at Leofoo Village Theme Park via a train or bus. The experience will not be as close as this Safari Tour brought to you by the resort but I had this skipped because I decided that we've seen enough from the day before in the Theme Park.

Time: 6 sessions daily
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: NT950 | S$40 per adult and NT650 | S$30 per child [aged 3 to 11]

[Picture courtesy of Leofoo Resort]



FREE ACTIVITIES
[1] Animal Introduction
A mandarin speaking guide gave us a walk-through on all the fun facts of every animal housed in the resort's centre court. It was an interactive session where questions and answers bounced back and forth. While we animal-watched, we learned a lot more about each species from the knowledge she shared. I am loving the educational element of our stay in Leofoo thus far!

Time: 0840, 1315, 1600 and 1700 hours daily
Duration: 15 minutes
Location: Landscape Platform

[2] Animal Party
I didn't know what to expect of this when I saw it on the Activity Sheet. An animal party sounds rather happening indeed! I nudged the children out from their afternoon nap and shouted, "Animal Party!" There was no crankiness at all when they woke and they quickly changed out of their PJs to attend this mysterious animal party.

So what was it? It was the appearance of a Lion mascot in the main lobby! Faye has never been a fan of mascots and the only one she was willing to go close to till date is Pororo. When Ewan and other little guests played a game of "What is the time now Mr Wolf Lion?", she just watched from afar. If you want your mascot to play a game with your child, just request for it! They will most likely accede to it. What's more important than keeping their youngest guests happy!

Time: 0910 and 1630 hours daily
Duration: 20 minutes
Location: Main Lobby


[3] Welcome Show
For a moment I felt like I was transported to Africa. Was I in Taiwan? Impressed much that they got natives in for the job and authenticity! The vibe was great and energy level high. We were all smiling from ear to ear as we watched them performed for us. The only pity I felt was the venue. It was held at the Main Entrance's Car Porch. Awwww..

Time: 1500 and 1730 hours daily
Duration: 20 minutes
Location: Resort Entrance


[4] Bedtime Story
My favourite free session of the lot. So was it for Faye and Ewan. I found this a very clever inclusion to wind the day down with a bedtime story! It saves parents one extra "chore" for the night before the kids went to bed. The session was very interactive and my children were lucky to be the only ones on the first night because they got to steal an extra story before we went back to our room. On the second night, it was a full-house and we enjoyed it as well. Laughing together as a group to the lively storyteller was the best kind of ice-breaker.

Beautifully decorated, the story room is very welcoming and there is a tinge of playfulness in it. The stories were told in mandarin as well and it boasted a marriage of storytelling and technology all in one.

Time: 2030 hours daily
Duration: 30 minutes
Location: Room 328 at the Giraffe Wing, Ground Floor






LION KING'S PLAY ROOM
The Lion King's Play Room is like a Kids' Club of some sorts. With natural daylight streaming in fro all angels, it is the perfect room for crafting. There are DIY activities such as face mask painting, maraca making, drum painting, sandles making and many more. A staff will be on hand to guide you through the craft work and their charges are dependent on which handiwork you choose to make.

There is also a toddler play area and a shelf filled with storybooks. If only there was more toys than the single play kitchen they had, Faye would have stayed longer on that platform.

They were attracted to the craft tables but they were also too young to be engaged in making sandles or painting a kite. I checked with the staff if they were allowed to doodle on blank sheets of paper with the paintbrushes and we were given the "go ahead have fun!". Oh that made the children's day.

We returned again the next day because this is the kind of fun they like to indulge in. Unfortunately, it was a different attendant in the play room and our request had been rejected. We were told that all craftwork had to be paid and if we weren't doing anything on the craft menu, we won't be able to use their paintbrushes. The children were disappointed to the bone but well, rules are rules and I won't fight it. Ewan and Faye will have to learn from their setbacks but I highly recommend the resort to iron out all inconsistencies. In any case, what loss does the resort make if they just doodled on rough papers in a room that has no other guests than ourselves?

Time: opens from 0930 to 2000 hours daily






ACCOMODATION
We were accommodated in Kenya Greenery View Room 218 at the Giraffe Wing. It is a spacious 60 square metres duplex decorated in invigorating yellow which echoes the classic scene of a fiery sunset over the African Savannah. Murals on the wall portray a wilderness ambience and we got an inquisitive lemur in our room. There are three double beds in total - one on the lower floor and two on the upper. This room is suitable for families of six and for us, a party of three? Ewan decided that afternoon naps are to be taken on the upper deck and we will take the bed on the lower floor for the night. So hey! We did utilise all three beds during our stay.

The french windows that open up to our private balcony allowed sunlight to stream into our room. It was a beautiful sight to watch when we wake in the mornings. The first thing the children wanted was for the curtains to be drawn so that they can look for Miss Long-Legged Giraffe.

I was disappointed to note that there was no bathtub in our room because the children love a good bath [in a tub]. As Leofoo Resort is an eco-hotel, encouraging harmony between Mother Nature and humans, wasting water to run a bubble bath is the last thing they would bring themselves to do. So we got standing showers instead and there are two standing showers in the Kenya Rooms! Not only that, there are also two closed-door toilets and amenities  enough for six people in a room. There are toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, disposable shaving kits, combs and shower caps provided in-room. Not forgetting a water boiler and bottles of mineral water to quench your thirst with.










The Congo Rooms are decorated in passionate colours of orange and pink. These are single-floored rooms one level below Kenya Rooms. They do not own a private balcony but because it is closer to ground, the animals will be on eye-level at the window. Suitable for two to four people in a group.

Note: The Greenery View faces the inside of the resort where the giraffes, rhinoceroses and zebras are. These are, in my opinion, the better rooms to choose from. The Sky View faces outwards. There are also animals to feast your eyes on when you wake but they aren't as scenic as the former. Hop over to Bumble Bee Mum's blog post on "How to choose the Best Room in Leofoo". Remember to put in that request at reservations!

FOOD & BEVERAGE
When you choose the half-board option at room reservations, you will be entitled to daily dinner in the resort as well. With that, both restaurants will accept your orders at no additional cost.

[1] Phoenix Restaurant
Situated on level two, the restaurant serves buffet meals and brags a majestic view of the animals in Leofoo Resort. The variety of food is vast and I was surprised by the spread. The kitchen put in a lot of effort to cater to different palettes - from seafood to meat-eaters and vegetarians. On top of that, there is also a lower table set out for children. A buffet table for children! Very thoughtful gesture which parents will always smile upon.

However, I found the quality of food less than favourable. It was only mediocre and I had a hard time filling my plate a second round.



[2] Cape of Good Hope Restaurant
This African-themed dining space serves creative African cuisine which impressed me so much I'm still talking about it today. There was no menu but the waitress verbally shared their availability to me. I ordered a plate of fried rice for Ewan and Faye to share while I took up their recommendation of a five-course dinner. Every dish came out with the most beautiful presentation and every bite was bursting with flavour. It was a whole lot of difference from the buffet lines upstairs!

I savoured my dinner slowly and finished it only after two hours. How could I do that with two active kids! I bought them a painting book and a toy each from the Cape Town Store. Oh that was the best idea ever because otherwise, I wouldn't be able to enjoy my dinner as much as I had that night.

It was a pity that we were the only guests in the restaurant. Everyone was in Phoenix Restaurant going plate after plate, beer after beer. I would have gone to Cape of Good Hope Restaurant twice in a night if I had know the quality of food measures so drastically from each other.




SERVICE
I must say that the service at the resort was unobtrusive and thoughtful.

I washed Ewan's muddy shoes after the Tortoise encounter and was sure it will be dried by the time he woke from his nap. Well, the sun's blazing hot every single day. Who would have thought the day I needed sun, it had to hide away behind the clouds. Oh bother. So he did not have any shoes to go out in that evening but made do with a pair of socks. The reception staff noticed it and came to us with a pair of kiddy-sized disposable slippers. As an ex-hotelier, I learnt that it is in the little things that make a difference and they did just that with a simple gesture of care.


On the morning of our departure, we did not have time for breakfast. The resort staff had also taken note of our departure time [0630 hours] and prepared breakfast boxes for us to take away! I was really touched by their thoughtfulness for the most important meal of the day shouldn't be missed. Your room rate comes with daily breakfasts so if you have an early morning flight to catch like we did, do request for a take-away! They will be more than willing to help you on that.



It is not a luxurious resort with state-of-the art technologies or immaculate furnishings that make you go Wow. Instead, it gave me an earthy and warm kind of impression from the people to the animal encounters. We had an extremely educational and insightful time at Leofoo Resort and I dare say two full days is a bit of a rush. So do plan in a three day visit if you can!

Downloadables 
Our little Travel companions 
June 2016 - Ewan at 4 years old and Faye at 2 years old 
Click on our Travel tab to read all about our travel tips and tricks
including Taipei for KidsLeofoo Village Theme Park and our Flight on a Hello Kitty Jet!





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Comments

  1. So happy that you finally made it to Taiwan!!!! And Xiao Lee is good hor?! I saw the video on the giraffe on FB yesterday and couldn't stop smiling! LOL! Leofoo resort is one place I have be dying to go... but not made it so far. Next trip maybe!

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    1. I did right! So glad we made this trip because it's really a milestone for mommy me! Oh gosh you haven't been there? I thought you'd have put it in your list on your last Taiwan trip. But no lost. We'll never have enough of Taiwan in just one trip. There'll be many opportunities in the future =)

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  2. HAHAHA... the giraffe doesn't know English!!! Show them that video when they are older to let them see how they fell for it!

    You're not kidding.. the food at Good Hope Cafe looks seriously awesome!! Wish I had that option when I was staying there.

    I was looking for your epic King Julien photo!! But okay, the photo that you posted here is equally epic. Lol...

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    1. lol Really ma! Chinese-trained giraffe wouldn't know English right? hahahah

      I was really surprised why no one came to Cape of Good Hope! I had to ask the reception if they communicated to every guest that this restaurant is also open to the dinner voucher and they said yes they do. Hmmmmm really sad to find out that the restaurant is always empty.

      Someone told me "King Julien" looked devilish so I chose another to post. One that nearly kicked my shades off!

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  3. You've done such a comprehensive virtual tour for all of us on the Leofoo Resort, from the accommodation, to food and even the many fun-filled activities suitable for children. So awesome! We stayed there once few years ago and missed out some of these animal interactions. To think that you managed to do all these while solo-parenting two young kids below 5, SALUTE! Makes me wanna bring Buddy there to meet Mr. Chang Jing Lu too :D

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    1. I really squeezed in everything I could ya? And the children still got to take their daily naps. Great to know that the timings of the animal encounters were scheduled well enough for us to choose either an afternoon or morning slot. If it was only one slot per day, we wouldn't be able to meet and greet so many animals in two full days.

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  4. You made me miss Taiwan so much, didn't get to visit this place during my stay there! I will add this to our travel bucketlist, I am sure the kids (or maybe just G, lol) will love it there!

    Haha! Is that tiny toothbrushes Faye and Ewan holding to help clean the tortoise! So cute!

    Such a thoughtful gesture indeed to pack breakfast, they made sure you, esp the kids don't go hungry! And yes, paying attention to small details does make a lot of difference for any hotel guest.

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    1. Typo alert! *are those tiny toothbrushes

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    2. hahah yes those were toothbrushes. I'm only glad Faye didn't brush her teeth with it Cherry!

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  5. The Lion King Play room looks great! When I went I wondered if it's too late, it was pretty empty with no activities going on.

    Anyway, awesome post you wrote, with everything included! Super mama!

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    1. Oh I love the Lion King Room. If only their "rules" are consistent. The kids were so disappointed when they couldn't get to paint on the second day.

      Thanks for the compliment! Will be adding your link to the blog!

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  6. Always wanted to go on solo trip with my kids. I suggested to my girls before and they claimed its not fun leaving daddy alone, we would rather don't go etc. I will be more persuasive next time round, haha.. You inspired me! Thanks!

    Love your detailed post on Leofoo Resort with lovely photos and videos.

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    1. Awww your girls will miss their daddy too much. So much love. Your girls are also big already! It'll be so much more fun on trips because you get to interact a lot more as compared to cleaning diapers/showering them =)

      Hope this post inspired you for a trip!

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  7. One of the many things we like to do when travelling is visiting the zoos. Now with little Noah here, and the implied association with animals, probably we'll do this even more.

    I'd highly recommend Halls Gap zoo outside Melbourne Australia. No accommodation options nearby that are nearly as good as Leofoo Resort though.

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  8. Gosh it's amazing u all did so much! I think we only did half or less, hahahaha, cos my kids spent most of the time at the theme park (and hor, one ride can sit many times). That Beast Encounter sounds so awesome, wish i can do that with my kids next time (means I have to wait a decade). Haha. Love ur descriptions on all the animals and that Kenya Room looks absolutely awesome too! :) so happy it was a fun holiday for u and ur darling kids!

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    1. Hahah wow! They sat many rounds per ride? I think the only ride we went twice was the carousel! We really had a good time and I kept reliving it through the photos =)

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  9. What a fascinating idea for a resort, it really does seem like you could be in Africa rather than Taiwan - and amazing to be able to meet the animals, especially if it's done thoughtfully. Such a shame about the giraffe. Lemurs are one of my favourites though, so getting up close to them is fabulous. And a lot less scary than the lions... #citytripping

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    1. I know! We enjoyed this trip through and through. It's really great that we got so much fun contained in just one resort. I loved it that the children got in touch with a bit of nature in the midst of a city holiday as well =) The lemurs are very friendly creatures. I would have never known if we haven't had first-hand encounter with them.

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  10. A great resort with a wealth of education too. I can't believe giraffes sleep so little and those sheep certainly look like goats. There are so many activities fir the kids to do topped off by brilliant staff... I am very impressed with the take away breakfast! Great to have you join #citytripping

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    1. Thank you Wander Mum. I realised I had forgotten to hashtag in many posts I've commented on. Better mindfulness next time =)

      It was such an eye-opening experience that the children took back many science lessons about animals during our stay. So did I to be honest!

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  11. I enjoyed your blog, It was educational resort . Thank you for sharing this with us.

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