Saturday, January 12, 2013


day 2 : 14th Dec 2012

The effect of sleeping in a room full of Doraemon-s. You'll end up looking like Doraemon the next day!

Mr. Chen, our driver for the next few days arrived sharp at 9AM. We jumped out of bed, washed our Doraemon faces away, packed and off we go in Mr. Chen's super polished Honda Accord. 

Mr Chen was super polite (not sure why I like using "super" terms for Mr. Chen..hehe...) and asked us if we fancy a typical Taiwanese breakfast or something heavier like rice. "Taiwanese Breakfast please!". 

This shop was packed. I looked at the menu and went  ??? 
So, I can't read the menu. Boo-Hoo! It's all right, give me the special. Whatever special it is, I prayed it's edible.

My breakfast comes in a form of sandwich filled with roasted pork and eggs slathered in mayonnaise. The sandwich comes with either a milk tea or avsoya bean milk. I am not a big fan of milk tea. I love milk and tea but  I just don't like mixing them together. 

While munching away, Mr Chen stopped at the Martial Arts Compound of the Taichung Criminal Law Enforcement Office. During the Japanese reign, this building was the place that hosted the Japanese martial art club (Budokan). 

I wonder how old is this tree?

It was nice to see the grandpa enjoying an afternoon play time with his grandson by the Japanese pond

Did I tell you where we're heading today? Oh well, you would've already guessed it right when clicking on this post. It was an uphill journey once we left Taichung. On the way to Alishan, we stopped by the famous Everlasting bridge.

There are 2 suspension bridges here but this is the only one open to the public for now. The other bridge was affected by a recent landslide and is closed.

We fooled around since we can't climb the second bridge until...

Piak! I felt something fell on my head. Something liquid! OMG! Did some bird just dropped its poo on my head? I was in a frenzy checking on my head. "Where is the bird sh*t?" But my head felt clean. I asked Hobs to check and there wasn't anything on my head. Strange but true and thankfully it's not bird poo!

So, we quickly made our way to the temple right in front of us and thanked God :p

This is one of the many temples we are going to see in Taiwan. Though it is just a small temple, we were intrigued by the intricate carvings and ornaments found in this temple. 

All right folks, we gotta make a move. We got up to Mr Chen's super shiny car and we climbed further up
into the mountains. Trust me, those people with motion sickness better pop a pill before heading up to Alishan. See we're about to cross this bridge by car!

Woohoo! We're close. We stopped by to see the old railway and train heads in Fenchihu. 

This town used to be an important stop for the Alishan railway where the train that travels from Chiayi refuels before heading up to Alishan. During this time, passengers will come down to relax and enjoy a short meal. Fenchihu is famous for its lunch box that dated back to the days where the town is at its prime. So here we go...

Each of us were given a tin of food. We carried the tin and find ourselves a corner to eat. It felt really old school and of course it is. In fact, the shape and contents in the lunch box has always been like this since the 80s. So what's inside?

Tada! Rice, braised chicken,  egg, pork and some mountain vegetable served with bamboo-shoot soup. It looks good but I just can't stand the weird smell. I don't know  if it's the meat or the vegetable ... i barely finish or must I say ... barely eat it. Maybe you'll like it since it's really famous and a must try for those that visits Fenchihu but ... not me :)

Exploring the old Fenchihu town after lunch. The cooling atmosphere certainly makes plants bloom and thrive  here. 

Last few cherry blossoms (excited!)

I kept hearing train whistles and thought train's coming! Until I found the source of where the whistle comes from. 

The old locomotives

We continued our journey into Alishan National Scenic Area. Prepare to pay TWD150 per pax for the park entrance fee not inclusive of car entrance fee. We dropped our bags in our hotel first.

The large thermometer outside the hotel entrance shows it's 10 Celcius! Cool! I mean it's really cool!

From here, it's all foot work. We climbed up to Alishan's tourist square. The good thing is, our hotel is just this stair ways apart from the spot.

I know Taiwan has countless 7-11 stores. But I am just curious, how many? According to Wiki, Taiwan has
4,790 stores on January 2011. That's 2 years ago. I bet the number has probably surpassed 5,000 now. In fact, Taiwan holds the record of the highest 7-11 outlet density in the world. If you look closely, you might see a number signifying the number of 7-11 outlet it was when the outlet opened.

I really love the 7-11 there. I can pick up braised egg, tofu, sausage etc hot from the pot. Or make a delicious cup noodle to slurp. Or choose a variety of fresh fluffy bread. Or get some cold and hot drinks. Yes, the hot chocolate drink I just picked up from the cabinet is burning hot. Or you can get a freshly brewed 7-11 City Cafe coffee that some claims to be as good as CBTL and Starbucks but way easier on the pockets. Since we came during Christmas time, coffee is served in a special Christmas cup. All this and I haven't get myself started on the various miscellaneous stuff you can find there.

There are 2 things you should watch out while in any 7-11 store in Taiwan.

  1. 7-11 T-Shirts that had special design representing the area where the 7-11 is located. If you really love Alishan, you should get the 7-11 Alishan T-Shirt as you may not be able to find it in other 7-11 stores in Taiwan.
  1. Special souvenier stamps desks. Luckily, we equipped ourselves with notebooks to collect special stamps representing the area. I am so proud of mine as these stamps are really cute and symbolizes the fact that I've been there in person.

The tourist square (mind the finger :p)

Let's go to the famous Alishan train station. We didn't go for the train ride due to our budget and time. I love trains especially if it can get me somewhere I wanted to go. But the Alishan train is purely for those who wants to experience the steam locomotive with its rich history surrounding it. Don't get me wrong, the Alishan train is something you should try if you had more time to spare. Besides, this is the best transportation that will take you up to see the Alishan sunrise. 

Caution! This person really does not know how to read road signs

Here we go! Our forest expedition starts here...

We walked amongst the giant trees. Lungs filled with fresh air. Head filled with serenity :)

Hobbits probably live here

The younger sister pond. Legend goes, two broken hearted sisters committed suicide here where the younger sister jumped into the smaller pond while the elder sister jumped into the bigger pond.

The larger elder sister pond

I am not sure why the names here consists of brothers and sisters.

Can you see 4 smaller trees growing on top of the fallen larger tree? 

Alishan has many interesting trees to watch out for. This is the pig tree

The heart tree

The walk in the forest was very enchanting with the 10 Celcius weather to set the mood. We came out of the forest into a magnolia garden

Exiting from the garden leads us to a square featuring this colourful Shoujhen temple. In fact, it's the largest temple in Alishan..

We head over to the other side of the forest known as the Giant Trees Board Walk. 

Alishan's sacred giant tree was struck by lightning a few times ending it's life in 1998. We can still see the 600m majestic tree at the entrance of the Giant Board Walk.

We continued walking up the stairs...

Up and up...

Wait...did I just climbed up a hill? How did I do that in my boots?

Ciyun Temple. A Buddhist temple with influence of Japanese architecture at the top of the hill

3 generations of trees growing on top of each other

The sacred red cypress tree. It's too big to capture the whole thing by our cameras. Look at how puny we were.

The dude trying to do Oppa Gangnam style here?

The top activity in Alishan was to watch the sunrise. While planning for this trip, I was contemplating if we should catch the sunrise. Which means, waking up in the wee hours, catch the Alishan train and travel up to a vantage point (Jhushan) to watch the sunrise. After all, that's one thing all Alishan visitors should do (says some travel guide)

To catch the sunrise, one must:

1. Wake up before 4am
2. Walk up to the train station (uphill with lots of stairs)
3. Get into the train with a hundred tourists. Might need to stand for 30 minutes if one is not lucky enough to get a seat
4. Wait until the sun comes up together with the same hundred tourists
5. Buy/equipped oneself with solar glasses if one does not want to burn their corneas. Might be blinded if one stares too long at the sun
6. See the same sun you see back at home rise up from Yushan mountain range
7. As soon as it's over, get into the train with the same hundred tourists back to the hotel.
8. Must not sleep when one reaches the hotel or else one might waste one day and all you can say is "I watched the sunrise and nothing else on that day because I was catching up with my sleep the whole afternoon"

Before I even start, I've already failed point number 1. I am not waking up at 3am or 4am while I am on vacation. Again, don't get me wrong. I am just not a morning person but if you are, I bet it'll be a spectacular sunrise. Too bad, it's not really my thing.

Back to where we left off .........................................

The sun started to set. We weren't expecting this but we are about to spectate the best sunset in our life.
The viewing deck near the Ciyun temple gives a panaromic view of the mountain range. We were lucky to see beautiful rolling clouds that set as the backdrop for the sunset.

At one point, the clouds looked like the sea bed, causing some visual tricks on us.





Since we are going to miss out on the sunrise, we couldn't be happier by just watching it set. Casting different colours across the horizon with the rays shaping the curves of the rolling clouds. We couldn't ask for more!

Dinner was at a hot pot restaurant. We didn't order the hot pot cause we felt the price was way too steep here. We opt for a 5 course meal for 3 for just NTD480.

The food was pretty decent consisting of rice, braised chicken, stir fried cabbage, fish fillet, hot and sour tofu, some flower soup. It was nice to have a proper and warm meal as the temperature drops below 10 Celcius that evening. 

We took a chilly walk back to Wen Shan hotel. We took our keys, Fumi & Hobs started to lug our luggages up the stairs towards our room at the second floor. I was like "No way, where's the lift?"

The lady at the reception was on the phone speaking Hokkien. Aha! I thought I could finally put it to good use. 

"Chi Peng Oo Tien Thui Bo?", I asked (Any lift here?)

The lady was surprised we speak Hokkien but responded back in Mandarin. Boo Hoo...
"Mei Yow" (Nope, no lift) Boo Hoo x 2 ...

As we walked into our narrow room, my nose detected some stench from the bathroom (although it looks clean to me). The room was so tiny that we had no proper place to place our luggage. Finally, I found a tiny nook next to the bed for my luggage and was happy about it until I found out I couldn't even fully open my luggage. Yes, it was that small. 

At one point, we thought of throwing out the chairs as it's practically useless and really a waste of space! I mean, who sits there? To watch people sleep? Or to admire the weird painting on the wall?

One thing I always like to do when entering a hotel room is to jump into the bouncy bed. After our "hike" around Alishan today, I was so tired. 

So, I crashed into my bed. I mean, I really CRASHED into my bed. Dang! The bed has no spring and it was so hard I almost broke my bones!

Fumi tried to take shots of the room. Me - trying to "disappear" from the room - FAIL

It's been a long day but one of the best days I had in Taiwan :) Good night!

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