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[Epic Travel] – Chayi, Taiwan

22 Dec

20130310_092941Hellos~I think this one post per week thing is getting too much for me to handle, with work now, I prefer to lay around and do nothing on my weekends LOL. I’ll be cutting down to 1 post per 2 weeks and see how that goes.

After my home town Kaohsiung, we headed northwards to my other home town Chayi. This is where my dad is from, and where I spend a lot of my childhood time at, because my grandma still lives here. Chayi is consider a small city, and fairly rural area, in Taiwan anyways. It’s not odd to see fields of rice paddies and farms. 20130310_102922Here is the view from the train.

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Our final destination was not the city of Chayi, but actually the famous Alisan Mountain within the city of Chayi. Obviously, a train would not be able to take us up the mountain. Our original plan was to take a bus, while waiting for the bus, a lady started to hound us about taking a taxi instead. This wasn’t like regular taxi, it’s more of a shuttle van (pictured above). A couple of ladies would walk around the train station and what not, and gather up people who are willing to hop on this ghetto shuttle van, and they fit as many people as they can, each paying a certain amount of money depending on the final destination, and they’ll drive people up the mountain and dropping them off. So we paid about $155NT each, which was about the same price as a bus ride would have cost us. But instead of a bus stop, we get to be dropped off at our hostel.
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Our hostel was about half way up the mountain, and it was cheap, very very cheap. It’s probably a better hostel for people that drives. It was about 1 km away from the closest convenient store.
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View from the hostel. The owner was kind enough to drop us off at the convenient store 1km away, as we were dead hungry after our journey. He told us we can either walk down or call him and have him pick us up. While on the way up, he pointed out some scenic spots that tourist buses would stop at and let passengers take pictures.
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We quickly found food at a restaurant. Chayi is actually famous for their shredded chicken/turkey on rice (火/雞肉飯), but we didn’t find any around this tiny little area, so we opted for fried pork chop on rice.

After getting food in our bellies, and buying stuff for the night from the convenient store, we decided to walk down to our hostel instead of calling the owner, because we wanted to see the scenic spots he pointed out. And just so you don’t think we were being wussy about walking the 1km, thinking there are side walks and all that. Nope.
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Yup! A narrow shoulder lane that we barely fit in, with cars and buses zooming by us. It was a pretty interesting experience. But the view made it worth while.
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Just Miles and Miles of tea fields. Breathing in the clean, crisp mountain air that is almost non-existent in Taiwan. It was just breath taking.

Oh! I forgot to mention Alisan is also famous for it’s tea. Our hostel is actually also a tea shop, and the owner has his own tea field. He told us if we wanted to buy tea the town we were in, Shizhuo (石棹), was the place to buy authentic Alisan tea. Otherwise they’d be selling you Vietnam tea at the price of Alisan tea, which costs about 3 times less.

Our adventure continues the next day, at 3 am in the morning. We asked the hostel owner what was the best way for us to go up to Alisan National Park. He asked us if we wanted to see the famous sun rise, we didn’t mind either way. He suggested another shuttle service that would pick us up at the hostel drove us up to see the sun rise, then down to Alisan National Park. Give us a tour of the park, then a tour of the town of Fenqihu. And at last drop us off at the train station. All for the low price of $1800 NT! What a deal! They even included a ticket for a lunch box at Fenchihu. So we decided to do it this way. We called the number the hostel owner gave us. and quickly arranged the trip. When the getto shuttle bus came to pick us up, there were already a few young people in the shuttle. I suppose that’s their way of making sure they make enough money. 20130311_043744 - Copy (2)

We first got dropped off at a shenmu (神木) or sacred tree. This one was about 2000 years old I believe…
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Then it was the big show! we were lucky enough to have a clear day and able to see the sun come out of the mountain. This is actually the 2nd time I’ve seen the sun rise from Alisan. First time I was very very little, so I don’t remember much. when we got up there, there were already a bunch of people and a bunch of abandoned cars and buses on the side of the road. A guy dressed in aboriginal clothing was standing on top of a step ladder announcing to people where to look, and what to expect.
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And here comes the sun!IMG_3006 - Copy IMG_3017 - Copy

I know for us Canadians, or even North Americans, this isn’t a rare sight, but for the people of Taiwan, where cities are mostly engulfed in pollution, and the people too busy to pay attention to nature, this is a rarity.
IMG_3021 - CopyOur next stop was this “Couple Tree”  When I asked the driver which one was the male, he said, “the one with the extra wood!” I laughed.
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On to our tour of Alisan National Park! Originally the tour guide was going to get us to take a shuttle bus, but we all thought we were going to be taking the famous Alisan train. So after everyone voted for the train, we headed to the train station instead. The tour guide told us to buy a ticket for the sacred tree, as the ticket is much prettier than if we had bought one for the actual stop we were going to. Look at that steam engine!

No doubt, we were pretty disappointed when we found out we weren’t taking the steam engine train. It only runs in certain months, when it’s high season. All well…

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Look at the crazy amount of tourists! And if you were wondering, yes they are pretty much all Mainland China people.
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Here’s a picture I took while we were on the train.
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Walking amongst these trees are what we call “Forest bath” (森林浴) to be bathed in nature. Then I got really annoyed, because tourists were smoking, they were chichatting non-stop, and I couldn’t enjoy nature as much as I would have liked.
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This is one of the oldest sacred trees in the park. I believe it’s 1800 or 1700 years old.
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Here taking a picture from the distance, because I didn’t feel like being squished by tourists is the “Cherry Blossom King” of the park. My friend and I chuckled, because we have bigger cherry blossoms than that on our residential streets back in Canada. But again, you have to think in the mindset of Taiwanese people. Trees are rare, cherry blossoms, that don’t do well in the subtropical temperatures of Taiwan , pretty much only exists on top of mountains.
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Here a tile mural of the famous scenes of Alisan. The steam train, the cherry blossom, the sun rise, the sacred trees…All of it was great, minus the loud disrespectful tourists. 20130311_112130After the tour of the park, we were dropped off at Fenchihu to explore on our own. It’s a tiny tiny area where little eateries and shops selling trinkets are set up through out the streets. It also contains one of the old train stations, that has since stopped running. Suppose they are renovating the train stations so that eventually trains can be connected to the Alisan trains, and people can just ride the train upwards to Alisan, instead of taking the ghetto shuttle bus. That was actually my original plan, until I found out they shut down the trains because of the renos.

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Here’s the lunch box that was included in our touring price.
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A display of the old trains.
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At at the end of the day, we were dropped off by the high speed train station in Chayi. Our next stop: Kenting.

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1 Comment

Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Epic Travel, Out of the house

 

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One response to “[Epic Travel] – Chayi, Taiwan

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