Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Amazonian Jewels Zone @ Bird Paradise Mandai in Singapore

Given the lack of money and the fact that I am not into travelling long distance, I doubt I would ever explore Amazon in my life. The most I can do is to visit the Amazon Flooded Forest at River Wonders in SingaporeAmazon Flooded Forest at River Wonders in Singapore

Or check out the Amazonian Jewels Zone @ Bird Paradise Mandai! 

The mammoth thing that greeted us when we entered the zone was the above, which I am guessing to be a replica of a bottom half of a broken gigantic tree. Fact: the tallest tree in the Amazon rainforest is 88.5 meters tall.

This replica was hardly helpful as a shelter from the hot sun!

Let's do some bird watching instead. As the world's largest tropical rainforest, my expectation was high as it was said to have over 1,300 species.

Maybe my eyes were tired as I spotted only two! The South American pileated parrot and the Capuchinbird, latter looked like it would fit well as a prop during Halloween. 

Due to the simmering heat close to noon, we proceeded to the air-conditioned arena that separated the zones. Cooling aside, the somewhat interactive screen allowed us to touch a button to hear the call of the respective bird species

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Location
Amazonian Jewels Zone,

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Day Three of The 8 Days 7 Nights See Iconic Taiwan Anew Tour Package via Chan Brothers


Detailed Postings for the Day

Boarding our double-floor coach bus after the buffet breakfast at Freshfields Hotel. Red in color, my mom would have loved the license plate number; which has two eights in it.

View of our seating area on the coach; although it's double floor, the seats are all on the second floor. As a kid, I love double-decker bus due to its vantage view, and that's no exception for this double-floor coach too that was our primary mode of transport throughout the eight-day Taiwan tour.

One of the disadvantages for tour packages is that meals are always provided and that gave me less opportunities to check out local eateries! Like this pretty popular stall selling scallion oil pancake; a common breakfast fare in Taiwan.

Not a full coach means both my dad and I can sit at window seats, where we can soak in the sights as the coach cruises along the road, towards our next destination!  

Loving the sights of greenery and mountains! Today, we would be going up to Alishan, which is a mountain range consisting of 18 mountains that averages about 2,000 meters in altitude, slightly taller than Genting Highlands.


Can't miss the opportunity to take a photo of dad with the spectacular backdrop of the mountain range behind him! He loves the mountains so much; I bet he was part of the indigenous tribes in his previous life. 

Please click here to read more about the Tsou Veoveoana Cultural and Creative Park, where we caught a performance, had fun feeding the polite sika deer, bought local souvenirs and had lunch in the resident restaurant

What I remember most was Minced Garlic, the domesticated wild boar at Tsou Veoveoana Cultural and Creative Park. Adorable was an understatement! 

Abandoned building found - in Singapore, it used to be one of the favorite past times of teenagers to explore derelict buildings. I used to enjoy it so much; mainly the excitement peppered with the possibility of encountering some paranormal activities.

Hsin Hsin Cement Forest Living Park, where you can visit a cement factory, learn about the story of Taiwan cement and its production processes, and even DIY your own cement pot!

With such rock formation, I guess it would be good training for those into rock climbing! In Singapore, it's a popular activity although our training grounds are not at such natural setting.

Fanlu Township that cut across the Bazhang River and the bridge you see on the left was the Dijiu Suspension Bridge. Built by the Japanese in 1937, the name actually means forever although it's more the forever that comes with love. 

Photographs taken while we traversed up the mountain!

Many tea plantations along the way, and rightfully so as Alishan was renowned for its highland tea. In many bubble tea shops, which originated from Taiwan, you can commonly find Alishan tea as one of the options. 

See those fields of tall, coconut-like trees? I was wondering what they were since there were so many such plantations I saw along the way. Turned out they were betel nut trees! One surprising fact - betel nut is known to be mild narcotic but it's not illegal in strict-as-ass Singapore! 

Fugu'e Bridge (芙谷峩橋) -  a single arch bridge that opened in 2013 and its name was a Tsou tribe expression that meant "hills and fields of Taiwanese hibiscus trees." It was said that the bridge was a great place to check out the stars in the sky! 

This shop was saved on my maps after it was featured in a Taiwanese food variety show! So near yet so far and even though I am making my way back to Alishan next year, it would still elude me as the shop wasn't convenient unless we decide to self-drive.

Road maintenance, resulting in just one lane that's opened! Nevertheless, there was a personnel in charge of directing the traffic. Very important role to prevent accidents! 

Blossoming trees! 

Arrival at Alishan National Forest - Entrance Ticket Office; almost 90 minutes from Tsou Veoveoana Cultural and Creative Park! Anyway, that's Alishan Transport Station on the right; as some of the words were hidden, I thought it was MRT station, which would have made travelling to Alishan to much more convenient. 

Our coach would have to stop here as it's too large to drive up to the narrower mountain road leading up to our hotel that night. We were already informed about this and had been advised to pack a smaller bag so that we didn't have to lug our larger pieces of luggage.

We are obedient Singaporeans. 
One blue bag to contain our "essentials".

The hotel sent a mini shuttle to pick us up from the main "town" of Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, which had a lot of eateries and shops, and even hotels. 

Journey to our hotel wasn't that long but it's still about a 25-minute walk away. There's also a train station, called Alishan, where we can take the train to Zhaoping station, near Alishan Gou Hotel (阿里山閣大飯店), where we shall stay a night. 

After checking in to our hotel, it's time for some Forest Bathing @ Alishan! Aside from the towering trees, we also visited the sisters ponds, the sacred tree, three-generation tree, the thousand year old cypress, pagoda of the tree spirit etc. 

Last stop - taking the iconic forest train from Shenmu Station back to Alishan Station at the main town! Another thing you would spot at this station would be the former sacred tree, which had to be felled due to safety reason. 

Back at Alishan Station - do note the timings for the train schedule, including the one towards Zhushan Station; said to have the best place to catch the sunrise and the sea of clouds at Alishan. 

Forest maps and trails for reference.

Notice something strange about this scooter? There were these covers at the handles, which help to protect the hands from getting too cold! Neat right?!

View of the mountain range from the station.

There's a 7-11 convenience store at the town, which was easily the most popular store as there were so many familiar stuff you can get from inside, and they wouldn't cost you a bomb!

I got a can of Taiwan beer! 

A few other photographs around the town; I wish I had more time to check out the temple and the surroundings but we were supposed to congregate in about twenty minutes to take the hotel shuttle. 

It's okay; I told my dad we would take the shuttle back again after our dinner @ Alishan Gou Hotel. Only thing is that the sun would have set by then although it's still better than wasting time in the hotel, and I doubt we would want to explore the forest at night! 

And here we are, back again at 7.10 pm!

Sad part was that more than half of the stores had closed or were in the midst of closing for the day! That's incredibly devastating for me as I was looking forward for some shopping.

A few eateries were still operating for dinner but we already had dinner. :( Anyway, this 山芝鄉風味館 seemed quite popular and had a 4.3 review rating score on google from over 1,000 reviewers. I should consider this next year!

Fascinating to have marine creatures so high up in the mountain. 

I was thankful for the above stores which had yet to close! As mentioned previously, Alishan tea was famous and there were a number of tea shops that had so many varieties of tea for you to sample! 

My eyes were drawn to the above shop though; which had interesting products like Taiwanese wasabi crackers, wasabi power, sakura honey etc. p.s. sampling was allowed for some products.

Got a hot cup of dark sugar ginger tea, at 50 Taiwan dollars, for my dad, to warm his body! While it wasn't freaky cold, I did realize that my dad doesn't seem to endure low temperature that well now that he is older. 

I warmed my body the middle-aged person way; enjoying my can of Taiwan beer from the balcony of my room at Alishan Gou Hotel

Before ending the night, I found out something that was quite hilarious in my opinion. The toilet bowl was branded Alex, and I couldn't hesitate sending it to a few friends who are common friends with my regular travel companion and housemate, Alex!