Sunday, June 30, 2024

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

Detailed Postings for the Day
The day had yet to break but our entire tour group was already congregating at the reception of Alishan Gou Hotel; many with with half-opened eyes and tired expression. It didn't help with the morning drizzle dampening our mood. 

Awaiting the old school forest train that would bring us to a higher elevation. Purpose for this early morning activity; to catch the sunrise which would have a better chance of being spectacular without the rain! 

With the rain, humidity would be much higher, giving rise to mist, fog and more clouds and as evidenced by the above photograph taken at Zhushan Sunrise Observation Deck; visibility was low and we can't see shit! 

We climbed up for about eight minutes to the Xiaoliyuanshan Lookout, hoping that visibility would improve and eventually concluded that luck wasn't on our side. Maybe the issue was me as I had undertaken a few sunrise tours when I am overseas, and had never succeeded.

Whatever the case, it was still mentally refreshing to be up so early, and being infused with the negative ions from nature. Breathing in the crisp, cool air is so therapeutic for the tired soul. Please read here for the post on the Sunrise & the Train from Chaoping to Zhushan Station

Dad with the picture of the forest train at Zhushan station.

Reached back at Chaoping Station as the forest train continued its way to the main Alishan station, where most accommodations were located.

Picture of dad again with the wooden platform signage of Zhushan station.

How near was Chaoping Station to Alishan Gou Hotel? You can roughly gauge from the above photograph; building with red tiled roof would be Alishan Gou Hotel.

Many people have the false impression that the train tracks were disused, especially for Singaporeans as we are not accustomed to tracks that are not secured with fencing. Thankfully, the trains were loud and you would likely hear them before you get hit.

View of Chaoping station from Alishan Gou Hotel.

After a simple breakfast buffet that endeavored to just fill up your stomach and not impress your taste buds, it's time to say goodbye to Alishan Gou Hotel. Location is a double-edged sword for this hotel; super near to nature and walking trails yet far from the modern amenities. 

Taking the hotel's shuttle back to the main "town" of Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, where our regular, large coach was waiting to bring us down the mountain! 

The rain continued to pelt as our experienced coach driver navigated around the curves and turns of the mountain road, bypassing tea plantations would have made for nice backdrops for photography if the weather was nicer.

Arrival at Fengqihu Railway Town

Obviously, we had to check out the railway station, albeit in the rain. There were quite a few walking trails which were impossible to check out in the rain and with the short time we had. I have plans to stay one night at this town in January next year; hopefully I would have the chance to explore more, and share in this blog.

Time was better spent exploring the Fengqihu Old Street and indulge in delicacies like the hot aiyu drink, 街仔尾阿嬤草仔粿interesting donuts from 百年檜木甜甜圈 and the signature railway bento

While driving along the highways in Taiwan, you would realize there were many rivers that appeared to be dry and you wonder why the government spent so much money building bridges that were so high up. It turned out that when they played an important role of reducing flooding during rainy and typhoon seasons! 

Wait, this looked familiar. We were back at the main carpark of Tsou Veoveoana Cultural and Creative Park; which served as a stopover for a short toilet break before we made our way to Sun Moon Lake.

Enjoying the mountainous views. 

Compulsory shopping stop for tea, with an activity to experience tea leaves picking at this place called 台埔茶葉竹山店. Since this was part of our tour package, we just had to go with the flow. Turned out it wasn't as bad and the uncle in charge managed to persuade me to part with a few hundred dollars! Click here for more details! 

Sights along the highway. 

We noticed a lot of plantations with the above trees, which had tall, straight trunks and looked somewhat like coconuts but leafier. A clarification with KK, our tour guide, and it was revealed that they were in fact betel nut trees! 

Next destination - Wenwu Temple (日月潭文武廟)! The must-visit for every traveller to Sun Moon Lake, I am the rare few who have been to the lake yet never set foot to this impressive temple. Now to address my regret on my second visit to Sun Moon Lake! 

Year of Steps - a staircase that used to necessary for any devotees who wanted to visit the Wenwu Temple. It's no longer used for that purpose once the roads were built although efforts were made to revitalize its usage with the 366 steps, each signifying a day in the gregorian calendar. 

Enjoying the views of the lake. 

Trails, attractions, bikeway surrounding the temple. Back in my trip in 2014, I recalled biking was one way to explore the lake but we didn't have sufficient time as a large part of it was spent at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村).

A beautiful Chinese pine tree was planted next to the Sun Moon Lake signage and I can imagine my tourists would be holding to the branches for photo-taking. I do read Chinese and the notice hung on the branches mentioned that the tree was sprayed with insecticide and warned against touching! 

Another place I had yet to visit at Sun Moon Lake; Ci'en Pagoda! Built in 1917 by President Chiang Kai Shek in honor of his mother, it was said to have the perfect view of Sun Moon Lake once you reach the top of the 46-meter high pagoda. 

A high-density cluster at the side of the lake; this would be one of the towns surrounding the lake, Ita Thao! I stayed there in 2014 and coincidentally, our accomodation on day four was also scheduled there! The tallest building was the 15-floor Wyndham Sun Moon Lake hotel that started operations in 2023.

Captivated by the colorful flowers as we walked towards the coach bay. 

Let's satisfy dinner first and we shall be having an interesting dish that was roasted in the urns as above, and the natural fuel used was longan wood, which were piled up right in front of the restaurant! Read more about our dinner here

Dog lovers would be happy to know that there was a resident dog in the eatery! It was tame and kept to one corner unless some enthusiastic diners come over to fawn over it. 

Checking in to our hotel for the night; Einhan Resort (日月潭映涵渡假飯店)! Smacked in the centre of Ita Thao Shopping District, we were more excited to quickly check in so that we can have more time for shopping! 

Come, let's go! Click here for more pictures.

Ending the night with Taiwan Beer again!