Monday, June 17, 2024

Fengqihu Railway Town & The Old Street @ Chiayi County in Taiwan

I love exploring old streets and for the recent trip I made to Taiwan, via the tour package by Chan Brothers, we were brought to Fengqihu, a railway town along the Alishan Forest Railway, that had an old street known to be at the highest elevation in Taiwan! 

Our coach stopped next to this Deep Forest Inn given the carpark for coaches but it was raining quite heavily, and unlike Singapore, sheltered walkways are not common.

Distance of 190 meters to the old street didn't appear that far although it can be challenging in the rain, especially when the terrain was unknown and my dad is in his 70s! 

Pretty steep slope down! 

KK, our tour guide, was in the lead for obvious reasons and she kept asking us to be careful! So what lessons to learn from this? Wear shoes with good grip, bring along a umbrella and if you could, prepare a few raincoats! 

Stray dogs hiding from the rain. 

The walk continued past this wet canopy of plants that was bearing guava looking fruits. Some leaves were dried and I am guess it would be much prettier in spring with flowers.  

Is this brinjal?

View next to us, although my purpose was to show the massive cobwebs which you can roughly make out from the phone. Those white lines, which may seem like power lines above the trees, were the cobwebs. 

Start of the old street, from the classic looking Fenchihu Hotel, which housed the restaurant where I had my first railway bento later. It's also designated as the gathering point for our tour an hour later as it's now free and easy time! 

Grateful for my Mandarin classes in school (basic grasp of Chinese characters), and interest in Taiwan comic books (traditional Chinese writing) as I had no issue knowing this was the entry for an inn. 

Those with no knowledge might assume it's the direction towards a cafe, given the wall murals. I am now reviewing the photograph taken since I would be returning to Fengqihu next year, and am now sourcing for suitable accommodations.

Could you see the raindrops?! Quite irritating to encounter rain when travelling. Given the choice between sun and rain, I would choose the former anytime. 

Railway restaurant; located just next to the railway station, this was said to be the originator for the railway bento although this was contentious. To me, originator or not, the taste would be the paramount determinant. 

Functional railway platform. 

Nothing spectacular except for the natural picturesque backdrop that was further beautified by the weather, with mist floating through the forests. Hopefully my next visit would see better weather.

Cute shiba inu, walking in the rain!

Remember my mention that Fengqihu Old Street is known to the old street on the highest elevation in Taiwan? Elevation at 1,403 meters, which wasn't very high in my opinion.

Going back to where we came from.

Down the steep, slippery steps on a narrow passage, which wasn't crowded thanks to the rain. However, the entrance for our next destination was this wooden doorway in the middle. The two Chinese characters said it all. 

They meant "old street", which kind of confused me as I thought where we had walked so far was all part of the old street?! Oh was this just a marketing gimmick for photo taking among tourists?

First shop right at the entrance stopped me in my tracks. From the wallpaper, I noted this was a local food souvenir shop and the promotion was 1 pack for 180 Taiwan dollars, 3 packs for 500 Taiwan dollars and if you buy 6 packs, you get 1 pack free! 

Selling dehydrated fruits and vegetables, which are healthier compared to your conventional chips, I stepped in for a closer look. Of course, there's one very important factor before I would even consider buying any snacks when overseas.

Sampling, which was provided for all their products! The lady boss was so friendly and kept stuffing me with samples! Of course I had to buy 6 packs for 1,000 Taiwan dollar (about S$41) and with that 1 free pack, each one was only about S$6! 

Maybe due to rain, and that it was a weekday, the old street was quite empty even though it was fully sheltered. Some shops were also not opened; I am wondering if they only open on weekends when even local tourists would take advantage of the weekends to ride on the Alishan Forest Railway.

Do you know what are those furry looking stuff in the plastic bags? Honestly, I wouldn't blame you for assuming there were dead hedgehogs for sale! 

Those stuff, known as aiyu seeds, are the basic ingredient for aiyu jelly! Although you can find them in places like Singapore, Taiwan is where the jelly is from! To make the jelly, you have to place the seeds "in a cotton cloth bag", "submerged in cold water" and then rubbed to extract a slimy gel! 

Served cold in many places, the real aiyu jelly can actually be served hot and given the cold weather, I bought a cup with added ginger for 60 Taiwan dollars. So nice and comforting for the body! 

The shelter path was only for about 60 meters. 
Getting ready our umbrellas again. 

Rice mochis for sale; from the pricing, it was said to be one box for 20 Taiwan dollars which I thought was impossible given that it's less than S$1 for about 20?! Maybe it was a box for smaller capacity. I didn't enquire further as I don't really fancy mochi.

My head was instead drawn to the stall right opposite. 

A super cute, dressed, ginger cat helming the fort! I didn't even see the stall owner but it's not hard to see that customers were drawn to the shop. Such scenes are not commonly seen in Singapore given our strictness on food hygiene.

Open street again! 

Another place with railway bento for sale, and this shop was said to originate from the 1960s. Wait, was that the same shiba inu we saw earlier near the railway tracks?

Dad marvelling at the pretty purple flowers.
Okay, I took the photo at the wrong timing.

A mini-stage for events, I guess.

Shop selling handmade soaps, essential oils, perfume etc. There's even a sink outside where you can wash your hands using their soap! 

If not for the fact that I had an agenda in mind, I wouldn't have assumed there's nothing beyond this slope ahead of us. That's why some simple research is required before every trip! 

Relentless rain! 

First item on the agenda - I wanted to try the 草仔粿 from this stall; bearing a texture similar to ang ku kueh, this snack came with fillings that were savory as well. Worth a try!

I don't like to read when there are too many Chinese characters as sometimes the sentences are not as straightforward. The above was quite easy as it was an adoption notice for cats! 

So glad that my elder sister got a pair of new shoes for my dad! Knowing his thrifty personality, he would have worn his older shoes and this would have increased his risk of slipping down the slope! 

Second item on the agenda - trying these unforgettably delicious donuts by 百年檜木甜甜圈. There were many stalls selling the same kind of donuts but do ignore them. The original stall is this one and you can refer to my link here for the actual location.

We were just 70 meters from the Taiwan Incense Cedar but we had to give it a miss as it's about time for us to meet up with the rest of our tour mates for lunch.

On our way back to the sheltered part of the old street. The old street was said to be 500 meters long but it's hard to ascertain given the corners, alleys, side streets etc. 

Going down the narrow passage again. Some people who had been to Fengqihu mentioned it's like a smaller scale Jiufen Old Street but I beg to differ as it's really just this passage. Jiufen is prettier, and a lot more touristy! 

My first railway bento! I enjoyed it, except the not so well cooked cabbages. In my upcoming trip in January 2025, my aim shall be to try railway bentos for all my meals at Fengqihu! 

Sharing my box of donuts from 百年檜木甜甜圈 with the rest of my tour mates! Sadly, they weren't as keen as it's either before lunch or they were too full after lunch. Pity for them as these donuts were not the kind you can find in Singapore.

Century eggs, which can be an acquired taste for those who have never tried it! For me, I love having century eggs and in my next trip, I shall buy one and have it with my railway bento. 

Time to leave! 

Making our way back to the parking bay for coaches; the rain was no longer as heavy, making the walk a lot more nicer, especially given my heavy backpack and bags of food souvenirs. 

Taking a photo of dad with the canopy we chanced upon on our way in. 
Given the dead leaves, I admit it wasn't a great photo. 

The same dogs we saw earlier!
Friendly despite their size! 


Zhuqi Township, 
Chiayi County, 
604, Taiwan

As above. 

Directory for Fengqihu
As above. 

No comments:

Post a Comment