Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Taiwan - Day 2 (18 Jul 07)

Woke up around 7am to find the Fenchihu train station. Surprisingly, it's just round the corner, up a flight of stone steps and we are there. Bought the 11am plus round trip ticket to Alishan. The last train will leave Alishan at about 2pm leaving us only 1 hour to explore Alishan National Forest Recreation Area (minus 1 hour train ride). We decided to go ahead and see how best we can do within 1 hour.

Since it's still early, we joined the hotel free tour at 8.30am. Our tour guide look like the singer wu bai especially with his sunglass. We went round the train station, the forest and back to the hotel within an hour. Most of the trees were brought in by the Japanese during the WWII. We also saw the rare and unique square bamboo.

Finally our train to Alishan has arrived and the ticket counter staff double up as the train station captain announcing the arrival of the train. We had to quickly grab any seats available because we didn't reserve our tickets which are available 2 months ahead of the boarding time. So in the event that all seats are reserved for that ride, we will have to stand all the way unless someone gets off midway. Taiwan is having summer holiday beginning July to August and this is a good place to get away from the heat.

While waiting for the train to depart, someone came onboard selling bento or lunch boxes and local kuehs.

Sadly, there has been a landslide couple of weeks ago and portion of the Alishan railway track was damaged and thus closed. We had to alight at shi zi station and transfer by bus to Alishan National Forest Area. We had to walk down a flight of stone steps to the road where the bus is waiting and a aunty was complianing that she wouldn't have come if she had known. Probably she was pissed because she had to carry her luggage down the steps.

Since we have limited time, we chose the shortest and easiest path to explore Alishan forest area. The air is fresh and the weather cooling. I was expecting to be welcomed by the aboriginal or rather people dressed in traditional costumes singing and dancing to their Alishan tribal tune but nope, I see none. Now the best time to visit Alishan is in May where cherry blossom will be blooming and more fireflies can be seen.

3 cute black puppies came over to lick our legs and the mother which is not black came too. She was friendly at first but suddenly started to bite at James's shoelace, trousers and his butt! hahaha.... definitely a bitch! After the forest rail, we bought a bottle of local washabi and headed back to the hotel at Fenchihu. We are ready for our railway lunch box. Since our complimentary dinner is worth NT$250 each, the nice lady recommended that we a wooden lunch box worth NT$250, a stainless steel lunch box worth NT$200 and a choice of wooden chopstick & spoon or a bag with printing for the hotel; both worth NT $50. We chose the wooden chopstick and spoon set. It was yummy, delicious, unforgetable, must try!

After the lunch, we went back to our room for a rest before heading to lao jie which is just down the road to check out the local delights. Before we left, the reception delivered our dinner voucher for tonight and the dinner will be waiting for us at 7.30pm.

Bought some goodies and some expensive tea leaves.

Dinner. There were only 2 table full of people having dinner at the spacious restaurant downstairs. We spotted a card with our room number on a table. At the corner of the card, it indicates 2 person. Rice is free flow but we will be given a special bamboo rice each. We thought it would be a few simple dishes but to our horror, huge portion of different dishes keep coming and we almost died stuffing ourselves trying to finish them all.

We failed to finish all the food and we were also rushing to join the 8pm tour by the hotel. The tour was suppose to start but a few aunties decided to change into their track shoe after hearing that we will be heading into the forest to watch the fireflies. Took them forever to come back and the tour guide i.e. wu bai again decided to move on. It was almost pitch dark and lucky we bought our torchlight. We walked along the railway track and stopped after about 5 minutes. We have to turn off our torchlight and observe. There weren't many around but it's good enough. Now I can say I've watched fireflies.

Back to those aunties or rather ah soh. They managed to catch up and squeezed to the front when we were walking on the railway track. There was a section where we over take them and went infront because they were more engross in talking about themselves than about the fireflies. One ah soh even said that she is not interested to watch. Than the tour guide found a fallen firefly under a stone and was carefully flipping the stone to show us. This aunty suddenly flew pass me squeezing her way to see it. Bear in mind, we were on the railway track cover with small broken stones in the middle of the night.

While everyone was enjoying the peace and quiet looking at tiny shinning blinking spots flying around in the forest.... ah soh break the silence and say there is nothing to see and she wants to head back. Initially wu bai told them to head back first but later made us all go back as well. I guess he must be worried that he will be held responisble if anything were to happen to us. We might fell down the mountain or step into the drain that cuts across the track.

So, back to our room and we took the herbal bath before heading to bed. We have to wake up at 3am tomorrow to watch the sunrise at da dong shan.

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