Rain Makes it Better : Alishan, Aged Trees with Vines and Moss
Unplanned as usual, packing all out luggage from the 5floorfun Backpacker Hostel in Chiayi City. They said the tayphoon would make this trip dissapointing. But the housekeeper still informed the transportation and the proper time to get there. A girl from Hong Kong was having Working Holiday in the hostel was planning to go with us, but she declined due to the fear of the typhoon.
Picture taken by Camila Sáenz
However, we still woke up in the morning and got our favorite Taiwanese breakfast. The bus next to Chiayi Train Station took us up at 1 pm.
Got there at 3 pm, a lovely lady came up to us and gave us proper information. She told us to get the last train at 3;30 to get to the hiking trail.
With tensity, we put our luggage in the hostel as soon as possible and borrowed coats. It was only 18 degree!
Out of the suprise, we got to Zhaoping Station within 5 mins (We thought it could be 15 mins or more!). The railway station had the smell of Cypress woods. It was colder, Camila said only us would be so dumb to wear short pants. Well, imagin if it's winter! (It had the record that it snowed here in winter before).
Picture taken by Kathy Palma
Drizzling, we knew it's gonna happened so we brought some umbrellas and raincoats. It was not the boom season ( Winter or March, winter has less rain and March is the season of cheery blossoms.), I like it better this way, we don't like crowded throng. We prefer having no pressure with our camera in hand, gazing the distant clouds on the other side of the mountain.
We were luckily not to see the Chinese tourist groups all around the mountain. Without them taking selfie for Facebook profile picture was such a bless.
Walking into the wild was a bad choice for those who like making clamour, it is about to try living in the moment. Silence was the only thing we could ask for, however, trashing everywhere was a problem too.
There was an abandoned railway trail, along the way there had stairs made up with stone. The air was so clean after the drizzling. Tall trees confronted us, we heard the sound of the nature. The trees were tallk enough to block the sky. The trees were overgrown with vines and moss. Suddenly, I feel extremely small standing in the middle of the forest.
Unfortunately, during back to Japanese colonial era, they found out this area and hacked a huge amount of cypress. And now...only few of them are left. However, they built the wooden forest railway, even now some traveller decided to catch the train from Chaiyi to Alishan.
Picture taken by Camila Sáenz
Kathy told us the story of the Sisters' Bonds, "It was a sad love story, two sisters both f ell in love with a man, they were in a dilemma. However, they made up the conclusion - they did not want to destroy their sisterhood with each other, they ended up commiting suicide in the seperate lakes so that they won't have any problems anymore."
Surrounded by picturesque natural sceneries, Kathy told us to go to another trail with wooden stairs, I was hesitated asking "are you sure this is the way?",I shouldn't. We got to the another side so that we could clearly see the whole lake with the bower upon. The lake was like a mirror that reflected the sceneries.
We left the Sisters' Bonds, there were some old ladies came up to us, asking for some pictures of them. " I am already retired, 62 years old." one of the ladies said. Camila told me that in Guatemala (her country), the old people when they got to 60, the only thing they would do is to stay at home,.On the contrary, she was so fasinated by the eldery culture in Taiwan. I remembered, my grandparents used to take us to mountain climbing or hotsprings almost every weekends before my grandma passed away, they loved nature, hiking even no matter when.
Picture taken by Camila Sáenz
After few mins of walk, we had the best experiences ever! This area was full of tall and slender trees. They were tall enough to reach the sky, it was in the afternoon but the light was blocked. Kathy said " It feels like having dreams." Hell yeah, couldn't agree more! Drizzling again, but the sound of the raindrops became the echo between each trees. ENJOYMENT. The smells of the rain, woods with the mud. Perfect.
Well, we saw an elementary school, it was empty because of the summer break. Without suprise, this is the highest school.
Elevation : 2195 M
Imagin studying here everyday! Paradise! Kids must be so healthy!
Alishan has two areas with aged trees. We only went one because it was almost 6 pm, the higher we got, the more fog we had, the more narrow the eyesight we had. Most of the aged trees were almost about 1000 ~3000 years old! We can never underestimate the might of the earth.
Slowly strolled around, we found a temple in the middle of nowhere - Ciyun Temple. It was one of the highest temples in Taiwan. Built in 1919 by the Japaness. With silence, we saw people praying in front of the Buddist statues, we smelled the vegetarian food from the kitchen. Slender trees clamber inside the small garden.
Kathy and Camila were afraid if it was getting darker soon, so we walked back down the trail and after 20 mins of walk, we came down from the mountain back to where we took the train.
Kathy told us " I never thought that Taiwan has this kind of place, I didn't know it until a girl sitting next to me on the plane told me about it. I cannot believe we were just there." (Kathy came from Guatemala to visit)
We had fried boar and fried mashroom for dinner! These two traditional aborighinal cuisine really pleased my two foreign friends.
Alishan was famous for its sunrise. The next day, we woke up at 4 am, taking a small tour bus go all the way up to the mountain. Yet, it was drizzling, the tour guide warned that the chance to see the sunrise is limited due to the big clouds. It was freezing, too!
However, we did witness what we wanted to see....
How did we get to Alishan?
From Chiayi Train Station to Alishan Forest Recreation Area :
Take train to Chiayi Train Station and take Chiayi Bus (Alishan route) to the Alishan Forest Recreation Area.
(It takes about 2.5 hours from the Train station to get to Alishan. Chiayi Bus runs at the following times: 06:10 08:10 10:10 12:10 14:10. )