Alishan (阿里山), located in the central Taiwan, is one of the most well-known
mountain resorts in Taiwan and among the neighboring Asian countries. Alishan is
famed for its 5 wonders: sunrise, sunset, cloud sea, various forest facets, and
mountain train. Alishan mountain range is one of the five mountain ranges in
Taiwan, and is composed of 18 peaks above 2,000 meters. What most people mean
when they say they are going to "Alishan," they are referring to the tourist
village inside the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, which has a total of 1400
hectares embracing high mountain peaks and rich cultural and natural resources.
Getting there ...
Our bus departed from Taipei at around 8:30AM, and got to Taichung to pick up
my uncle and we had a quick lunch at around 11:00AM. Similar to our last trip to Central Taiwan 2 years ago, my uncle
(who was retired from Forestry Bureau) arranged this entire trip for us. After
lunch, we rode the bus to Fen Chi Hu (奮起湖) and switch to the famous Alishan
mountain train. We had a walk around the "Old Street" in Fen Chi Hu before our
train arrived at 3:45PM. From Fen Chi Hu (elevation 1405m), the train climbs
using different ways: 3 times of switch back rides and one time of "8" ride at
Tuli Shan, and the "Z" ride at the split railway.
The Second Day ...
- Jhushan (祝山)
The Alishan experience will not be complete without going to see the
sunrise at Jhushan. There were 3 cars/vans taking us to a viewing platform,
which was far away from the train station where most visitors were gathering
for sunrise on Jhushan, and we had the entire top of the mountain to
ourselves. The most incredible view was the cloud formation that it was like
a waterfall flowing over a cliff. Thirty minutes after sunrise, the clouds
have risen and covered the places around us.
We got off our cars on the half way down from Jhushan and started the
easy walk downhills. We visited the Guest House which was late president
Chiang Kai-Shek's villa when he visited Alishan.
- Tefuyeh Trail (特富野登山古道)
After a nice breakfast at the Alishan Hotel Annex, we headed to the
Tefuyeh Trail, which follows an old railroad track winding through dense
forests. It is an easy, shady, and leveled hike, and all of us enjoyed the
walk and fresh forest smell.
- Giant Trees Trail (巨木棧道)
After a lunch break, we all started the hike on the Giant Trees Trail in
the Alishan Forest Recreation Area. We passed by a few traditional Alishan
landmarks: Elephant Trunk (象鼻樹), Three Generation Tree (三代木),
Pagoda of Tree Spirit (樹靈塔),
Guangwu Cypress (光武檜), Shoujen
Temple (受鎮宮), and the most famous Alishan Sacred Tree (神木) which was hit by
lightning in 1956, and was fallen and put to rest in 1997. There are about
20 giant trees along the trail and each one is numbered with its age,
height, perimeter, etc., and all the kids were busy in remembering those
We did not have a chance to really enjoy the sunset time at Alishan. All
I had was a moment of glance of sunset on our way walk to the Alishan Hotel
Annex for dinner.
The Last Day ...
- Jhushan (祝山)
I decided to take the train to Jhushan for another sunrise. The
experience was very different from the day before: it was so crowded that I
almost could not find a spot for myself!! There were 2 trains departed in
the morning (I caught the 2nd one at 4:30AM), and each train had 8 cars with
~ 50-60 people in each car. This brought ~ 1000 people to Jhushan and almost
all were jammed at the viewing platforms around the train station. It was
the busiest morning I've ever had to start a day.
- Tatajia (塔塔加)
We left Alishan after having a breakfast at around 9:30AM. We entered
Yushan (玉山) National Park and stopped at Tatajia visitor center since Linus
has threw up twice in the bus because of the winding road. Tataja is the
trailhead to climb Yushan, and it has a nice view for a few high mountains.
We went back to the bus after a short break and started to descend via New
Central Cross-Island Road (新中橫) back to Nantou. The ride was quite bumpy
sometimes because the road has been washed out from previous storms and
there were some temporary passages over the river beds.
Going Home ...
After came back from the mountains, we went to visit a few
relatives in Nantou because it is my parents'
home town, and stayed there till 5PM. Since we had too much snack in the
afternoon, we decided to skip a formal dinner and had a casual one at a resting
area along the highway on our way back to Taipei. With the temperature ranging
from 15 to 25 degree C, Alishan is a nice place to escape the extreme summer
heat and humidity from Taipei.
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