Vietnam

Vietnam
Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei

Sarawak

Sarawak
Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park

Beijing

Beijing
A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Chia Yi / Ali Shan

Day Three

Woke up very early to check-out the hotel. We arrived at TaiChung train station at 7 am and bought train tickets at cost of NT$174 per pax. The train: 营光号11 departed from TaiChung (台中) station at 0755 hrs and arrived at ChiaYi (嘉义) station at 0928 hrs. Not trying to be so ‘kiasu’ as the next available train: 自強号1003 would only depart at 0910 hrs and arrived at 1027 hrs, which would not give us much time to explore ChiaYi.



Personal Experience: Breakfast such as bread and drinks can be bought inside the train station. Even convenient store like 7-11 is selling steaming-hot buns inside their store!

Bought AliShan forest train tickets at NT $399 per pax immediately upon arrival at ChiaYi station. Was told by the tourist information centre that only a limited number of these train tickets can be purchased from Chia Yi train station daily. Do note that only one of this forest train departs from Chia Yi station per day at 1330hrs on weekdays (think there is another 9 am train on weekends).

After gotten the train tickets, we walked towards the left side of ChiaYi train station to deposit our luggage. The deposit fee cost only NT$17 per piece for a day. Definitely useful for visitors who wanted to explore the city without having to carry their bulky luggage along.



Decided to walk to the shopping area located 10 to 15-mins walk away from the train station. Managed to buy a magazine from the book store at this 'FE21' shopping mall and visited some interesting toy shops along the route.



Had lunch at this Taiwan Cooking Specialty (台湾鲁肉饭) located opposite the train station. Ordered a bowl of seaweed soup, 'pig-skin' and soy-braised meat (鲁肉) with rice at a total cost of less than NT$100. Great taste and value worth!





Boarded the Alishan forest railway train at around 1325 hrs. The train ride was spectacular. It is one of the world’s 3 remaining mountaineering train starting from an altitude of 30-meters (ChiaYi station) to 2216 meters above sea level (AliShan station). The whole ride took about 3 hours 20 minutes and passed through 47 tunnels. At one part of the track, the train uses ‘Zigzag switchback’ to ‘climb-up’ the mountain. Check out more info here on this interesting railway system. No wonder this train ride had become one of the 5 attractions in AliShan, together with Sunrise, Sunset, Sea of Clouds and the Forest.






The train reached AliShan station at almost 1700 hrs. Upon arrival, each visitor had to pay a park admission of NT $150 per visitor (inclusive of insurance). Hotel stuff from Gau Shan Ching Hotel (高山青大饭店) was waiting outside the train station to give us a ride back to the hotel. Booked this hotel for NT $1600 per room per night including breakfast. Do not expect much from the amenities of this hotel; comfortable but small room, and the heater in the room could not provide enough heat to withstand the high altitude temperature (about 8 °C) during the night. However one plus point of this hotel is the location; it is just beside the main plaza where most shops and restaurants are located.

Personal Experience: Do make an advance online reservation of any AliShan hotel to avoid disappointment as the rooms could be fully booked during peak season.





Decided to have hot pot for dinner and the reason was to keep us warm from the cold temperature of 10°C. Went to this restaurant '玉山园餐厅' and ordered a set with four dishes and a hot pot for NT $1000. Simply fulfilling with the amount of food and its varieties. After dinner, we purchased some snacks and mineral water bottles from the shops at the main plaza for our next day’s sunrise trip. Didn’t find any souvenirs worth buying while shopping, except the 'high-mountain tea leaves' (高山茶) grown at AliShan area. Tea grown at high altitude tends to taste better than those grown at lower altitude.






Day Four

Made an arrangement a day before during hotel check-in for a tour to view sunrise. Paid NT $300 per pax for this tour. This was an alternative option provided by the hotel where the site to view sunrise will be from Mount Jade (玉山) instead of AliShan. The driver left the hotel at 0530 hrs via a mini-bus to the first spot to see 'couple trees'. These two cypress trees did not survive through a forest fire in 1963, but had turned into a monument to symbolize their eternal love.



After which, we were brought to part of a road to see the sunrise. Rather disappointed as the clouds turned into rain clouds soon after the first sunbeam. Weather was unpredictable, especially during this rainy period.





Next stop was to see a cypress tree (神木) of at least 2700 years old where its diameter can reach 6-meters. As it was raining quite heavy, we then proceeded back to hotel for breakfast. Simple breakfast of porridge and some pickles were served.



Forest trekking was next itinerary where the driver left the hotel at 0830 hrs and dropped us off somewhere near the AliShan hotel. The forest trail did look like those scenes from the movie 'Lord of the Rings'. Sights not to be missed are: the 2 sister’s pond (姐妹潭), ShouJhen temple (受镇宫), three-generation tree (三代木) and elephant tree (象鼻木). During the trek, there was this strange formation of the tree branches that resembles a ‘heart’ shape. For more info on itinerary planning, do check out this website here.







Walked back to the hotel at around 1030 hrs, packed our luggage and checked out from the hotel. Took the mini-bus arranged by the hotel at 1100 hrs for NT $400 per pax to go back to Chiayi train station. It is faster, cheaper and more flexible to travel by mini-bus than by train. Along the route, the driver stopped at Fen Chi Hu (奋起湖), a small village, for lunch. Went to this humble 'Ah Liang' eatery that sells traditional lunch boxes (便當 also known as bento). Could not remember the price of a lunch box but the taste was good. There was a shop that sells wooden signage besides this eatery.





After lunch, walked along the old streets of this small village, and managed to get some pineapple cakes and a box of hand-made 'Train-cakes' (火车饼) that tasted like moon-cakes.





There are nice places at Fen Chi Hu for photo-taking. One can walk or even lay down on the railway tracks as frequency of trains passing is very low, or simply visit the train workshop to have a photo taken.





The mini-bus reached ChiaYi station slightly before 1400 hrs and just in time to get train tickets: 自強号1022 departing at 1409 hrs for Taipei at NT $600. Arrived at Taipei at 1735 hrs and went straight to check-in the KDM hotel (凱統大飯店). This hotel is located next to ChungHsiao ShinSheng Metro station (忠孝新生站). Booked this hotel online and cost SGD $432 per room for 4 nights, inclusive of breakfast.




After a quick wash-up in the hotel room, we then took the Metro subway to XiMenDing (西門町) for dinner and shopping. Didn’t expect Taipei to be as cold as AliShan of having freezing temperature at 10°C. As usual, XiMenDing was bustling with many teenagers.

4 comments:

The Experimental Cook said...

Hi, I enjoyed reading your Alishan blog. May I know when ( which month ) this trip was made ? I am planning to go there from Hualien ( via Taipei ) before heading back to Taipei by HSR in December.

Was the GaoShanQing hotel near Alishan train station ? Were most of the sights within walking distance ?

Looking forward to your reply. Thanks!

July 12, 2009 at 1:06 AM
Daniel134 said...

Hi, thanks for reading my blog.

Went to Taiwan in early March 2007 which was during the rainy season. December should be less rainy and was told that's the best period to view sunrise at Alishan.

GaoShanQing hotel wasn't that far from Alishan train station; less than 5-mins drive and from the posted map in the blog the distance is about 500 meters (do click on photo to view bigger picture).

The Jade Mountain, Couple trees and the cypress tree are rather far from the hotel and will need transportation to reach there. The driver dropped us off at Alishan hotel (near Jhaoping train station) for forest trekking and the distance of this start point was actually about 1 km away from GaoShanQing hotel. We took about 1 ½ hours to explore those attractions mentioned in the blog and took another ½ hours walking back to GaoShanQing hotel.

Let me know if there is any further question.

July 12, 2009 at 9:30 AM
Daniel134 said...

Hi ChiehYong, thanks for reading this blog.

At that time, I called Gaoshanqing hotel to make a reservation and pay the amount upon reaching.

Seems like the link to this hotel is not working, perhaps you can try searching using this link: http://163.29.235.132/cn/live.php

Hope this helps.

October 20, 2009 at 10:01 PM
Daniel134 said...

Dear readers, I've updated the link to Gau Shan Ching hotel in the blog. Alternatively here's the link: http://ganshan.hotel.com.tw/eng/

January 9, 2012 at 9:11 PM
 

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