Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alishan, Taiwan

After living in Taipei for about 4 years, I couldn't leave without seeing the much talked about Alishan, so I dragged my parents along and we hired a driver to take us there (we went via Sun Moon Lake and Qing Jing). The road was long and winding and at times scary due to the fog which I'm told is normal for mountain roads. Finally, at the end of a rather arduous journey, we reached Alishan. Stayed overnight and got up early the next morning to witness the sunrise.

At the station where we boarded the train to take us to the viewing point for the sunrise, we saw this wooden train. This is supposedly the most expensive train in Alishan as it's made entirely with wood (cypress I believe) which is extremely valuable. In addition, it's a real antique.

Whilst the above wooden train is no longer in use, the ones below are used today to ferry passengers to see the sunrise at Alishan.

I'm told that these trains were built by the Japanese during the time they occupied Taiwan. They were specially used to transport cypress for shipment back to Japan. These cypress trees in Alishan were highly valued as firstly, the wood was extremely hardy - it wouldn't rot even in water. Secondly, they took a very long time to grow which made them more valuable the bigger they were.

The beautiful forest trail which the train was winding through ...

At the sunrise viewing point ... shops selling products made fm cypress ... (naturally, these pics were taken after the sun had risen :) Prior to that, when we boarded the train, everything was shrouded in darkness.)

Finally! The sunrise!!!

We were told (rather belatedly I think) that it's actually pretty rare to see the sunrise as Alishan has high humidity so the area is often covered in mist/fog. Our driver had been to Alishan many times, but this was the first time he had ever seen the sunrise! I can't imagine enduring such winding roads and foggy conditions, to shake off sleep at such an early hour, only to be disappointed with seeing thick mist and fog. Thankfully, we were blessed with marvellous weather and were told we had 100% chance of seeing the sunrise :)

Two grand old cypress trees called "husband and wife" trees in chinese ...

A famous bento set or "bian dang" in the tradition of the olden days where ppl packed a meal to eat on the train ...

All for NT100 :)

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