After 2 good days at 53.1 Min Su in Alishan, it was time to do the long 8 hour route to Taroko National Park. If you ever want to take this route, we highly recommend our driver, Mr Lu (Contact number: +886928569081), who is a robust, healthy 68-year-old grandfather retiree. He is enthusiastic and friendly, suggests locations for us to take photos, suggests and helps us take “jumping” shots, feeds us fruits and slows down because I am car sick and tells me his life stories to distract me from my motion sickness. He is also very knowledgable about Taiwan’s history, economy and details of the various tourist sites so he made the entire day tour much more educational.
First up, after leaving Alishan at 830am, 2 hours later, we stopped by the Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) to take the obligatory shot with the “Sun Moon Lake” Stone Carving. The lake view against the mountains and clouds is beautiful but I felt the entire Sun Moon Lake area has become quite commercial and touristy, with a lot of tour buses and tourists around all the scenic spots.
After Sun Moon Lake was lunch at this Specialty Chicken cooked in brick ovens over charcoal. The chicken was soft, tender with a very slight herbal infused after taste. It took 3 of us to finish the chicken so do order sparingly. We also had traditional san zhu cai (wild vegetables) (traditional and popular gao li cai (cabbage) on the sides. It was a tad foggy but still a beautiful view over lunch.
We continued our journey up to Cingjing (清境), which is a little oddity town on the mountain area. The first big architecture one would notice is the Old England, which looks like it was moved from the UK. Then, the other famous spot is the Sheep Farm, which looks like it was plucked out from Australia. A very popular stop which we would have stayed for a night too if we had more days in Taiwan. There was a lot of cabbage growing in these high lands which explains where all the fresh cabbage we were eating was coming from.
The highlight of the day had to be He Huan Mountain (合歡山), where we got to experience wintery goodness at -2 degC with a lot of wind chill; I almost felt like I was been blown into motion at some point. In fact, there was so much snow and ice on the roads, we had our first snow chain experience. I love all the snow dusted over the dry junipers at this 3200 metres altitude. Lovely experience!
On the descent down, we got to see the super thick 3200 year old Bilu Sacred tree (碧綠神木) before it got dark. Bilu Sacred Tree is a Lunta Fir, about 50m high with a diameter of 3.5m. Situated between Ci’en and Bilu, Bilu Sacred Tree is the largest old tree along the Central Cross-Island Highway.This tree made the rest of the cypress trees at Alishan Peak look relatively small.
Mr Lu and us also had some fun trying to capture plum blossom shots at night, before reaching Taroko in the evening. He ensured we got some dinner packed at Tian Xiang (天祥) Can Ting, which serves both traditional native dishes and usual Taiwanese food before reaching Leader Village which might not serve food so late.
Very enjoyable and scenic day trip. Mr Lu also does tours in English and Japanese, so I highly recommend his tours if you are looking for transport across this mountainous region in Taiwan!
Full sets of posts that might be useful for your Taipei planning:
- Wu Fen Pu (五分埔) Shopping and Rao He Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市)
- Xi Men Ding (西門町)
- Shi Lin Night Market (士林夜市)
- Taipei 101, Christmas Illuminations, 大佳河濱公園 Park for 2014 Countdown
- Restaurant – L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Restaurant (侯布雄法式餐廳)
- Hotel– Hope Hotel (全家歡商務旅店 ) and Cosmos Hotel (天成大飯店)
For locations outside of Taipei:
- Taiwan: Alishan (阿里山) – Fen Qi Hu (奮起湖) and 53.1 Homestay Min Su (民宿)
- Taiwan: Alishan Main Attraction – Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山國家風景區)
- Taiwan: Alishan 阿里山, Sun Moon Lake 日月潭 , Cing Jing 清境, Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園
- Taiwan: Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園
- Taiwan: Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 Lodging/Hotel – Silks Place 太鲁阁晶英酒店
- Taiwan: Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園 Lodging/Hotel – Leader Village 立德布洛灣山月村