Eat, Fly, Taiwan
comments 18

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 Travel Review Series)

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.

SML+CJ+TNP-11

Cheery 68 year old tour guide and driver

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.

wpid-20131229_110538_1.jpg

Sun Moon Lake – Shot on the phone!

SML+CJ+TNP-2SML+CJ+TNP-3

SML+CJ+TNP-4

Scenic shots of Sun Moon Lake

SML+CJ+TNP-5

Famous temple at Sun Moon Lake

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.

SML+CJ+TNP-6

Ah Tong Specialty Chicken

SML+CJ+TNP-12

Ah Tong Specialty Chicken – Name Card

SML+CJ+TNP-16

Brick Ovens, to slow cook the chicken over charcoal

SML+CJ+TNP-13

Fishing the chicken out of the oven

SML+CJ+TNP-15

Fresh chicken!

SML+CJ+TNP-7

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside

SML+CJ+TNP-8

Omelette – pretty ordinary. order the other more special dishes!

SML+CJ+TNP-9

San Zhu Cai (usually only in the mountaineous areas of Taiwan)

SML+CJ+TNP-10

Gao Li Cai (cabbage) grown and freshly plucked from nearby mountains. Crunchy!

SML+CJ+TNP-14

Fantastic 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.

wpid-20131229_133702.jpg

Pretty – even shot simply on the phone!

SML+CJ+TNP-17

Looks straight out of England…

SML+CJ+TNP-18

Pretty castle looking buildings overlooking the mountains

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!

wpid-20131229_143742.jpg

Panoramic shot of the snowy, foggy view

image

wpid-storageextSdCardDCIMCamera20131229_162239_RichtoneHDR.jpg.jpg

Frozen junipers and landscape

wpid-storageextSdCardDCIMCamera20131229_150136_RichtoneHDR.jpg.jpg

Dog with lots of fur to cushion the snow..

SML+CJ+TNP-19

SML+CJ+TNP-20

SML+CJ+TNP-26

SML+CJ+TNP-21

Wintry goodness… frozen peak of He Huan Mountain (合歡山)

SML+CJ+TNP-22

Slippery mountain and howling winds..

SML+CJ+TNP-23

Icicles..

SML+CJ+TNP-24

-2 degres celcius outside, not counting wind chill yet. brrrr

SML+CJ+TNP-25

snowy candy fluff

SML+CJ+TNP-28

First snow chain experience

SML+CJ+TNP-34

Gorgeous snowy descent

SML+CJ+TNP-27 SML+CJ+TNP-29 SML+CJ+TNP-30 SML+CJ+TNP-31 SML+CJ+TNP-32

SML+CJ+TNP-33

Above the clouds but no longer snowy

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.

SML+CJ+TNP-36

Foggy roads – hiring a driver is much safer than trying to tackle the roads ourselves!

SML+CJ+TNP-35

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.

SML+CJ+TNP-37 SML+CJ+TNP-38 SML+CJ+TNP-39

SML+CJ+TNP-40

Affordable, comforting food after a long day trip!

Wide food selection!

Wide food selection!

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!

wpid-20140201_224938.jpg

Mr Lu’s namecard

Full sets of posts that might be useful for your Taipei planning:

For locations outside of Taipei: