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Saturday, March 24, 2018

hiking in alishan's clouds

Alishan has been at the top of my list of Places to Visit in Taiwan for years. I love mountains, antique trains, and cherry blossoms, so what better place on earth to visit than the Alishan National Scenic Area in central Taiwan? Again, we somehow managed to live on this tiny island for more than five years before making it here, and, as it turns out, it is only a 3.5 hour drive away from our apartment in Hsinchu!

This was the last stop on our road trip around Taiwan, and Alishan proved to be a giant tease from beginning to end! The day we drove into the mountains, a thick cloud cover swept over the island. As we drove higher and higher into the mountains, we could barely see more than 20 feet in either direction. In all honesty, I was really, really disappointed because I was expecting to see amazing views.
We stayed in Fenchihu, a little village 40 minutes outside of the national park. It took us a long time to find the hidden entrance to our AirBnb in the thick fog, and all I can wonder is how did we ever survive before GoogleMaps? 

After unpacking, the owner of our log cabin AirBnb led us to a hiking trail that followed a nearby river. The river led through a dense bamboo forest with cherry blossoms, so many stairs, cute bridges, and temples almost completely obscured by the heavy fog. Bubu had so much fun romping off leash through the forest, and everyone we passed had to stop to say hi to him and the baby. 

Confession: I must have climbed 1,000+ stairs wearing her, and I really thought my legs were going to fall off!
We extended our trip by one night and day so we could hopefully see Alishan without all the fog hanging around. Finally, on our last day, before heading home, we packed the car and made the 40 minute drive further into the mountains. To our great surprise, the fog lifted for 15 minutes, just long enough to hop out of the car and snap some photos of the high central mountain range. 

We poked around some old rail road trails, but wild monkeys and the threat of snow sent us homewards. In the end, Alishan is the one place I have to visit again before we leave Taiwan this summer. 

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