Tag Archives: Alishan

Taiwan Trip–Mountain Highway from Alishan to SML

If you’re planning to travel from Alishan to Sun Moon Lake, make sure you engage a licensed taxi driver and do clarify to  make sure that the taxi fare includes insurance coverage for all passengers. Better still, avoid this route if possible…

You’ll know what I mean when you see the following pictures :-

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I knew that we would have to travel along a stretch of mountain highway, but seriously, I did not expect it to be so – perilous! I was praying silently in my heart as we slowly made our way past three danger zones. By God’s grace and protection, we made it to our destination, safe and sound. Truly thank God for journey mercy~

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Taiwan Trip – From Alishan to Sun Moon Lake

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Day 6 – July 12th, 2012

We departed from Xin Xin ‘minsu’ Alishan at 8.45am. Our final destination for the day was 柏克萊民墅 Bokelai ‘minsu’ at 清境农场Cing Jing Veteran Farm, but along the way, we planned to stop by the renowned Sun Moon Lake as well as a few other tourist spots. The journey from Alishan to CingJing would normally take around 5-6 hours by car.

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A: Alishan           B: Sun Moon Lake           C: CingJing

We hired a ‘taxi’ from Go-Go-Alishan company and paid NT$5000 for the trip (8 hours in a 9-seater Volkswagen Caravelle).  Our driver for the day, 大熊, is a very jovial and humorous chap. He is also very thoughtful. Throughout the journey, he made an effort to engage everyone in the conversation and he even prepared bottled drinking water for us. He was also quick to offer to take photos for us at every stop. In addition, he’s also a careful and experienced driver.

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Along the way to Sun Moon Lake, we stopped at several scenic spots  to take pictures. At one of the stops, we saw at least a dozen rhesus monkeys heading in our direction. The sight was quite alarming!  According to 大熊, the monkeys had grown accustomed to tourists and ‘human food’.   I wasn’t fond of the monkeys, though – they looked very wild and aggressive. One of them even showed us his butt! Ewwwh…

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Husband-and-Wife Trees

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@ 梅子夢工廠 / Dream Works of  the Mei Winery


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We reached Sun Moon Lake around noon. Indeed, the scenery here was breath-taking. After taking photos at Shuei She dam, we had lunch at a restaurant in Harbour Resort Hotel, overlooking the Shuei She Pier. The restaurant, which was highly recommended by our driver,  served traditional Thao cuisine. Although, the food was rather pricey (around NT$250-320 for one set lunch), we did enjoy the atmosphere and the beautiful view from the restaurant. 

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After lunch, we visited several tourist spots at Sun Moon Lake, namely Wenwu temple, Peacock Garden and Ita Thao.

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Spotted at Sun Moon Lake – it should be a dog, but it looked a bit like a cat and it reminded me of a black-and-white cow… what do you think?

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The bible verse on the front door – Acts 16:31.

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By the time we left Ita Thao, Sun Moon Lake, it was already half past three. From there, we drove to Puli town, which is also known as the “heart of Taiwan” as it lies at the geographical centre of the island.

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A: Puli, Nantou County in Taiwan

From there, we made our way to Cing Jing. After a whole day’s journey, we finally arrived at Bokelai ‘minsu’ around 5.30pm. Stay tuned for more of Taiwan. Coming up next: Cing Jing Veteran Farm

Taiwan Trip – Random Stuff @ Alishan

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Day 4 – July 10th 2012 and Day 5 – July 11th, 2012

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– Happily stamping away@ Alishan Visitors’ Centre

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– Steamboat for dinner @ Alishan 山宾美味餐厅

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– Dinner @ Alishan 九九九 Restaurant

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– If you’re not too fussy about food, you can settle all your meals at 7-Eleven (or simply “Seven” to the Taiwanese)  …. They have lunchboxes (便当), herbal eggs, hotdog  buns and ‘char siew pau’, fish balls, meat balls, assorted instant noodles, coffee, ice-cream etc.
@ Alishan 7-Eleven

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– Wooden postcards… NT$60-80 each; stamp NT$25 (to Malaysia). It took roughly 10 days for the wooden postcards to be delivered (from Taiwan to Malaysia).

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– This is a POST OFFICE, and not a temple…
Seriously, I’m not kidding you… @Alishan Post Office

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– Black & White, the most humongous dogs I’ve ever seen!
@Alishan shops

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The Wonders of Alisan

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Day 4 – July 10th 2012
and Day 5 – July 11th, 2012

We were very blessed indeed to be able to experience all the five wonders of Alishan – sunrise, sunset, sea of clouds, mountain train and forest trails. As the saying goes, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’, so I’ll let the following photos tell the story of our short, but memorable, stay at Alishan Forest Recreation Area.

Sunrise (日出)

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Sunset (日落)

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Sea of clouds (云海)

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Railway (铁路)

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Forest Trails (森林)

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Taiwan Trip – Xin Xin Minsu @ Alishan

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欣欣民宿 Xin Xin ‘minsu’ was highly recommended by a friend who had stayed there during her visit some years back. If you were to search online for reviews on Xin Xin ‘minsu’, you would most likely come across both positive and negative comments. We did take the negative comments into consideration, but in the end we decided to stay there anyway as it suited our needs and the pros outweighed the cons (for our case).

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Pros:
1. We couldn’t have asked for a better location. Xin Xin ‘minsu’ is located near the main parking area – the drop-off point for public buses. It is right next to 7-Eleven (you can easily settle all your meals here if you’re not very fussy about food) and there are shops and restaurants nearby too. The visitors’ centre and Alishan shuttle bus stand are just opposite the ‘minsu’. The best part is that you can walk to Alishan train station in less than 10 minutes (just go up one flight of stairs).

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*This photo was taken while standing outside the Visitors’ Centre.

2. The room rate is reasonable. We booked online and made the payment through PayPal. For a 6-person room, we paid around NT$3200 per night. Compared to other accommodations in Alishan, Xin Xin ‘minsu’ is relatively more economical.

3. We loved the room, which was clean and comfortable. We were especially fascinated by the “roof window” and built-in double-deck bed.

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4. The ‘minsu’ owner and family members who help to run the ‘minsu’ are very warm and hospitable. The owner, who used to be the village chief, came to greet us and showed us the way to the ‘minsu’ the moment we disembarked from the bus. We were also given a map and a detailed introduction to Alishan Forest Recreation Area after we checked in. They even provided sweaters and umbrellas for guests!

Cons:
1. The stairs are very steep and narrow. It was a hassle having to carry our luggage up and down the stairs.

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2. No breakfast.

3. Wi-fi was not available in our room. We had to go to the lobby to go online.

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Taiwan Trip – Our Journey from Taipei to Alishan

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Day 4 – July 10th, 2012

Breakfast at Nei Jiang Hotel was nothing spectacular.  We found our breakfast, i.e. a sandwich and a packet of juice, conveniently packed and hanging on our door handle as we were leaving the room. After checking out from Nei Jiang Hotel, we headed for Taipei Main Station. We had to take two separate cabs because taxi drivers in Taipei could only take a maximum of four passengers and there were five of us.

We disembarked at the West 3 entrance and proceeded to the HSR ticket counters. Five adult tickets from Taipei to Chiayi cost us NT$5400 (NT$1080 each). The bullet train that we were taking was scheduled to depart at 8.36am; and salute to the transportation system in Taiwan, the train left the station at 8.36am on the dot. We were impressed!

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We arrived at Chiayi HSR station at 10.00am. Our plan was to take the local Chiayi City Bus to Alishan Forest Recreation Area. While searching for the bus schedule, I came across this guide by sinotour (http://sinotour.com/tourguide/alishan/transportation.asp) which I found very helpful. According to the schedule provided, one could either take the 10.10am or 11.40am bus from Chiayi HSR station direct to Alishan (2 1/2 hours journey, NT$255 per pax). We missed the 10.10am bus. As we did not want to waste time waiting for the 11.40am bus, we decided to take the other alternative.

We took the free shuttle bus to Chiayi train station (30 mins), walked over to the nearby bus station (5-10 mins) and took the 11.10am bus to Alishan (2 hours, NT$221). We saved NT$170 ( NT$34×5) and arrived 40 minutes earlier than if we were to take the 11.40am bus from the HSR station.

*Note: The free shuttle bus drop-off point is at Chiayi train station (back entrance). You would have to walk to the front by crossing an overheard bridge. The picture below shows the front station of Chiayi TRA.  If you are facing the station, the ticket counter and waiting area for the bus to Alishan is to your left.

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Taking the direct bus from the HSR station would save us a lot of hassle. In retrospect, we should have taken the 8.00 am bullet train from Taipei in order to make it for the 10.10 am direct bus. Otherwise, we could have slept in and take the 10.00 a.m. bullet train and still make it for the 11.4o am direct bus.

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After about 1 1/2 hours of winding mountain road, we stopped for a quick toilet break in a small town. It was another 45 minutes before we reached our destination. At the entrance to Alishan Forest Recreation Area, we had to disembark from the bus to pay the entrance fee – NT$150 (for those arriving on public transport). Kiate, my brother and I only had to pay NT$100 each because we showed them our youth travel cards.

*Note: The entrance fees included a group insurance policy for the duration of our stay at Alishan Forest Recreation Area. We were given the following insurance form which we filled out and submitted at the Visitors’ Centre after we checked in.

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After we’d paid the fees, we re-boarded the bus and proceeded to the main parking area (the final drop-off point). The following panorama view will give you a rough idea what to expect…
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Kiate took this picture while standing in front of the Visitors’ Centre.

When we disembarked from the bus, the owner of XinXin ‘minsu’ 欣欣民宿 came to greet us and showed us the way to his ‘minsu’. After checking in, we freshened up and went out to explore the area. The temperature was around 16°C-18°C and it was drizzling slightly when we arrived.

Stay tuned for the next entry on the 5 wonders of Alishan and a review of XinXin ‘minsu’ 欣欣民宿 …

Taiwan Trip – From Hualien to Alishan

When we started planning this trip, the first thing that we did was to decide on the places that we would like to visit. After doing initial research, we finally decided to limit our trip to Taipei and surrounding areas, Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Alishan,  Sun Moon Lake and Cing Jing Recreation Farm. The next thing we had to do was to figure out how to link all these places and how much time to spend at each destination. Among the factors that we took into consideration were: safety, convenience, comfort, travelling time, cost etc.

Starting with the beginning point – Taoyuan International Airport, which would also be the end point, Kiate and I brainstormed together and considered all the possible routes to fit in all the places that we had planned to visit. It felt as though we were putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and the most challenging part was that we had to search for the pieces. After much discussion and deliberation (as evident in this piece of “art”), we finally settled for the following itinerary:

  1. From Taoyuan Airport, take train to Hualien (2 nights).
  2. Engage a driver to bring us on a one-day tour of Taroko Gorge.
  3. Then, take train back to Taipei (1 night).
  4. The next day, take HSR/bullet train to Chiayi and then take bus to Alishan (2 nights).
  5. Next, engage a driver to take us from Alishan to Cing Jing (2 nights), passing through Sun Moon Lake along the way.
  6. Take the bus from Cing Jing to Taichung to take the HSR/bullet train back to Taipei (1 night)
  7. Take the MRT to travel around Taipei and all the way to Tamsui and XinBeiTou (1 night).
  8. Engage a driver to take us around Jiufen, JinGuaShi and Shifen. Back to Taipei (1 night).
  9. Take a cab to Taoyuan Airport on the last day.

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You might notice that we didn’t actually go round the island, as in Taipei-Hualien-CingJing-SunMoonLake-Alishan-Taipei; instead, we went from Hualien back to Taipei before moving south to Alishan, and then made our way back up north. We did consider the former option but decided against it because the highway linking Hualien and CingJing, i.e. the Central Cross-Island Highway (中部橫貫公路),…

“…runs through exceedingly rugged and unstable terrain. Heavy rain from typhoons often dislodge soil and rocks onto the highway making sections of it impassable. As well, the area is prone to seismic activity which can have disastrous effects on the highway.”  – wikipedia –

Anyway, I totally abandoned the idea after coming across this video on YouTube:-

The route from Taichung to Hualien (via Hehuanshan)


While planning for the trip, we also found out that part of the highway was temporarily closed to traffic due to a landslide. To be on the safe side, we decided to go back to Taipei and then take the bullet train down south instead.

When we told the local drivers and ‘minsu’ owners our travel plans, some thought that it was a waste of time and money while others agreed that it was the safer option. Well, let me summarize both options for you here and you decide for  yourself what is best.

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Either way, I strongly recommend that you get a travel insurance policy to cover any eventualities and for peace of mind. Above all, as a Christian, I strongly believe that it is absolutely crucial to commit all plans unto the Lord and to pray for protection and journey mercy. We did and praise the Lord that all our prayers (safety, journey mercy, good health and fine weather) were answered.