Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Taiwan, Day Three

Day Three started out at 8am with a 3-hour bus ride from Taipei to Chiayi, halfway down the island. Chiayi is about where Taiwan becomes tropical, and the roads were lined with banana and bezel nut trees. There's not too much to the city itself (though it did have a surprising selection of retail stores), but we had to stop there to catch another bus to Alishan National Scenic Area.
Chiayi's specialty dish is turkey rice, which doesn't look terribly appetizing (nor was the restaurant we ate it in particularly clean), but it was in fact very, very delicious. It was a treat to have turkey, since it's hardly heard of and even harder to find here in Japan.
There were random decrepit buildings.
Street scene in Chiayi.
So we hopped a 2-hour bus that climbed above the banana and bezel nut trees into the mountains, full of pine and cypress trees. We arrived at Alishan National Scenic Area mid-afternoon and were thrilled to find that the 37-38 degrees C it had been around sea level dropped to around 17-18 degrees in the mountains. The only thing I wasn't thrilled about was my lack of warm clothing. The atmosphere was brisk and misty.
Joe, in a giant Taiwanese red cypress stump. I need to send this to him so he can prove to his parents that he was in Taiwan! After stashing our stuff at the hostel (run by a tiny church), we got on the Giant Trees trail.
A small, colorful temple amid the rocks and trees.
They don't call it the Giant Trees trail for nothing.
Some fellow tourists, near the disused Sacred Tree line of the narrow-gauge railroad built by the Japanese when they occupied Taiwan. Most of the railway is now in disuse (due to landslides and such... you used to be able to take it all the way from Chiayi, but we found it shut down upon our arrival).
Part of the Sacred Tree, which was the biggest tree in the area until it was struck by lightning twice and finally died/fell down a while back.
Joe isn't even all the way to the end of the tree. I think it was a pretty damn big tree in its time.
These were our two favorite Giant Trees. Their shapes contrasted each other well.
Joe and I agreed that they reminded us of Lumiere, the candelabra from "Beauty and the Beast," and his saucy French feather duster girlfriend.
A very creepy-looking abandoned looking school/gymnasium near the head of the trail. There were a lot of stray dogs in the area and we were a bit freaked out when this one came towards us. I think the mist and the rising darkness was freaking us out a bit. Thankfully it left us alone, haha.
I think this is the "New" Sacred Tree. It has its own special name but I forget.
Sunset over the parking lot of the visitor's center. Just to the right of this photo, over the mountain range, a thunderstorm was raging.
We stopped in the 7-11 for provisions for the next morning. Joe told me to avoid this asparagus juice like the plague. I took his advice. Besides, it was only 20% juice.


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