A good nights sleep and no curtains means I’m up at 6am and I carry my stuff in stealth mode on tip toe to the communal area. Al joins me and after packing we walk to the bus station and catch an earlier bus to Alishan National Park.
The journey is 2 hours with the final 1.5 hours snaking up mountain switchbacks where vertical drops mean sections of the road have disappeared here and there. Views are breathtaking though, with morning mist sitting in green valleys and blue skies above.
From Alishan village there is a well developed network of signposted walkways which we spend the morning following. Although the sun is beaming, we have climbed a lot, so jumpers are donned. We see the old Japanese narrow gauge railway used in colonial times for logging and a huge, busy temple before we stop for tea.
We follow the ancient tree trail through the atmospheric cypress wood which is dappled in sunlight. Dragonflies hover, ferns gently unfurl in a prehistoric setting where trees and rocks are covered in moss and some cypresses have stood for 2000 years. In front of us, Chinese grannies scream at each other piercing the forest stillness.
The trail turns steep and the grannies turn off and we enjoy the mossy quiet. Its an old, old environment, a reflective and thoughtful place.
Back in Chiayi we walk to the train station and an older fellow starts chatting to us. He asks what we’re doing and if we’re enjoying Taiwan and then helps us with the train and platform we need to get to Taichung. He also tells us we can use our ‘easy card’ which saves us a lot of money. Another example of how kind and helpful the Taiwanese people can be.
A short walk to our hostel and its tea for one tonight of Japanese noodle soup. Alishan has a poorly stomach.