Purple has now turned blue... purple is joy, yet blue is hope!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Travel - Taiwan JiaYi 嘉義 & Alisan 阿里山 (Part 1) Nov 2014

Taiwan, a place in which I may wish to visit most. Been here for the 3rd time, and I still love it. Of course, never expect to enjoy as we did if you are on a tour. If you like nature and chilling weather (except summer and not the boring tropical weather), this is the place where you could find good facilities, infrastructure, public transport to enjoy the preserved nature. Also, in a safe manner.

Kudos to my travel partner, who planned most of the trips to-do and accommodations. While I just spelled out my high level requirement (sounds like a boss! :)) My objective is simple - nature & locals, be it transportations and foods. Except accommodations, we didn't get "local" enough, as the last minute booking didn't allow us to choose for homestays 民宿 type. Our journey time was rather limited, in such we ought to stay nearby the train stations, hence that limited our options.

Part of the main township/cities we hit along this trip.. JiaYi 嘉義, Alisan 阿里山, TaiChung 台中, ChingJing Farm 清境農場, Taipei  台北. Smaller area includes suburb of  TaiChung, i.e. HouLi 后里and Taipei, i.e. SanXia 三峽, YingGer 鶯歌, GuanDu 關渡, DanSui 淡水.

Trip Coverage
Tip: Walk in to most i (Tourist information booth) around most cities/town, you will be able to grab more travel info, places to stop, interesting activities around. Example below, cycling path and place for all categories.

Tourist info - Alisan
Tourist info - Jiayi Cycling path
Jiayi 嘉義

Transport : Upon reaching TaoYuan 桃園 airport around 2.30pm. We headed straight to the bus ticket area, hopped on a bus 客運 to JiaYi. We asked the counter which route, bus or high speed train been a better choice. Turned up they recommended bus trip, as it would bring us straight to the destination, which was JiaYi's train station. So we went on the bus.

Accommodation : JiaYi Duke Hotel via Agoda 嘉義凱爵商務酒店 - Not bad, clean and new. Just opposite the train station. They have several hotels (same owner) on the same building, we ended up staying at other named hotel (can't remember the name) since this was under pesticide cleaning.

Meals : We didn't have proper lunch nor tea time. Due to timing, we grabbed 2 herbal eggs 茶葉蛋 & 2 wrapped rice 飯糰 from the airport convenient store. It was nice, we hit to the convenient shop the most over this trip. Japanese wrapped rice was so tasty...

I specifically requested for minced pork rice 滷肉飯 for dinner. Without much prep, we walked a few streets to hunt, in the end landed at a franchise store, quite branded I guess. Not bad as start. A small bowl of minced pork rice usually cost NT$250.

All of our hotels were inclusive of breakfast. Trend today, most hotels don't maintain own kitchen and breakfast area. They will provide a breakfast coupon with the nearest fast food chained. We got McD on the first morning. Too bad they ran out of pork burger... There we grabbed our breakfast and headed back to the train + bus station, getting ready for the next venture to Alisan, 2000+M above sea level.
飯糰 wrapped rice
Minced Pork Rice
McD as Breakfast

Alisan 阿里山

Transport : No other option except bus from JiaYi train station. We preferred the train but the service had been halted few years ago due to some unforeseen incident. Heard they will re-open the line some time soon.

Upon entering National park, visitors need to register ourselves as well as paying a small fees for insurance.

Within Alisan, we could tour around via internal trains. 2 train stations, ones for evening walk, another for visiting sunrise place the very next morning at 530AM. Daily train and sunrise timing is announce in the afternoon around 3-4PM.
Entering Alisan National Park
Alisan ChaoPing Station (Main)

Accommodation : Alisan ChinSan Hotel via Agoda 阿里山青山別館 - They claimed they don't serve 陸客, oh well... the S.E.A. guests can be equally noisy, especially when they come in group. Overall rating is not too bad, cozy hotel.

Checking in Alisan 青山別館
Meals : Upon recommendation from  the hotel's front desk, we ended up at a food store nearby the place we told to grab our breakfast next morning. Stumbled into the shop, and picked up some fruits from the food truck outside. We ordered a simple meal - 陽春 soup noodle, a 東波 rice set and a side dish (quite large and pricey too) ginger fried wild boar. Not bad for a chilling weather. It was ~20C that afternoon.
Fruits truck
Soup noodle
Rice set
Ginger fried wild boar
Weather changed pretty soon after our lunch. Turned cloudy and we kinda missed the early train ride out to the jungle a.k.a. national park. The counter break for lunch :( Hence, we need to kill some time checking out places for dinner and other activity upon returning from the jungle track (well, more like walking since they have nice trails). The walk was extremely nice, except for a part we missed in which there were some elevation climb involved... plus midst rain which came in half way through our journey, glad we brought our Uniqlo raincoat along.

Alisan National Park
Dinner was simple yet awesome. We surveyed a few restaurants but its not to our liking. We prefer local and simple food, aiming on places where the local, or taxi drivers would have their meal. I was attracted by the homey and rosewood furniture at the dining area. We ordered a set rice and beef noodle. As usual, I prefer soupy hot noodle since weather was cold. We took away supper along from the same shop, its Chinese pancake 蔥爪餅. It tasted like Malaysian roti canai, except filled with some minced pork, egg and vege, this version was slightly salty, but the pastry was just alike roti kosong garing.

Porky set rice & woody furniture
Beef noodle
Taiwanese Pancake
Our next morning breakfast was buffet coupon, came long with our stay. Again, its at another restaurant. It was served with local dishes, i.e. porridge, steamed bun and other side dishes. Simple yet filling. 

Places of interest : Besides the national park trails, you should not miss the sunrise watching at dawn. Train tickets were sole a day in advance, and train timing is determined by the expected daylight timing, by 4PM that evening. There are 2 spots available, one directly at the train station stop, another nicer one (with platforms) located another 500M hike up. I felt a little out of breath upon the destination, it was 2700+M above sea level, one may get acclimatized easily, luckily I was safe.

Stunning sunrise watching
Felt the energy from the morning sun
Scenery upon return
Stay tune for next posts... God knows when :)