Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Taiwan Trip Day 4 - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) | Ferry Ride | Qinglong Mountain Trail | Ci'En Pagoda

4 December 2018

I think we were very ambitious to try to complete what we would like to do in Sun Moon Lake in ONE day. It is amazing how well it turns out to be when we looked back. The lovely weather definitely helped us through our walks and rides.

Part 2 of Day 4 @ Sun Moon Lake
1) Boat Ride from Shuishe to XuanGuang Pier
2) Ah Ma Tea Leaf Egg (金盆阿嬷香菇茶葉蛋)
3) Qing Long Mountain Trail (青龙山步道)
4) Ci'en Pagoda Hiking Trail (慈恩塔步道)
5) Ci'en Pagoda (慈恩塔)
6) Xuanzang Temple (玄奘寺)

11am - Thanks to the Sun Moon Lake passes that we bought in Taichung on Day 1, we do not need to queue up for ferry tickets and took the ride to Xuanguang Pier (玄光码头).

Sun Moon Lake pass includes Sun Moon Lake Ropeway round-trip voucher, Round-the-Lake 1 day pass voucher, Shuishe to Xiangshan one-way bus voucher as well as Boat vouchers to take you to Shuishe, Ita Thao and Xuangang Piers. Definitely a big saver if you are planning to take the various transportation to take you to the scenic spots in Sun Moon Lake.

More details :

Ferry ride to Xuanguang Pier

Xuanguan Pier (玄光码头)

Have read many travelers' review that it is a MUST to try out Ah Ma's Tea Leaf Egg  (金盆阿嬷香菇茶葉蛋). Located not too far from the pier, we stopped by and bought 4 eggs for NT50 to snack first before our treacherous climb up to Ci'En Pagoda. Ah Ma's Tea Leaf Eggs are delicious and we LOVE it!

Continuing climbing the flight of stairs, we reached Xuanguang Temple

Actually, it was a last minute decision to add Ci'En Pagoda into our itinerary as we know there are multiple steps to climb before we reach the top of the Pagoda. The lady boss from the Blue Sky Bay B&B highly recommend us to go and take a look and hence we decided to make our way up!

There are many ways to get to Ci'En Pagoda and fortunately/unfortunately, we took the longest and most tiring route. -_-

How to get to Ci'En Pagoda
1) Hired car/transport to stop before the sign board indicating the climb up via Ci'En Pagoda Hiking Trail
2) Take the Round-the-Lake bus and alight at Xuanzang Temple bus stop. Continue with Ci'En Pagoda Hiking Trail to Ci'En Pagoda
3) Via Qinglong Mountain Trail from Xuanguan Pier, and continue with Ci'En Pagoda Hiking Trail at Xuanzang Temple

11:30am - Start of our walk/climb on Qinglong Mountain Trail (青龙山步道)

Gentle slope up at the beginning - hence still can take pictures

Steep climb began..... and I can only console myself by checking on the marker on the ground to indicate how far before we reach our next hiking trail. 

11:50am - I am the slowest among the pack and it took me awhile before we reached Xuanzang Temple. Do I look half dead?

If you have some time, you can turn left and visit Xuanzang Temple. Otherwise turn right and continue with Ci'En Pagoda Hiking Trail. 

The first section of the trail is a gentle slop up along the roads. If you hired a vehicle, you can drive further up ahead until vehicles can no longer pass through. 

Alternatively, you can take the Round-the-Lake bus to Xuanzang Temple bus stop, skipping the Qinglong Mountain Trail and start the climb to Ci'En Pagoda from here. That will save you a lot of time and energy. Do take note of the departing/arrival timings as the frequency of the buses are low at certain period of the day.

12pm - We rested for awhile before continuing our walk - Ci'En Pagoda : 900m ahead.

The Ci'En Pagoda Hiking Trail runs 700 meters through the dense forest, which is a good spot for firefly-watching during the late spring and early summer. 

The markers on the ground again kept me motivated to continue moving up the stairs. It also gave me some time/excuse to stop and catch my breath as I stood to take the pictures. By now, my legs are getting wobbly.

At the end of the trail is Ci'En Pagoda, a prominent landmark in Sun Moon Lake which was constructed in 1971 by the late President Chiang Kai-Shek in memory of his mother. Standing at 46 meters tall at an elevation of 954 meters on land, it is 1000 meters high at the very top.

12:20pm - WE FINALLY MADE IT to Ci'En Pagoda (慈恩塔)

Thankfully we bought some fresh fruits near Xuanguang Temple and were able to rest our feet and enjoy our sweet labour before we make another climb up to the top. 

Spiral stairways up to the top of Ci'En Pagoda - MORE CLIMBING!

The top of the pagoda provides 360 degree panorama views of the whole lake. A perfect spot to catch the sun rise/sun set. You get a direct line of sight from the pagoda through Xuanzang Temple and  Xuanguang Temple to Lalu Island - a line that is supposed to resemble a "Green Dragon reaching for a pearl". Ci'En Pagoda is located at the dragon's heart with Xuanzang Temple as its head and Xuanguang temple as its mouth, and Lalu Island as the pearl.

12:35pm - Magnificent view of Sun Moon Lake from the top of the pagoda

Can you spot Lalu Island?

Family photo to mark our accomplishment! 

Ring the Bell since you made it all the way here! Do note that the opening hours for the area is from 9am to 430pm so do not arrive too late to avoid disappointment.

1:25pm - We spent about 1 hour at Ci'En Pagoda before making our way down. The route down was so much easier than climbing up. In 15 minutes, we were back at Xuanzang Temple (玄奘寺) - a Buddhist temple built in 1965.

You will be familiar with Xuanzang, the Tripitaka master, if you have read the Chinese fiction - Journey to the West. Xuanzang is the prestigious monk who has devoted his life to promote Buddhist teachings. Within the temple holds the parietal-bone relic of Xuanzang and you can also have a closer look of Guanying. Only Hubby went in while the children and I waited outside to rest.

We missed the Round-the-Lake bus to take us back to the pier / Ita Thao bus stop. Hence, the only way is to take the same walking route back. Thankfully it was generally a down slope path and we reached Xuanguang Pier at 2:05pm

2:20pm - On to our next destination - Ita Thao Pier!

More of Day 4 on our next post.

More photos @ BPDGTravels Facebook page

Check out our 2 Weeks Taiwan Itinerary Family Trip here

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