Thursday, July 4, 2019

Taiwan Trip Day 6 - Alishan (阿里山) | Alishan National Forest Recreational Area (阿里山国家森林游乐区)

6 December 2018

While many preferred to stay within the Alishan Forest Recreational area, we decided to go against the odds and stayed in a Minsu at Xiding (near Eryanping). It was one of the best experience we had and the children still have fond memories.

We get to admire sunrise right from the door step outside of our Minsu - David's House and had a delicious home-cook breakfast before taking the shuttle bus (台湾好行) to Alishan.

Click on link to find out more about David's House and how to get to Alishan -

Getting to Alishan from where we stayed was easy as it was a 1 hour bus ride all the way up to Alishan Transport Station. We set off at 7:30am sharp and arrived slightly before 8:30am. There is a 7-Eleven store for travelers to purchase snacks or drinks. Suggest that you also go for a toilet break before continuing your journey.

From the bus alighting point, take a walk up to Alishan National Recreational Forest entrance where visitors will need to pay an admission fee to get into the National Park.



Admission fees into Alishan National Forest Recreational Area is NT300 for general visitors. However, as we took the public transport, our admission rate per pax is NT150! So remember to keep and present your bus ticket stub to the counter staff to enjoy the discount.

Advisory to Admission fees to Alishan National Forest Recreational Area

Continue your walk up towards Alishan Train Station. This is where you can purchase train tickets to Chaoping or Sacred Tree Station.

8:40am - Queuing up to buy train tickets to Chaoping Station. You can check out the timetable of the train schedule and snap a photograph so that you can gauge the time of your return trip.

We got our train tickets @ NT100 each (single trip)

Plus there is still time for some photo taking before the train departs at 9am. 

Alishan Train Station is beautiful! I love the architecture and its wooden structure. Surrounded by greenery, it is really worth spending some time to take pictures here for remembrance. 

Took a really quick shot of the interior of the train cabin before more passengers hop on. 

Although the train ride from Alishan to Chaoping is only about 10 minutes, do not miss seeing the forest and mountain scenery along the way.

Chaoping Station (沼平)

On a personal note, I thought it was pretty cool to stand and pose on the railway tracks. Not something that I can do often back home. 

This was my planned walking route at Alishan National Forest Recreational Area. Looks pretty scary as there seems to be a lot of places to go but with the lovely weather in Alishan, the walk is achievable

Alishan Walking Trail (Suggested)
[ 沼平公园 - 天空步道 - Walk towards Chaoping Station and continue to walk down slope to 姐妹潭 - 三兄弟 - 四姐妹 - 金猪报喜 - 永结同心 - 受鎮宮 - 象鼻木 - 三代木 - 阿里山博物馆 - 樹靈塔 - 香林神木 - 阿里山神木遗迹 - 神木車站]

We did not manage to complete all the scenic spots but the above is a suggested trail which you can take on.

Chaoping Park (沼平公园)

Upon exit from Chaoping Train Station, do spend some time to take a short walk on Chaoping Skywalk Trail (沼平公园天空步道) that gets you closer to the trees.

Walk on the raised platform

From Chaoping station, we walked downslope towards 姐妹潭 

Unfortunately, as much as we did our homework, plans changed as there was construction works ongoing during our visit and a major part of the walking trail was sealed off. We had no choice but to make a big detour. Still, that did not stop us from continuing our trail towards the Sacred Tree Station.

Walking along the rail tracks

Down slope towards 'The Sisters Pond' (姐妹潭)

You will come to The Younger Sister Pond (妹潭first. During Summer, the pond is filled with water, while in the winter, the water level may be very low. The pond has the function of nourishing the soil and regulating the micro-climate, providing the water required by animals and plants.

The Elder Sister Pond has a lovely pavilion made of cypress wood in the middle of the pond. Both ponds are surrounded by Eucalyptus trees which was planted by the Japanese government. There is a legend about The Sisters Pond that says a pair of aboriginal sisters who live here fall in love with the same man. Both of them can't let go of their love and does not want to ruin their sisterhood and hence, they throw themselves into the pond. Legends aside, the ponds are natural scenic spots within the recreational area.

三兄弟 (right) - These are three straight-up Taiwan red cypress trees growing side by side on top of the remaining stumps. As they looked similar to each other, the locals nickname them as The Three Brothers

四姐妹 (left) - On top of one big stump of cypress trees after its falling, four natural seeds of the same species happened to be air-delivered there and grow into four rather closely gathered trees reminding people of four endearing sisters.

In the midst of figuring our way out, we missed some iconic spots. From the Sisters Pond, we made a u-turn back towards Chaoping Station. Along the way, there is a series of steps going upwards and downwards. Thankfully the weather is cooling which makes the walk less hectic.

It feels great to be surrounded by the trees and soaked in the natural forest bath, breathing in the phytoncides (芬多精) released by the trees for relaxation.

Part of our forest trail

We are finally back to Chaoping Station. 

It was another long walk before we reached Alishan House - a four star accommodation in Alishan. Not far ahead, you will find Tokyo Cherry - the King of Cherry Blossom. Unfortunately it is not the cherry blossom season hence we can't see any flowers. Else, Alishan is also a popular spot for admiring Cherry Blossom.

Nature really makes wonder. It is amazing to see tree stump that looks like Elephant's Trunk (象鼻木). Take a closer look at the aged red cypress stump and you can vividly see a resemblance of an elephant's head, eyes and trunk.

三代木 - The Three Generation Trees is like a tree within a tree. The aged tree roots lying on the ground were the first generation of a 1500 years old tree. The roots were withered for about 250 years and then there was a seed dropping on the roots and it absorbed the essential nutrients from the withered tree roots. The little seed sprout leaves and grew up to be the second generation tree. After passing of 300 years, the second-generation tree roots aged and its stem became hollow. Despite facing all odds, the roots survived and grew up as the third generation tree.

We passed by Shanlin Elementary School (香林国小), standing on an elevation of 2195 meters above sea level, it is the highest institution in Taiwan.

We embarked on a walking trail among the Giant Tree Cluster (巨木群棧道). Alishan is blessed with abundant rainfall with perennial mist all year round and it has become a homeland for red cypress trees. Look out for the Xianglin Giant Tree (香林神木) which is the most majestic one in Alishan. 

Follow the planked wooden platform and admire the centuries and millennium cypress trees. Each one is uniquely different.

 We looked so small beneath the tall cypress trees.

Fallen Alishan Sacred Tree (阿里山神木遗迹) - Next to Sacred Tree Station (神木車站) lies the first sacred tree which was estimated to be 3000 years old when it was alive. Unfortunately, on two occasions, lightning struck on the tree causing it to burn internally out and it died. Ongoing earthquakes and typhoons caused the soil to be loosen and eventually in 1997, a heavy rain caused part of the tree to fall and it landed on the railway tracks. The remaining log now rest next to the train station where it once stood. 

Sacred Tree/Shenmu Station (神木車站) - Many will wait for the train to arrive into the station and quickly snap some photos. This is my personal favourite train station in Taiwan so far as I can admire the piscturesque sight with the rail tracks, train, trees and blue sky all within my view.

We have a train to catch!

11:40am - We were back at Alishan Train Station before noon.There are still time and we head off to Alishan Post Office - Taiwan's highest post office standing at 2274m above sea level. Despite news reporting that the post office is operating at a loss, it continues to open its door to the public for the good of public welfare. I must say this is the prettiest post office I have seen with an outstanding architecture and it has now become a tourist attraction as well. You can purchase a post card from the nearby 7-11 store and send back a postcard here!

There are a few eateries at Alishan so there is no worries of finding food around here. We grabbed a quick bite before taking the shuttle bus (台湾好行) back to our homestay.

It has indeed been a therapeutic walk within the forest and we felt nourished. The walk was slow paced and we did not need to rush throughout our trip. We skipped the ordeal of waking up early in the morning to take train to Zhushan (祝山) to catch the sunrise, and chose to admire sunrise right at the door step of our homestay. This is indeed how holiday should be, at your own pace, admire the scenery and feel rested. 

Alishan National Forest Recreational Area (阿里山国家森林游乐区)
Address: No.17, shunling village Chiayi County Alishan Township

More photos at BPDGTravels Facebook Page

Check out our 2 Weeks Taiwan Itinerary Family Trip here

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