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kiting, diving, trippin' I ain't never been lost, just confused for a few days - Daniel Boone

ChiaYi - ALiShan - Hsinchu

TAIWAN | Monday, 17 December 2012 | Views [1281] | Comments [1]

Tea terraces behind the sign showing the way to Ali Shan

Tea terraces behind the sign showing the way to Ali Shan

To get to the famous tourist spot of ALiShan you need to go through ChiaYi, which is pretty easy as the HSR train got us there from Taipei in just over an hour. There isn't a lot to do or see there - except a sister (Linda) that Rowie hadn't seen in over ten or twelve years! Once the shrieking and hugging had died down we went and ate - of course! - then had a look through a ceramic display/museum.  This is a display of the early stages and different styles of ceramic/pottery characters seen on the roofs and in the entrances to a lot of the temples around the country.
That done we got in a car and drove the hour or so up to Linda's place which is just short of the ALiShan tourist park. Because the road climbs almost a couple of thousand metres in that time it winds around mountains and back on itself a fair bit, with very few straight stretches, and very few 'sensible' drivers.
On the day we left 16 people died when a bus went over the edge and the roof was torn off. That was the second accident for the day, which followed a minibus doing the same trick with three fatalities. They seem to have a different idea of available room when overtaking on winding roads!
We met up with Linda's 93 year old father in law who shuffles around the place keeping himself occupied. Because their house is halfway down a mountain going to the market means a serious stroll up a serious hill to buy your meat and vegies from the travelling vendors who show up every morning on their way through to ALiShan. He walked up there one day with us and collected some more bamboo on the way back down to make chopsticks or clothes airers out of. Most of his time is spent with a bush knife whittling out a chopstick, making stakes for wasabi plants, or just making a fire which everyone else comes and joins him at. He spoke no English of course, but would say a few words of Taiwanese to me and then have a chuckle. If I managed to pick up on what he said and reply correctly, the chuckle would turn into a full on belly laugh.
Linda's boss offered to chauffeur us on a drive around the ALiShan area the day after we went for a short run up to the tourist area, didn't see a lot except a million Chinese tourists, and caught the next local bus home again.
This guy owns a wasabi plantation as well as a tea plantation, neither of them small operations, and is either related to, drinks with or knows, nearly everyone in the area. I wouldn't have a clue where we went because he wasn't long on the main road and we took a turn up, or down, a sidetrack and wound around the hills and mountains. He took us to see a town devastated by a landslide during a typhoon three years ago that wiped out most of the buidings and is still being rebuilt. They are building bridges and widening out roads again, where they can, still cleaning up from a typhoon three years prior. In some areas they don't cut into the mountain any more for access, they simply wall up the side of the hill, build a roof over the road and let the mountain come down over the top of it each time another slip occurs. Some of these are already completely closed in and have become tunnels.
Travelling with a couple of locals was especially good as we got to see a local school celebration, drink local beer and eat locally made (insert meat here ?) sausages. We got some history on the place and met some really interesting people, but none as interesting as his brother who is a coffee farmer. 
We'd (apparently) agreed to stop off for lunch at his place on the way around his neck of the woods. When we got there we were treated to a traditional Chinese-Taiwanese meal, complete with baijou. The Taiwanese variety is a lot easier to stomach though. I doubt you'd run your car on theirs! After lunch we were asked if we'd like a cup of coffee - remember this guy grows it, so he's trying to show off his wares here. 
His coffee grinder and then coffee 'machine' was something I hadn't seen before. It involved heating water in a round sealed glass bowl until it rose in to the open glass bowl above it to be blended with the ground beans before taking the flame away from under the bottom glass bowl, which then cools and allows the coffee to run down a chain in to the now cooling bowl below. It all looked like a crazy science experiment!
It was good coffee too!
The next day he loaded everyone up again to go and see some monkeys in the YuShan National Park around the mountain from ALiShan. This place is a bit higher again and regularly gets snowed in. Because of the rainy weather the monkeys were all inside drinking that good coffee trying to stay dry so we didn't see any.
Now we've decided to go and see a niece that hasn't been on the radar for a while. But it gets better, she's not long had a baby! Linda, Rowie and I all climb in a local shuttle bus and head down the mountain back to Chiayi, then train it back north to Hsinchu for the night to say hello. More catching up and heaps of photos later, we're back on another train south again to drop Linda off and keep going on to Tainan.
So it was off to Tainan to see another one of Rowie's friends that hasn't been eyeballed in quite a few years .........

 

Comments

1

Sounded like a very interesting day. I love that old man whittling away and what ia a watasi plant?

  Mum Jan 12, 2013 12:43 PM

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