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Alishan National Scenic Area on Double Tenth

TAIWAN | Friday, 11 October 2019 | Views [103]

White-whiskered Laughing Thrush, Alishan

White-whiskered Laughing Thrush, Alishan

I WISH I COULD SAY THAT YUAN FANG Homestay was a marvelous place and the highlight of our stay in Taiwan, that it gave us true insight into life in Taiwan.  The truth is that even if we could have found it on our own, there were no signs in English that this, in fact, was the place.  The lobby looked as if we had surprised them.  The dogs wouldn't stop barking.  The place felt like summer camp and our room—two foam mattresses on the floor—was like sleeping in your sister's boyfriend's spare room on the air mattress.  One "ex-suite" bathroom had an unenclosed shower that sprayed everywhere and the drain from the sink in the other bathroom emptied onto the floor. This is one of the few times in hundreds of bookings that booking.com dropped the ball.  

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  First impressions, Yuan Fang                 Worse than Summer Camp 

But the location was good—relatively near the Alishan National Scenic Area, our goal for the day.  And scenic it is, a bit like Darjeeling, India with cloud-ringed peaks, green valleys and acres of tea.  It even has it’s own narrow-gauge railway.  Alishan is reputed to be the birding hotspot in the central mountains—and it may be so.  But yesterday was Taiwan National Day, the Double Tenth—who knew?—and everyone in Taiwan must have received the memo to meet at Alishan!  Think Fourth of July weekend at the Jersey Shore.  But instead of the 6-lane Garden State Parkway, Route 18 is two-lane blacktop of climbing switchbacks up to 2000 meters.  

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  Rows and rows of Tea                        Wreaths for Double Tenth

Despite skipping breakfast for an early start, the parking lots were full by 8AM.  We were shunted farther along the winding road and eventually snagged a roadside spot 3 km away.  We decided walking back to share the trails with hundreds and hundreds of holiday revelers wouldn’t be very enjoyable so we birded along the road with mixed success until the whizzing traffic finally sent us seeking quieter settings.  We did see a white-whiskered laughing thrush and a rufous-capped babbler, two of Connie’s wannasees, in addition to several mixed flocks of brown-throated tits, Steere’s liocichas and some white-tailed robins. 

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   Black-throated Tit                            Steere's Liocicha

When we left after a couple of hours amidst gathering fog, cars and buses headed for Alishan were backed up for five kilometers from town!  And more were still coming.


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