Tearing around Taiwan

This was a sort of wishing wall. You threw a coin up the sculpture and the higher it stayed the more chance of your wish coming true

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By this time it was getting dark and due to logistics we had to leave the mountains for a day.

On the way down we stopped at a restaurant specialising in lamb/mutton. As you can see by the ram horns on the wall. It was all a bit fatty which seems to be the way lamb is preferred in Taiwan. The only part of the wedding meal that my wife had been unable to eat the day before was a lamb chop which was extremely fatty. I avoide dthe prawns and lobster.

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Just casually growing in the carpark was this beautiful orchid.

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We have just had the NBN fibre cable installed so a little disruption occurred, But it is now working perfectly and very quickly.

We had to make a detour to pick up my daughter in law and grandson from her family home a little out of Chiayi.

Their house is surrounded by pineapple fields

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After that we then had to make a detour top a soft toy manufacture to pick up supplies. Some were for my grandchild but one of our party also bought a few.There were three floors full of stuffed animals.

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Run away! Run away!

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This is what the back of the van looked like afterwards. Luckily it was fitted with a rear view camera on the inside rear view mirror.

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We then headed off to Alishan National Scenic Area

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It is a pretty slow climb up through rugged hills. We started off at 50 metres above sea level and ended at 2,200 metres above sea level. Again the roads were often narrow and always winding but they were well made with no potholes.

This video shows what the views were often like


The GPS is an accurate picture of much of the drive

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Where we were heading.

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Part way up

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There were lots of bridges and avalanche protection

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As we got further into the hills tea plantations became common

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As we got closer to the Alishan park centre we were driving in the clouds

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We were now at 2,200 metres
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We were going to catch a narrow gauge railway for a short trip. The station was also well into the clouds

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Part of the train at the terminus

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This was pretty much the coldest weather we experienced in Taiwan

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It was a very bumpy and shaky ride




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When the clouds lifted a bit you could see the avalanche protection on a road across the valley. Complete with signs of an avalanche on the hillside above and below it.

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We had come to see the Formosan Red Cypress

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Most of the time the years of Japanese occupation are mentioned without any great chagrin. However our guide had pointed out on a couple of occasions that they had heavily logged the cypress trees to build shrines and temples in Japan and thus severely depleted the forest stock. This sign was along the same lines.

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There were several nice boardwalks and plenty of other hiking trails there

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I must admit that it was very pleasant among the trees

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More of Alishan

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There were several loops on the line

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Back at the station there was an old steam loco in need of work

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Our train was pilled by a diesel loco

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This is a map of the narrow gauge rail system. You can theoretically take it all the way from Chiayi but apparently the line has been severely damaged by landslides and is now operating in two parts.

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There was still plenty of cloud about

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That night we stayed a little downhill at a very nice B&B operated by an aboriginal Formosan family. It is built on a very steep hill and you have to park at the top and walk down steps. Your luggage is taken down by one of the ubiquitous small light trucks.

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The more expensive rooms are at the lowest level - where we were.

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The little blue truck coming up from dropping off luggage. People with bad knees could also get an, uncomfortable lift. These things are everywhere through the hills. Apparently they all used to be 2 strokes but the newer ones now have a small 4 stroke engine - plus 4WD.

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Our room was huge

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And it had a balcony with a view. The only (slight) downside of this place was the frogs in the night and the bird chorus in the early morning.

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The dusk view

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The morning view

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The only place to eat an evening meal anywhere nearby was at the B&B. The only meal they served was a hotpot plus rice. Luckily it was delicious. My wife and I shared one and it was easily big enough for two.

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The breakfast was served at the other end of the restaurant. It was the 'normal' breakfast we had at most of the hotels - noodles, rice porridge, dumplings etc. The only Western inclusion was some self made toast.


The view was pretty good

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At night most of our group went off in search of glow-worms. I only went part of the way but still saw a few glow-worms and apparently they were no better further away. There is a look-out spot uphill a km or so which apparently gets a good view of sunrise over the mountains. A few of us, not me, was going to get up at 05:00 to go there but it poured with rain so that walk was cancelled.

The B&B at night

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Orchids

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The steep path

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More flowers

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On the way down from the mountains we went another scenic point. This time the clouds were a bit higher and we could see further.


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Tea plantations were in abundance

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A newer version of the little trucks - apparently locally made.

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There were always signs of landslides in these mountains.

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To address the elephant in the room - yes our trip was rushed. My daughter in law wanted us to see as much of her homeland as possible and our time was limited because my son runs his own business and he couldn't be away for any longer than he was. Plus of course we had a wedding in the middle. If/when we go back we will take a more leisurely approach and spend some more days at places like Sun Moon Lake and Kaohsiung.

We headed off to Tainan. That morning our grandson had developed sore eyes so we had to make a stop at a private eye clinic in Tainan. Luckily it was 'only' conjunctivitis which cleared up with use of drops in a few days. But this put us behind schedule again.

Our first tourist stop in Tainan was at the Sicao Green Tunnel. This is an area of mangroves where you can do boat rides. Most of us had seen mangroves before so it was interesting but not revelatory.


The Sicao Dazhong Temple - Taoist - was nearby

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My wife loved seeing orchids growing on the roadside trees

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The 'bamboo' raft. The seats are not the best height for me.

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We were all given 'coolie' hats and lifejackets. The water would mostly have been about hip deep.

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This short lived Dutch fortress was destroyed by a typhoon in 1656,

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After this voyage we headed into the older part of Tainan and our first stop was at the Anping Tree House. This the remnants of a warehouse built in the late 19th century that has now been overtaken by banyan trees. It was built by Tait & Co, who made their money by selling opium.


In the grounds were a few of these newer pieces of history

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The strangled warehouse

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Our final visit was to Anping Castle. It was initially known as Fort Zeelandia. It was built by the Dutch East India Company over 10 years from 1624 before being captured by the Ming Dynasty in 1662



As my wife has numerous ancestors who worked for the Dutch East India Company in Sri Lanka, Malacca and Indonesia she was really looking forward to seeing this fort. Unfortunately the Japanese had 'restored' the fort and almost nothing was left of the original structure. She was disappointed.


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One of the few original walls

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My wife and our guide ended up climbing the tower.

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@OZDUCK a nice TR when I came across this I was going to chime in and ask 'are to going to Chaiyi and if so I would suggest heading up to Alishan' but as I continued read Chaiyi was your DiL home town and you did go to Alishan. I was in Taiwan around this time last year and many of the photos you published brought back memories or had me thinking 'I have same same photo taken from around the same spot in my photo library'.
 
@OZDUCK a nice TR when I came across this I was going to chime in and ask 'are to going to Chaiyi and if so I would suggest heading up to Alishan' but as I continued read Chaiyi was your DiL home town and you did go to Alishan. I was in Taiwan around this time last year and many of the photos you published brought back memories or had me thinking 'I have same same photo taken from around the same spot in my photo library'.
We would definitely spend more time in Alishan if we get the chance.
 
After a few delays we didn't arrive in Kaohsiung until dusk. In the end we just had time for a quick walk around and a basic meal before we went to bed. The nearest night market was a few kms away.

Our hotel. The colours on the outside were changing in a continues cycle. It was very nice and the included breakfast was one of the best we had. But it was very busy with tour groups.

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We had a visitor

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Our room had an 'interior' view.

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We were on the old waterfront in a warehouse area that has been redeveloped. These old warehouses have been turned into restaurants shops etc. The city seems to have done a very good job in this area.


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The Great Harbor Bridge was only about 100 metres from our hotel. The area on the other side of the bridge housed a number of upscale restaurants but they were mostly closed by the time we were there.

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A light display on the shore

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Night views from the bridge looking towards the cruise terminal.

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The next morning was grey and eventually drizzly.

The Great Harbor Bridge in daylight

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The view was much nicer at night.

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We only had a very short time before we left so we hoped on the Light Rail to ride about 5 stations and then return.

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The ticket machines are very easy to use and have an English option. It cost about A$1 each way per person.

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The route was mostly on a separated 'green' railbed.

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There were no overhead power lines. I have used the tram system in Rheims where a power rail is buried under the roadway and the tram is powered by induction for part of its route. But the railcars on this line have battery packs that are charged up at the station. The video below shows how it works.


The railcars

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Some of the buildings near to the light rail.

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Our next stop was in the nearby city of Donggang to visit the Hua Qiao Fish Market. Now I had an attack of the vapours here - hot flushes and a bit of a nauseous feeling. However I don't believe that it was anything to actually do with markets. On the way there we had stopped for some snacks and I had bought a large bubble tea - not something I normally drink. I tried something like a coconut and lemon mixture and I think it was too 'rich' for the hot day. That was the last one I will have for quite a while.

The markets themselves were very clean and did not have a 'fishy' smell. Obviously you could smell the fish but it was a fresh fish smell and not overpowering or at all stale. And as usual the toilets were impeccably clean.

Anything that swam, wriggled, scuttled or crawled in the waters around Taiwan was for sale. More of the stallholders than I expected spoke at least basic English.

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There were numerous sushi spots

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