Day 4 of our Taiwan trip was a perfect day in so many ways. Perfect not because of bucket list gets ticked off, not because of the Alishan sunrise, but because of the people we met and the kindness we received on the road. The downside of Alishan is it is logistically challenging; visiting without a car is downright inconvenient. Relying on public transportations was tough, but definitely doable. A sprinkle of patience, a dash of humility and an attitude of “come what may” works its wonder and magic for us! Towards the end of Day 4, I commented that it had been way easier than I thought. But bf said that my (broken) Mandarin came useful.
Rewind back to the start of our Alishan leg of the trip on Day 3, we made our way to Alishan Park from Sun Moon Lake via Yuanlin員林 Bus #6739. We stayed at Alishan Park for around 4 hours or so, and I had no regret spending that bare minimum time. The park is nice, but just that it’s a well-trodden path: I couldn’t take in the view without blocking someone’s photos and their incessant loud chatters drive me mad. We escaped the throng of visitors, and had an unforgettable evening at Xiding. That ‘feel good’ feeling continues on to Day 4, surrounding by lots and lots of people (and food) day time and peace and quiet at Anding in the evening.
If you enjoy off the beaten path as much as I do, do check out Xiding 隙頂 (approx. 27km from Alishan Park) and Anding 隙頂 (approx 2.5km from Xiding).
Xiding → Fenqihu (by direct bus Taiwan Tourist Shuttle 7322B1) → Anding (by shared van).
Bf left in the wee hours of the morning for photography, while I lazed around until breakfast time (8am). The night before, we were asked what time would we want breakfast. I decided to go along with the French family (other guests staying at the main house), so that Aunty Liu (our Airbnb host) can get things done at one time. Following her to her kitchen, I found out that she had prepared some cold dishes, and was about to start cooking other dishes. Cooking hot dishes to order – how many hosts will go that extent? As bf chose photography over breakfast, I stuffed myself silly, trying to finish the porridge with dishes prepared for 2 people. Burp.
That morning, I was feeling antsy. Switching accommodation, we needed to sort out our luggages. Not only that, I was fretting about time and transportation to Fenqihu. No direct bus, my research indicates. To get to Fenqihu (奮起湖) , we had to take a bus from Xiding to Shizhuo (石桌), and change to another bis to Fenqihu. To make things worse, there are limited buses on weekdays. How on earth would we be able to arrive at Anding early, for us to hike up the Eryanping Trail (二延平) before sunset, and yeah, a dinner plan too.
Unexpected kindness showered by our Airbnb host and our fellow lodging-mates, calmed me down.
The French family offered us a lift on their rented car, which I declined due to us heading to different direction. But we made plan for dinner in the evening, and Aunty Liu came to our rescue with transportation arrangement. She didn’t have to do that, because bf and I were officially no longer their guests after check-out .. but that amazing woman offered to pick us up from our new lodging.
Not only that, she even delivered our luggages to our new accommodation .. to save us the trouble and time. Aww ..
Explaining the move to Uncle Chen (aka David’s dad) the night before, he was understanding and despite us moving to another lodging 53 Backpackers (53旅人館民宿), they extended their hospitality to us. Genuine hospitable hosts, and I miss this family dearly.
Xiding -> Fenqihu
So, a direct bus to Fenqihu is possible, according to Aunty Liu. She checked on the bus schedule, and told us that there is a bus around 11am! Not only that, she used an app to keep track of the bus’s whereabout, and made sure that we got onto the right bus. Aww .. I miss her dearly. Aunty Liu also gave me taxi option, but I’ve forgotten the cost.
I am assuming that the bus no is 7322B1, from Chiayi TRA. For more info, Chiayi County Bus Service Administration’s bus route is here.
We got an extremely stern driver, who announced “please speak softly as courtesy to your fellow passengers.” Could be a Discipline teacher in his previous job. Haha. Needless to say, all passengers were well-behaved throughout the 30 minutes journey from Xiding to Fenqihu.
Everything is within walking distance – the bus station is just a stroll away from Train Station, and the Railway Museum is side-by-side with the Train Station/platform. We spent around 3 hours at Fenqihu, taking things slowly.
We started the trip visiting the free-entrance Fenqihu Railway Museum.
The Alishan Forest Train itself is an “attraction” by itself, but I like the old trains better.
Locker facility is available at Fenqihu Train Station – it was fully occupied though, and I overhead some visitors storing their luggages inside the staff office, FOC. Otherwise, the charge is NT$ 50 for 3 hours and maximum rental is 6 days (144 hours). They only accept coins, so do come prepared.
We’re here for food, and it was indeed great meals – like back at Itashao at Sun Moon Lake.
Baked donut (NT$ 200) – very, very nice. It’s like a do-sant (donut-croissant) version of the infamous cronut of croissant-donut. We like this A LOT … yumz!
Aiyu jelly drink – Read somewhere there is an Aiyu jelly drink stall ““Aiyu Bo E Chu” (means Uncle Aiyu’s home) tucked away in the back alley of the main area. The drink was just alright, although we were not sure whether it’s the right place.
BBQ meat – more crunchy, than meaty; unlike our bbq meat back home.
Wasabi goodies – we bought wasabi paste and wasabi pepper, recommended by a blogger. If you are a wasabi lover, must buy these local wasabi goodies!
Fenqihu lunch box (Fencihu biendang 便當)– Visitors come here for the bento, and we followed suit. There are many options, but we went looking for the “old man” bento, reportedly the originator of the bento box.
Be careful with this shop – we saw an old man picture and walked in, only to find that it is not the right place.
The bento at the right shop at Fenchihu Hotel tastes better, for sure. I think we paid NT$ 120 for the bento at both restaurants.
Fenchihu Hotel 奮起湖大飯店 御便當本店
Address: 嘉義縣竹崎鄉中和村12鄰奮起湖178-1號 Alishan Taiwan Chiayi County in the village Zhuqi No. 178-1
Tel: +886-5 256-1888
Fax: +886-5 156-1899
Fenqihu -> Anding
I misunderstood the bus schedule, and ended up joining a shared van with 2 Singaporeans. They got the van from Chiayi TRA on a cheap rate, but with agreement that the driver is allowed to pick up passengers along the way. We paid NT$ 150 per person from Fenqihu to Anding.
It was a smooth ride to Anding, and we were dropped off at Anding bus stop.
The info I have gathered is all in Chinese – if you are planning for a trip to Fenqihu, do get someone to translate the schedule for you.
Accommodation: 53 Backpackers is conveniently located just across the bus stop. Our bags were waiting at the reception when we arrived. Pretty easy check-in process. More info on my stay at 53 Backpackers in my previous blog entry here.
Eryanping Trail trek: We went up the Eryanping Trail around 4pm and had the trail pretty much to ourselves. Such a nice peaceful walk versus Alishan Park. The trail is straightforward – no guide is required.
The start of Eryanping trail – pretty easy walk with proper stairs installed.
The trail is well-maintained – and super easy to walk. We even found toilet there, amazing!
We were warned that it might get pitch dark, so we came down around 6pm. Even though we didn’t get to view sunset, I thought that the misty views made better pictures!
Dinner at Xiding: Aunty Liu of David’s House arranged for a Chinese dinner at a nearby restaurant – we ordered Ginseng chicken soup, some vege, etc .. This dinner is made possible by Aunty Liu, who came to Xiding/Eryanping Trail to send us to the restaurant. And she also sent us back to 53.1 Backpackers after dinner, before heading back to David’s House with her French guests.
Our Alishan trip ends the next day, and we were sent off by Alishan’s breathtaking cloud sea (云海) .. stay tuned …