Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cross-Island Highway (中部橫貫公路) - Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園) - Tianxiang (天祥) - Sinbaiyang - Hehuanshan (合歡山) - Wuling (武嶺) - drive to Fanlu (番路), Chiayi (嘉義) [Travel in Taiwan 170318 (Guest Post): Around the Island in Five Days - Day 2]


Day 2 (Taroko – Fanlu):

After a simple breakfast at 7-11, we headed towards the mighty mountains of Taroko national park. It is called the “Cross Island Highway” and it is one of the most dangerous roads of the world with narrow, steep hill roads with lots of tunnels and a high possibility of broken roads and landslides. However, the views in the drive through the road are breath-taking and definitely worth the adventurous drive for a brave driver. I personally enjoyed the drive more than the scenery out there. From the entrance of provincial road 8 to tiensiang, we stopped at numerous places to enjoy the views. The marble rock mountains are one of its kind and are said to be comparable with the Grand Canyon, US. It is truly a wonder. Morever, the roads constructed in this difficult terrain is an engineering marvel by itself.                        
   





near Lotus Temple in Tiansang

The view from the cross-island highway at Sinbaiyang on the way to Hehuanshan from Taroko.


If you miss the 7-11 before the entrance of taroko road, then the next 7-11 is in tiensiang. The prices at the eateries tiensiang are overpriced. Hence, Its better to pack some snacks. After Tiensiang, the altitude gets higher and higher as you go and the climates becomes cold. A lot of beautiful mountain views await you all along the cross-island highway. Our next stop was at Sinbaiyang, where the view of mountains was really eye-catching.  At some points, the road becomes very narrow that only one vehicle can pass through. The drivers have to be careful to watch out for any oncoming vehicles through the mirrors located in corners all the time. As it was cherry blossom season, we were able to watch a lot of wild trees of sakura in the mountains.  As we continued our journey, we did not stop until we reached Acacia Hill station where the view is surreal. The place of acacia-hehuanshan-cingjing can be rightly called the Alps of Taiwan.  There is a big parking lot opposite to the hill station where visitors park their cars and walk to the hehuanshan peak. There is also a food joint and a place for travellers to cook/bbq. Further uphill, the road goes higher and higher until we finally reached the highest peak of Taiwan (accessible by road). The highest point was at  3275 metres. Hehuanshan is a truly unique place where its terran is entirely different and exists only in the acacia-hehuanshan-cingjing region. This is a must-visit place for any traveller.  Since it was already late afternoon and we still had 200 kms to do, we rushed thorugh the hill road onto freeway 10 and then freeway 3 towards Chiayi, the freeway exit for Alishan forest recreational area. 





Wuling

Day 2 : Drive to fanlu

Since it was cherry blossom season in Alishan, all the hotels were full and the few rooms which were left were overpriced. So we booked a hotel in Fanlu township, which is on the alishan mountain range, but 17 kms far from the alishan forest area. Fanlu, by itself. was a beautiful landscape with a lot of tea estates. We took the Chiayi exit at about 6.30 p.m and it was already dark and we still had 30 kms to travel on the hills. It did not seem to be distant and we thought we would reach in about an hour until we took that wrong decision to take a wrong route. We followed google maps and as always, it showed the shortest distance route instead of the main route where many cars travelled. If the maps show any road other than the main route No. 18, then DO NOT TAKE IT. We took the other road and it was so scary. The street lights were very far from one another and the road was pitch dark with narrow bends and much steeper than the No. 18 road. As we reached almost near our hotel with only 2 km more, there was a sign saying that the road was closed. Everything was in Chinese and we did not even understand the problem but we could sense this was not right as there was not a single other vehicle in that road so we took the wise decision to turn back travel 9 kms to again reach No. 18 road and continue to Fanlu again travelling 15 kms.  On the way, mist covered the entire way and visibility was less than 10 ft. It is strongly advised to travel to alishan before getting dark. We got down at Fanlu and it was as if we were walking amongst the clouds. Completely covered with clouds and mist, it felt like a heaven. We checked in the hotel, cooked some food in the hostel’s kitchen and discussed about the next day’s trip to the hotel people.  They advised to start very early by 3 a.m to go to see the sun rise and it would be a wise decision because cars were allowed until the alishan entrance in early morning. Otherwise, all passenger cars have to parked at a place 10 km before Alishan and people have to travel by shuttle buses as it was a cherry blossom festival season weekend and the number of visitors were huge in number. We went to sleep with a feeling of sleep in in heaven-like place amongst the clouds.

Maple Series


"Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei). Catch it every Wednesday at 8:00 pm (Taiwan/Philippine time)


Other attractions in Taipei


New Taipei


2018 Sakura Series - Taiwan


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    2016 Sakura Series - Taiwan


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