Showing posts with label wuling_farm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wuling_farm. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sorry. I know it's been almost a month.

I'm just...busy. I'm getting married in three weeks. In a large wedding. That we planned from the other side of the planet. A wedding on something of a budget in which huge sections that most people delegate to paid professionals...are done by us. DIY. And while B's family has been fantastic, mine have been a little on the dramaaaaatic side. I love them anyway, but it's true.

And yeeess, I took the photo above. I did not rip it out of a calendar or scan a postcard. I took that!

Just goes to show that no matter how much the Taipei basin overpopulates, and no matter how much crap fills the air from China next door (cough cough, wheeze), and now much industry blights the west coast (industry that keeps the economy humming, I know), there's a reason why Taiwan is also called Formosa. It really, truly and deeply is a gorgeous place. It's east, northeast and south coasts, islands and northern mountains along with the central mountains are absolutely stunning. No two ways about it. They say China is beautiful and in some places, it's true. Taiwan still has that beauty - I can't help but think that huge tracts of it have been destroyed in China - tumbled temples, ravaged environments and filthy ecosystems, razed meadows and forests, blanched mountains, depressing zoos, bilious rivers.

It's truly a gem of a place and it's too bad that so many people don't realize it - they think "Taiwan" and it's synonymous with "my keyboard was made there". Not with "mind-bending mountain vistas and cloud seas". Or, if they're a little more astute, maybe they associate it with Sun Moon Lake or Alishan or some such. Eh. I'm sorry, but the sheer vastness, the gut-punching raw beauty of the drive from Puli to Lishan and down to Yilan shoves those tourist-blighted spots down to pale also-rans. And yet you see so few travelers up there.

Which is good, in a sense. I have it all to myself when I go - which is every few years when I need a soul-resting break and a reminder that I am truly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Vistas like the one above are good for things like that. When you're planning a wedding - a large wedding, a DIY wedding, a nontraditional wedding, from a distance, you need that perspective sometimes.

So we rented a car - the bus is an option, but it sucks - you can't scream "WOOOO!" out the windows, play burned mix CDs, lean out the window and stop where you please to eat, take pictures or run around shouting about how beautiful it all is. We burned piles of music, grabbed the car at Taizhong HSR Station (CarPlus - recommended. Very good service though their good cars book out fast - we ended up with a Mitsubishi Colt when a Toyota Camry or Altis (Corolla) would have done better. You can return the cars elsewhere for a $1200 NT fee - we returned ours in Taipei. They do insist that you have an International Driver's Permit and they do check.

Anyway, here are some photos of our recent weekend in Lishan for you:

Farms of Lishan with Snow Mountain peaking out the top.

Drew and Emily in the creepy abandoned church.

View from the ridge just below Lishan's main town.

Side doors of creepy abandoned church.

View, I believe, from Fushoushan.

Creepy abandoned church.

One of the peaks of Hehuan Mountain. At this point I turned back toward the soaring views beyond and shouted "WOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOHOOOO!" at passing cars. A lot of people shouted back!

And no, the roads are not that safe. Drive carefully, use your horn, watch the mirrors and be prepared to brake at a moment's notice.

Clouds rolling in.

Emily at Fushoushan.

Happy folks from Tainan on a weekend trip. It is amazing, the hospitality up in the mountains - we shared tea, shared food, swapped stories and had conversations with so many people.

Books in the abandoned church.

Drew in a sniper hole at Fushoushan.

Maple leaves at our farm homestay, right outside our door, from the porch. I loved that in the evenings we could sit out there, drink tea, futz around and enjoy the cool (cool!) air.

Fruit and tea grown near Lishan. Lishan's fruit, vegetables and high mountain tea are superb.

Harvesting snow pears in Lishan.

Awwwww. Me and Brendan.

The new, less creepy, church.

This reminds me of the lyric of a favorite song, "Falling Is Like This" - One minute there was road beneath us - and the next just sky..."

Flower at Fushoushan.


"The Old England: Since 2009"

Rose after a nighttime rain in Lishan

Pears at Fushoushan.

The owner of our farm homestay - Mingxiu (明秀) - it's a kilometer down a steep hill from the top of Lishan proper, but totally worth it. Not cheap ($1500-$2000 /night for a double room with electric blanket, cable TV, hot water and other amenities in a cabin built with local wood) but the best deal in town for what you get and the lovely setting, if you ask me. The owner and his family are very friendly. Drop me a comment if you are ever interested in staying there - I highly recommend it.

More farming near Lishan.

Street food stand with the best damn view in the country.

Since 2009.

Tea at a farm stand just off Hehuanshan.

Farming near Nanshan in the Lanyang Valley.

Lanyang River Valley - after Lishan you basically head down, leaving Taizhong county and entering Yilan County. The signage is terrible once you hit Yilan.

Lanyang River Valley from the top of the mountain on the way down.
View from pagoda on the way to Tianchi lake at Fushoushan Farm about 4km up from Lishan and walkable for those hardy enough - though we drove.

Fushoushan trees.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Christmas on the Cross-Island Highway

View Approaching Lishan

For my first Christmas in Taiwan, my friend Cara and I took a trip through the center of Taiwan to see the fantastic mountains there. We started in Taizhong and took the bus to Puli, where it then headed up into the mountains along the Central Cross Island Expressay. At some point, it turned onto the Northern Cross Island Expressway as chunks of one of the highways are still in disrepair from an earthquake years ago (not to mention several landslides since).

This area is extremely beautiful, quite remote, and the ride there is enough to make even the strongest stomachs hurl their contents.

We stopped in the retired veterans' town of Lishan, north of Taroko National Park, and spent two days there at the lovely Ming Xiu Farm Homestay outside of town. To get to the hotel and back we either walked up and down steep hills or hitched rides from the very friendly locals.

On our free day we took a bus to Wuling Farm, where we wandered along the road - my back hurt too much for hiking.

It was so enjoyable that my boyfriend and I repeated the trip a year and a half later, in the spring. Unfortunately I've lost those photos due to my computer crash, so I am unable to post them here.

To take the bus across the center of the island, you can start in Taizhong or Yilan. From Taizhong the bus leaves at 8am from the Fengyuan Bus Company stop across the street and to the left of the train station. It goes to Puli and passes through the towns of Ren Ai and Cingjing Farm before reaching Hehuanshan, Dayuling and finally Lishan six grueling hours later.

From Yilan the bus leaves similarly early though I don't know from where. Buses from Lishan to Taizhong leave early, but to Yilan there is a bus at 8:30am and a bus at 1:30pm (stopping at Wuling Farm).

There are also buses theoretically available between Hualien and Dayuling, where you can pick up the Fengyuan Bus service in either direction if your timing is right. You can also - theoretically - head down into Taroko Gorge from here.

Fushoushan is on a spur, and buses there from Lishan only run during certain seasons (I'm still unclear on which ones). However, it's only 4 kilometers so it should be easy to hitch a ride up there. Our hotel's owner took us. It's uphill heading there, but you can hike downhill on your way back.

From Fushoushan, you can even see Hehuanshan in the distance. To get to the higher altitudes of Fushoushan, you can either hike uphill - it's long and arduous - or hire a car and driver for 150-300 kuai.

Hiking Trails in Fushoushan: the best hiking is near Tianchi at the higher reaches of the farm, close to the camping area. There is a long and winding trail that leads back down to the hotel complex, but start early as it's a long hike and clouds tend to move in during the afternoon.

The views in all places are stunning - the six hour bus ride from Taizhong is worth it just for the scenery.

Accommodation: high end accommodation is available at Lishan (Swallow Castle and Ming Xiu Farm Homestay - Swallow is tacky and monstrous but right in town. Ming Xiu is charming but outside town), Wuling Farm, Cingjing Farm and Fushoushan. More affordable accommodation can be found at Fushoushan for campers, and there is a hostel at Wuling Farm if you're foreign and under the age of 30 or so. Lishan also appears to have some budget choices. Dayuling certainly has a guesthouse or two, and I believe you can camp near Hehuanshan.

Ming Xiu farm hotel is my favorite but you either need strong legs or a car to get there. The address is not terribly useful, as it is only listed as being on "Song Dong Lane off the commercial road", so ask directions in town.

Other information: if you are curious about the area and can speak Chinese, visit Mr. Wang in Lishan and have a pot of traditional tea (300 kuai) at his store at #12 on the main street (Zhongzheng Road, but there's really only one street so...). If you have time, he can give good advice on getting to the far-flung tea plantations and aboriginal villages outside Lishan.
View from Lishan at Sunset

Lishan in the evening

Tudor Architecture (fake, of course) and scenery at Cingjing Farm

A Cloud Sea near Hehuanshan

Sign at Wuling Farm

Near Lishan


Wuling Farm


Xueshan (Snow Mountain) as seen from Wuling Farm

Ren Ai - in my opinion more beautiful than Sun Moon Lake