Thoughts of a Canadian Exchange Student

Alishan (阿里山)

Posted in Culture, Food, Outdoors, Shopping, Sightseeing, Taiwan, Thoughts, Transportation, Weather by J on December 31, 2008

Alishan sunrise
Alishan (阿里山) and Chiayi (嘉義) were visited: July 7 & 8, 2008

When we arrived in Chiayi (嘉義) we had some of that famous Chiayi Chicken Rice (嘉義雞肉飯). Although the Chiayi Chicken Rice in Taipei’s Gongguan area is good, Chiayi Chicken Rice just tastes better in Chiayi XD.

Transportation to and from Alishan:

We didn’t spend long in Chiayi (but we had enough time to go shopping while waiting for our bus to Alishan XD) because we were destined to go up to Alishan (阿里山) that afternoon so that we could see the sunrise the next day. Ah, it was raining cats and dogs as we boarded the bus to go up to Alishan. A few things here: The train and bus tickets sell out quickly. If you get to the depot too late in the day, there might not be any tickets left to get up to Alishan. And, be sure to take pills if you get motion sickness. The road the bus takes up the mountain isn’t kind to those with weak stomachs.

For the fun of it, on the way back, we took the narrow gauge train from Alishan back down to Chiayi on the Forest Railway. It takes 3.5 hours and 399 NTD as compared to about 2 hours by bus and 214 NTD. I was really hoping to ride the train with the historical engine, but no cigar. On this train, we discovered that train seats could also be made to face backwards. As the train is also slower, we were able to better appreciate the drastic change in foliage due to the large change in climate from the top of the mountain to the bottom.


Our accommodations were alright, but the service more than made up for it. The young proprietor of the place was very personable. It’s a cosy little family business. For example, as we didn’t bring enough clothing for the cold weather, he lent us jackets to wear. Also, he let us try driving a scooter around the parking lot. Driving that scooter was just as fun and thrilling that I had imagined it to be =). Also, he helped us buy our tickets to ride the train to see the sunrise and, we had a wake up call at 04:30 too!

Also, it was only about 800 NTD to stay for two people. Another plus was that our hotel was located right where the bus dropped everyone off at the top of Alishan beside the 7-11 of the main parking lot. From our lodgings was only a short walk to the train station that would take us to see the sunrise early the next morning.

It’s too bad that I can’t remember his name or the name of the place we stayed at.

Alishan sunrise

Things to see:

Make sure to rush to get on one of the two trains to see the sunrise! I initially thought that we were early, but when we arrived at the station, we were actually some of the last to line up. Eek! Anyways, the sunrise was lovely, and so was walking leisurely around the top of the mountain after viewing the sunrise. The trees are twisted in some very interesting shapes. I like the heart shaped one best. The copulating (the sign really says this!) dragon and phoenix tree (龍鳳配) was just too trippy for me to see.

Ah~ I can’t help but think of how we went from a lovely sunset in Kaohsiung to a very nice sunrise in Alishan. Simply serendipity. And, that was the end of our trip visiting Tainan to Kaohsiung to Alishan.


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