阿里山 - Day Two

My internal alarm clock woke me at 3:29am. I immediately heard hustle and bustle beyond the hotel door. The train was scheduled to leave at 4:40am. As we made our way to the station, the weather was showing 14°.

The sunrise was beautiful! It would have been even more spectacular if I didn't share it with 200 others. One of them being a guy with a megaphone that talked for the half hour wait. It sounded like he worked for the mountain as he was selling tour packages and some specialties like tea, wasabi and various dried fruits.

Pete and I avoided the 6:20am train that went back to the village. We had some time to kill before the buffet breakfast was offered at the hotel. The breakfast was much like the room ... disappointing. I had some tofu, but that was all I wanted to brave. I was thankful for the yummy bananas and nectarines I had brought with.

The morning was spent following the trails and signs. People seemed to be everywhere, which is always the way in Taiwan. People certainly stared at Pete and I ... it reminded me of my first year in Taiwan.

Things of note:

I was asked on two occasions to stand in a photo. I never really did understand this. How do you explain taking a picture with a complete stranger to your friends?! 'And this is a foreign girl that was there ...'

Two different families brought pet rabbits. The first one I saw was at the sunrise. The second one was on a leash in the 7-11, of course.

The family in the room beside ours decided to bring their dog as it is a perfect place for that type of pet. They left it in the room for most of the day to whine and whimper and cry. Strange.

The air was clean and smelled so fresh ... I couldn't take in enough. We stopped at a different hotel in the mountains to have some lunch. The food was simple, but fantastic. After all that walking, the beer was equally fantastic.

Leaving the hotel an hour after arriving, clouds were moving at a very quick pace. There was another hiking trail we wanted to hit, but decided to wait until the following morning. We started back toward the village. Upon arrival, the rain had started.

We spent the afternoon in our hotel. We watched TV, listened to music, devoured a bottle of red wine and laughed at nonsense.

We ventured out after the rain for some dinner. The food, again, was simply delicious. I don't remember falling asleep that night. The heat from the sun, the fresh air, the good food, the wine and beer had caught up with me.

The following morning, the last morning, would be another early start anyway ...

台北 → 阿里山

Tuesday morning, I took the 高鐵 to 嘉義 (Chiayi). The train left 台北 at 12:06, arriving in 嘉義 at 1:30. (NT860/one way) There is a connecting bus to 阿里山 that leaves at 2:10 ... this is the last bus that heads up the mountain each day.

Upon arrival in 嘉義, we were told that the bus station was a half hour away ... the same amount of time in which the bus was scheduled to leave. We quickly hopped in a taxi and told the driver we needed to catch that bus. With his pedal to the medal, he sped through every red light and got us there with fifteen minutes to spare. Unfortunately, there were no seats left on the bus. The bus company doesn't take reservations. The next available option was a taxi for NT1,600.

The taxi driver stopped for two bags of 檳榔 to get him through the long journey ... two hours to get there, two hours to get back. The road up was windy and steep. After an hour or so, he pulled to the side of the road to show us a black bear in a cage. The bear looked hot and unhappy and I was curious as to why the taxi driver was so proud of this captured bear. In my eyes, it probably isn't being cared for the way it should be and seemed rather cruel. It's funny how people see things differently.

The hotel was NT3000 per night. The internet boasted big rooms with queen size beds and a tub so that one can take a hot bath after a long day of hiking. The room was small and stuffy with cracked ceilings. There was one window that faced the hallway, not the outside. The beds could almost be considered doubles ... my feet hung off the end. The tub was more like a big basin that one would be able to sit in with their knees drawn close to their chest. Four small hand towels were in the room. We asked for bigger ones but they weren't sure they had any. Later, they brought one ... for the two of us to share, I suppose?! Hot water was only available from 5pm to 6am everyday, so we weren't overly concerned.

The late afternoon, early evening was spent wandering about. We found a restaurant, had some dinner, went back to the room with some wine and watched a TV movie. We were expecting a 3:30am wake up call which we knew would come awfully early ...

Photos coming soon ....


阿里山 - Alishan

What great little invention do we have here?

The music playing at the pool this afternoon was of a young girl singing 'Silent Night'. Please note that it's August and be reminded that it was 35° outside.

Ah ... life in Taiwan.

The next time I popped my head up for a breather, the same whiney voice was singing out 'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ...'

It motivated me to swim continuous laps for the remainder of my workout.

My friend let me try his SwiMP3 player over the weekend. It was pretty fantastic and it would have been greatly appreciated earlier today.

I'm currently searching the best and cheapest way to get me a pair. It's high on my list of things to buy!

Sunday August 17th, 2008

It's 8am and already 30°. It's going to be another hot one which means a great day to veg out at the pool. The weekend has been going by quickly and I'm sad to say that I've been exhausted for most of it. These thirteen hour work days are killing me.

Thankfully, there's only one more week of summer camp. After that, it's all about holidays! It's the first holiday in sometime where I haven't hopped a plane out of Taiwan. It'll be nice to relax and tour the island ... remind myself of why it is that I'm here.

I met with a new Chinese teacher yesterday. The class was fully taught in Chinese which felt good but it was a little bit boring. She's charging more than I want to pay and her only available time during the weekdays is 8:30am. That sounds a bit too early to be motivated. And so, the hunt continues for something that suits my desired schedule.

Looking around my apartment, I best get some things cleaned up before making my way over to the pool. If I get there early enough I can have a recliner chair for the day in which to sleep ...

Tuesday August 5th, 2008

This is part of a picture that was on the front page of today's newspaper.

It states that these four puppies were rescued by firefighters in a 台中 ditch.

Sometimes I find myself questioning where it is that I've chosen to live. Dropping innocent puppies into a place where they are rendered helpless is heartless. I mean ... who does that?

They are currently up for adoption. Anyone?