Backpacking in Taiwan – Chiayi, Alishan Mountain and Sun Moon Lake

Day 123, 26th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 22°C, cloudy and no wind. Arrived at Chiayi around 6pm and went straight to the University to meet with Lam, my Couchsurfing host for that night, a 26 years old extremely friendly Vietnamese.

Once there he took me to dinner together with his Vietnamese friends and we spent the rest of the evening talking about Vietnam. The night was spent on the floor…

Day 124, 27th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 16°C, cloudy and windy. Woke up early, rented a scooter and headed to the hearth of Formosa, Alishan Mountain National Park.
Travel tip: the bus from Chiayi to Alishan costs 234TWD each way. A scooter costs 300TWD for 24h without mileage limit… Plus it is very expensive to spend the night in the mountains, hence the one day tour.

After driving two hours up the mountains arrived at the National Park entrance. As everything else in Taiwan the Park has amazing infrastructures: every trail is paved, every tree is marked, there are tea houses and shops everywhere… but it completely ruined the sense of being in the Nature. Having that in mind and considering that the entrance fee was 300TWD (10€) I decided to skip it and did an hike that circumvents the Park and allows you to go to the “sunrise watching area” without paying.

Alishan National Park map
View from the “sunrise viewpoint”
1600 years old Cypress Tree (36m height and 10m diameter)

Afterwards drove four more hours through the breathtaking landscape of Yushan National Park all the way to another Taiwanese wonder, the Sun Moon Lake.

Monkeys on the way to Yushan
Some locals at a road checkpoint

The Lake is extremely touristic, hotels and restaurants all around, ferry boats crossing it and a ciclovia contouring its shores. Plus a handful of temples.

Sun Moon Lake map
Cien pagoda, overlooking the lake
Sun Moon Lake

The journey back to Chiayi took me another good four hours, making me arrive only at 9pm. That night stayed with Lam again.
Day 125, 28th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 23°C, clear sky and no wind. Changed host but stayed in Chiayi. The new host, Rosa, a sweet 27 years old chemical engineer, picked me up at 10am and drove me around the city showing me all the interesting spots. Then we stopped at Chiayi Park and visited the Japanese Relic Museum (heritage from the Japanese occupation) and the Sun-Shooting Tower, which depicts the aboriginal legend of the father and son that became heroes by shooting the second sun that was making the Earth impossible to live in.

Sun-Shooting Tower

Afterwards, we had lunch in a local restaurant close by: egg pudding, steamed veggies and turkey rice. And spent the afternoon chatting and chilling out at her parent’s beautiful house, where she lives. In the evening I volunteered to cook some Portuguese food for dinner, so we went to supermarket (Carrefour!) to look for ingredients, but it was impossible to find what I needed so I had to cook the chicken & peppers stew again. Rosa’s brother and mother also cooked some Taiwanese dishes, respecting the tradition of having more dishes than people on the table. Jacky, a former classmate of Rosa, also came for dinner. The food was delicious, especially the beef loin, and they loved my chicken stew so much that demanded me to write down the recipe.


After dinner we all went to the Night Market to eat desserts and play the lottery games. Once back home we went to the karaoke room and sang and had beers (flavoured beers like Taiwanese like) till late in the night. I had a lot of fun!

Having fun at the Night Market

Day 126, 29th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 23°C, clear sky and no wind. Woke late and went out for brunch. Rosa wanted to show me the typical breakfast: rice & meat pudding. Then she took me to visit the Hinoki Village, a quarter downtown that used to be the Japanese neighborhood and the center of the Japanese lumbering operations in Taiwan.

Typical breakfast
Hinoki Village

Before taking the train to my next destination: Taichung, we still had time for a fish soup dinner. 

Fish soup restaurant

It was hard to say goodbye to Rosa…such a wonderful soul…

Thanks for everything, Rosa!

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