November 30, 2011
We woke up, checked out of the hostel, and ate breakfast. Then, we bought a round-the-lake bus ticket (80NT, get on get off) and waited a couple of minutes for the bus to arrive. We got off at Syuentzang Temple 玄獎寺. and hiked up the 560m trail to Ci-en Pagoda 慈恩塔. By the time we reached the pagoda, we were a bit tired so we decided to rest for a while. After some time, we decided to climb up to the top of the pagoda. According to some of the resources on the Internet, you can see the whole of Sun Moon Lake from up there. The view is also nice at night. We originally wanted to go there at night, but because the buses stop at around 6PM and we didn’t have our own transportation, we were not able to do so. Oh well! The view is amazing! This trip made me realize (even more?) that I love to go to a place that’s surrounded by a body of water. It’s relaxing. We stayed there for quite some time, and then we went back down to wait for the bus.
Upon arrival at the Shueishe visitor center, we bought a ticket to Checheng 車埕 (60NT, one way). We still had time to kill so we ate lunch at a nearby restaurant. We also walked around a bit and finally, we were off to Checheng. According to the Sun Moon Lake government website, Checheng is a small village close to the Mingtan Reservoir that prospered in the early days due to the reservoir and the logging industry. You can read all about it in that link up there. The main reason we went there was because of the railroad. It’s popular for having preserved the old rails and stuff, if I’m not mistaken. Plus, it’s a place full of history, and we could also take the train to Xitou 溪頭 (our other destination) from there.
Checheng is really just a small place that you can explore in a short amount of time. We walked around, looked at stuff, and took pictures. After a couple of hours, we bought the train ticket to Zhuo Shui 濁水, where we then took a bus to Xitou 溪頭. While waiting for the bus, we met this old lady who Maria found to be a bit weird, but I think she’s kind of sweet in her own way. She kept suggesting places where we could go to, and she kept saying that we should be careful and we should not allow ourselves to be fooled with overpriced rooms/transportation blah. Aww. She kept talking though, so it was a bit… draining. LOL. We got off at the last stop, and then the driver pointed us to the direction of hostels. We entered the first place we saw, and we loved the room that the owner showed us. Originally, she told us that the room cost 2500NT, but she would give it to us for 2000NT. We told her that we were students and we didn’t have a lot of money (and I think it was also a good thing that we chatted with her [talking about our stay in Taiwan, our school, etc etc]) so in the end, she gave us the room for 1500NT. Hihihi. We settled in, and then we walked around the area.
We were looking for a place to eat, but apparently, the shops close early (it was only around 7PM!) and so I ended up just eating at Family Mart. Good thing they have rice meals and stuff. Maria ate at this little noodle and tofu shop. I didn’t want to eat noodles just topped with tofu, so I decided to eat at Family Mart. It was so cold there! According to this travel brochure I have, Xitou is known to be Taiwan’s Switzerland, because it’s located high up in the mountains (although Taiwan has a lot of mountains). Sometimes, it would even snow there! I don’t really know about the accuracy of it being Taiwan’s Switzerland, but that’s what the brochure says. Haha! After eating, we headed back to the room and watched TV again! Slept after that.