Made in Taiwan. Fenqihu (奮起湖)

I’m feeling cold and warm. Cold from the crisp morning air, and warm because I feel so at home here. It’s a beautiful morning outside. I decide to explore this quaint little town instead of making my way to Alishan. But first things first… Breakfast.

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Breakfast is served…in the courtyard. The air is nice and cold at 17ºC. While I’m brewing my morning cuppa, I hear strains of that old hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus’ coming from the church, in Chinese. Sunday morning service in full swing. Too late for me to join in, and just as well, I’d be a bit lost anyway with the language barrier.

When I see Sister Ou later, I ask her about extending my stay for another night. Unfortunately, it’s not to be…the centre is all booked out for the day by a big group coming in later today. Well, I did tell her I was only staying for one night, and maybe that’s why they gave me a room. No matter, I’ll find an alternative. Apparently, there is a campsite down the road. So after breakfast, I decide to check it out.

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Yuesong, this only campsite in Fenqihu. No one was around when I went in to check.

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Campsite signboard. No idea what it’s trying to tell me.

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As I was walking around the campsite, I meet Mr Chuan, a hiker just emerging from the Cedar Trail behind the campsite. I asked him about the campsite and he told me it’s expensive. “Why not camp for free down the road? Come on, I’ll show you”. Well, lucky me…again.

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The campsite is actually a carpark in a cul de sac, just about 50 metres from the church. Secluded and quiet, with a public toilet just at the top of the hill behind the carpark. All the vehicles here belong to car-campers. They were very friendly and were all in agreement with Mr Chuan about camping here instead of the campsite. This was taken later in the evening when I set up my tent.

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Accommodation sorted out for the night, I’m now ready to explore Fenqihu. Sister Ou is very kind, and allows me to keep my bike and panniers at the hostel until later in the afternoon when I’m ready to set up my tent. In fact, I impose on their kindness again in the evening by taking a hot shower in the hostel. I’m blessed indeed.

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The start of the Cedar Trail is just beyond Yuesong campsite.

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The Cedar Trail, a beautiful trail with tall cedar trees and moss all around.

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Walking along the Cedar Trail, I came upon a couple I met earlier, and who are also car-camping in the carpark campsite. They tell me one of the things they enjoy doing here is to simply spend a few hours in the pavilion, drinking tea, eating sunflower seeds, and just chillin’.

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Serious tea for two…

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At the end of the Cedar Trail is the fringe of the town, so I decide to explore its streets.

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Charming back lanes

Street view of Fenqihu:

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Not surprisingly full of tourists.

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and more tourists…

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Almost every stall offers samples so… I sample all of them…from snacks to..

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to more snacks..

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to chicken feet …

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to what look like dried vegetables..

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to Taiwanese style mochi…

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…to century eggs, which are quite unlike the ones we have back home…these are tastier.

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to bean curd filled with vege and pork floss..

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well, actually, this is not free…NTD5. Quite tasty …

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The little bowl in front contain seeds from some kind of fruit that are boiled into a jelly-like drink which is very refreshing. Can’t remember what is called though…

 

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This is also what the Alishan area is known for — wasabi. Not the cheap horse-radish that’s passed off for the real thing which is this — wasabi root.

The walkabout around town done, it’s time to check out the other trails. The best part of it is, all the trails start from just outside the town. I’m particularly looking forward to exploring the bamboo forest. As I enter the trail leading into the forest, I’m surprised that it’s not full of tourists. I’m sure the steep trail has something to do with it.

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I sat here for almost an hour. It’s that absorbing. Like the couple I met, I could easily chillout for a whole day, drinking tea and eating sunflower seeds.

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Waiting expectantly to see Chow Yuen Fatt and Zhang Ziyi fly across the tops of the bamboo trees dancing lightly in the breeze…

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The railway line that used to run from Alishan through Fenqihu, all the way to Chiayi.

Tomorrow, it’s onwards to Alishan National Park.

 

 

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One thought on “Made in Taiwan. Fenqihu (奮起湖)

  1. Hi Michael, thanks for posting this. We’re planning to visit Fenqihu. But Taipei will be our base. We’ll be taking the HSR to Chiayi, and from there, a local guide will arrange ground travel for us. Our main aim is to experience the bamboo Forest in the limited time we have there (8 hours only). What we’re confused about — and what no one can tell us is — are there different kinds of Bamboo Forest trails? We know the one in Fenqihu town is called Bamboo Slope (Chuei Ju Po) and another is Square Bamboos. Is there another one going up to Rueli? If we have limited time, is Chuei Ji Po do-able, just so we could get a feel for it even if we don’t do the entire hike/trail? Thanks so much!

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