Sleeping inside a tent, comfortably warm in a 5ºC sleeping bag on top of a Thermarest pad, with the temperature outside a nice 16ºC is very, very nice. I love days like these. A hot, freshly brewed Aeropress coffee completes the contentment.
Alishan National Park is on today’s agenda. It’s just under 40kms. No sweat.
By 9am, I’m on the road pedalling towards Shizao. The car-campers are just about to go off for their day’s hikes and on seeing me, they cheer me on as I ride past. I finally get a standing ovation. What a hoot!
Bye bye Fenqihu
Back at Shizao, I stop at the 7Eleven for breakfast #2. Looks like it’s going to be a busy Sunday.
Busy and uphill all the way…not always a good combination.
A very obese pagan god along the road…
Great views all the way.
Finally, Alishan National Park. The last 10 kms has been quite a workout…I’m pretty sure it’s 8-10% at some places.
The main entrance to the park. NTD200 entry fee. Notice the line of buses on the other side of the entrance
The contents of the buses have to be disgorged somewhere….like here. I’m not getting a good buzz about this…
Alishan National Park is not really a cycle-tourist friendly place. Bicycles are not allowed inside, which would have been great (and great for stealth-camping). The park office, however, lets me keep my panniers in a store room while I have a walkabout inside. I lock my bike on an abandoned motorcycle just in front of the 7Eleven.
The contents of the buses are making their presence felt. They’re everywhere, and I do mean everywhere…
People, people everywhere. No fun…so I decide to photograph the photographers instead.
Take 1 for this auntie shooting herself with a SLR on self-timer
Takes 2, and 3 and 4….she’s quite the perfectionist.
Cameras at the ready, waiting for the choo-choo train to pass.
As I’m walking out of the park, this hiker in full garb, catches my eye. He must have been exploring one of the many hiking trails inside the park. I’m walking behind him, admiring his getup, and it struck me that he’s as clean as a whistle.
The hotels here are very expensive. Not surprising. As I was riding up earlier, I had seen the bus parking lot that the car-campers at Fenqihu had been telling me about, and where they say I could camp for the night. It’s just about 1km from the park entrance and it looks like a great spot, especially the wooden building complete with toilets.
At around 6pm, I coast downhill to the bus park. It’s empty, and the entrance is barred with a chain across it. I ride in and see a man standing next to a white Peugeot coupe, looking intently at his phone. He’s obviously looking after the place. He’s startled to see me and I quickly introduce myself. At first, he’s not very sure about letting me stay here but relented and said ok, “You can stay here for the night, no problem”. The porch of the building is perfect for setting up camp, out of the rain, if the heavens should decide to pour out its contents tonight.
Nice, free campsite with clean toilets. It did rain later in the night…non-stop until the next morning. I am so thankful for this shelter.
My kind benefactor of the day.
Tomorrow I make my way to Sun Moon Lake, but not before a 25km climb to the top of the mountain, crossing Tatajia Pass and then all the way down to Dongpu town. It’s going to be a longish ride.