Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan

The Alishan National Scenic Area surrounds a mountain range on Taiwan's spine, averaging around 7000 to 8000 ft. in height.  While the Alishan economy was once reliant on logging of the giant Taiwanese cedars, it is now mainly tourist-based with huge tour buses routinely running up and down the mountain and hotels and guest houses available for overnight stays.  I stayed at a little guest house  surrounded by tea plantations near the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan.  The guest house was at over 7,000 feet so the thin air took about a day to get used to, with the first day being a hazy combination of jet lag and thin air.  It was also quite nippy at night, probably down around the 40's and 50's, which is quite a contrast from Taiwan's steamy Southern lowlands where it was running around 80F and muggy.   The guest house was, unheated, and while the thick comforters were quite warm, I managed to return home with a bugger of a cold.  Here are a few pictures from Alishan.

The roads and houses in Alishan are heavily planted with blossoming cherry trees, blanketing the entire area in bright pink!

The clouds roll in each evening and the roads and small town are covered in dense fog.  Shown here, the local police station, barely visible through the fog.

The sunset, filtered by the dense clouds, appeared as if it was the moon rising, with the suns rays just barely visible.  Also shown are the silhouettes of the neatly trimmed rows of tea, the sprinklers on risers, and a small grove of Taiwanese cypress.

One of the tea plantations, as the fog starts to roll in.  They served tea each evening at the guest house and the tea was amazingly smooth and flavorful without any bitterness nor without a lot of caffeine.  It was a pleasant treat!

A double blossoming cherry at the local tea house.

There were paper wasp nests all along the road.  Shown here, an abandoned wasp nest next to me for scale.  You can imagine what it would be like, when filled with angry wasps!

The Alishan area has long been inhabited by the original aboriginal people of Taiwan.  It has only more recently been settled by ethnic Chinese, many of whom fled mainland China as the Nationalist government fell.

Alishan is home to quite a varied number of orchid species including this, albeit not particularly showy, Liparis species.

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