Sunday, August 17, 2014

Taiwan 2014 Day 2: Sunrise at Mount. Alishan

We start our crazy adventure of day 2 (Day 1 here) as early as 3am in the morning (oh well, which means I slept for about 3 hours only). Thanks to the receptionist at Alishan House hotel, we got the wake up call and make our way to the hotel lobby as fast as possible. It's because Alishan House hotel provide complimentary drop off at the railway station for those who are going to see the beautiful sunrise. 

A piece of advice for those who would like to watch the sunrise at Mount. Chusan. Basically, you can ride the sunrise railway train up the peak or for those adventure seeking ones; hike up the hill by foot ;P (well, I bet you won't since it's freaking cold at 3am in the morning.). Do note that the sunrise railway ticket is limited to a certain amount of people. Well, there's only 2 trips of train going up the hill every morning (Thus, the number of tickets sold is based on the numbers that can fit in those 2 trains). You can start to purchase the train ticket in the evening the day before your sunrise trip at the railway station in Alishan itself. For those who are staying in Alishan House hotel, you can purchase the tickets at the reception itself. However, do tell the staff when you check in because it's limited pieces too. 

Alright, in our case; we check in at night. Thus, by the time we checked in, the tickets at our hotel reception are already sold out. Freak not, because there's some limited tickets sold at the train station itself in the morning. Well, I'm glad that we stay at Alishan House hotel because their staff will go all the way out to ensure their guest have the best time here in Alishan. Back to our story, we were the first ones to wait at the lobby for the free shuttle to the railway station. When we were down at the lobby, the receptionist who checked in for us the night before was there and he remembered us that we did not get to purchase the sunrise railway ticket. Normally, there will be a hotel shuttle bus to pick up the guests and send them to the train station. Understanding that we did not get our train tickets but other guests did, the hotel reception arranged us to stand at the entrance door first. When more guests gathered, he took the hotel van keys and straight away ask both of us to get in the van first while asking other guests to wait for the shuttle bus explaining that we had not get the train tickets. Of course, he asked some elderly guests to come into our mini van. And there we go; on the way to the train station. He drove as fast as he could (but safe of course) to bring us to the train station and even asked us to ran up the stairs to go to the ticket counter as the tickets might be sold out. 

I'm glad that we stay at Alishan House hotel because if the receptionist did not took the action to bring us to the train station first, we might not be there to see the sunrise because there's only less than 50pcs tickets left for sale when we bought our ticket. I'm really thankful to the staff of Alishan House hotel because all of them will go all the way out to ensure all their guests bring home a wonderful memory from Alishan. Alishan House hotel is your right choice of accommodation if you have some money to spare during your vacation. Unique hotel rooms with wonderful scenery (especially during cherry blossoms season where the hotel is surrounded by cherry blossoms trees) and staff that brings personal touch to all guests. A hotel with good hospitality ;)

NT150 per head for return journey to see sunrise at Chusan. 

Right after we bought the train ticket; ran (again =.=') all the way up to the platform to board the train. To your surprise, there's a sea of other guests already lining up (I was there at 4.30am btw) eagerly to board the train.

Sea of people lining up to board the Chusan sunrise train. 

Ancient train that we used to see in the movie. 

 The train departs at 5am and it took around 20 minutes plus to reach the peak; Chusan Station. Along the way, it stops at ZhaoPing station to pick up some guests. Oh well, we were squeezed between all the mainland China tourist in the train. And in fact, we were the odd one out as the whole train was filled by their citizen. Oh, and the train is full of diesel smell. Shut your sensory smell when you're in there and do shut your ears too because those other guests were freaking noisy (It's real noisy like you're haggling for prices in the market).

Chushan Station for sunrise viewing!

It was very cold, windy and dark up at the peak of Mount. Chushan. I should have brought my winter clothing along if I know it's that cold. Luckily I did not fall sick up at the peak. But it's all worth it because I came all the way up to see the first light of the day.

Sunrise of the day will be at around 6.40am. 

It's that cold up there at Mount. Chusan. 

There's some food stalls selling local delicacies and the food helps to keep your body warm under this cold weather.

Sunny toast. 

Local fishballs or meatballs?

At the peak, there's thousands of people there and you will hear an old man talking through a loudspeaker. Basically, he's explaining the wonders of Alishan forest, the Shenmu trees and of course promoting the so called Shenmu oil which has quite a long list of health benefits.

Our free "tour guide" talking through the loudspeaker

When we were there, the sky is dark and cold and we could barely see any rays of sunlight. We thought that we might not be able to see the sunrise that morning because the sky is cloudy. And at the mentioned 6.40am where it supposed to be the time of sunrise, what we see is this:

A sky of clouds. 

And there's 2 trips of railway going downhill from the peak. If you missed these 2 trips, it means you need to hike downhill as there won't be any railway coming to Chusan station till the next morning. However, there's many tourist or locals who took the train uphill and hike downhill by foot.

For us, we decided to wait and take the later railway downhill because we thought that the sunrise might be delay or so. And we're glad we waited because at about 7am, the sun is rising. Here's what we saw:

It's coming!!!

The first ray of the day!

Here's the sunrise of the day. 

We saw the sunrise of the day or so called the first light of the day. It's beautiful. It's worth it to come all the way to Alishan to see sunrise. The sunrise did not last long and within minutes, the wind blew the cloud over and the sun is covered again. However, it forms the sea of clouds. 

Sea of clouds starts to form. 

Enjoy the beauty of the "Sea of Clouds" here in Alishan! It's an amazing view that you need to see it at least once with your own eyes in life.

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After enjoying this beautiful scenery, we took the railway and went back to the main railway station. Making our way back to Alishan House hotel for breakfast ;)

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