Friday, January 30, 2015

Taiwan: Sun Moon Lake

After the failed sunrise, we ate breakfast and packed up for the next adventure. We're scheduled to go out to Sun Moon Lake and our driver arrived to pick us up at the hotel. It turned out that we were the only ones so we basically got a private driver. The driver is a really cool guy and had some really funny stories. He's really knowledgeable about all the touristy things and answered a lot of our questions. He's a really smooth driver which was much appreciated on the windy mountainous road down from Alishan. I took motion sickness medicine anyway, just in case. Halfway down, we ran into a road that had recently poured asphalt so we had to wait around 10 minutes for it to finish drying before being able to drive across. This was the first of the unfortunate events of the day.

We arrived at Sun Moon Lake to find heavy fog all around us. This was the best view of the lake we got from the visitor's center:

Our tour had included a day of a hop-on,  hop-off boat rides that would have taken us between three different parts of the lake. When we got to the first hop on point, the ferry people said that there might be a chance of service suspension due to heavy fog. Our driver told us to call him if we happen to be stuck somewhere. We were supposed to have 3-4 hours on our own to explore the lake before he takes us to Puli and then to the high speed rail. We opted out of going to Puli since it seemed like a mostly industrial town and we would have just gone to see chocolate and beer factories. We thought this would give us more time around the lake. 

We hopped onto the boat and sat in some really heavy fog. The boat ride included some commentary but we really couldn't see anything that they were trying to point out. As soon as we got to the second hop off point, they suspended the ferry service. This was unfortunate because the second check point was mainly hiking up to see temples which included some scenic vista points of the lake. We figured we wouldn't be able to see any views of the lake so we called the driver to pick us up to go to the third ferry station. He was nice enough to come and pick us up. 

We got to the third station and ate some street food. We debated to stick around the area or to go up to this aboriginal themed park via gondola. We decided to go to the aboriginal village since there wasn't much to do around the lake due to the fog. So the driver once again drove us to the entrance point for the gondola. We arrived at a scene of fire trucks and ambulances. It turned out that this was their monthly emergency drill so the gondola up to the park was closed! So basically we encountered blockage of road, water, and air all in one day. The driver ended up driving us up to the theme park where we managed to get student prices for entrance. They wouldn't give us a discount on the gondola not being opened because there is another gondola service in the park itself and that's still running. 

The park itself had a mix of performances, amusement park rides (yes, there was a roller coaster and other large rides), and parts dedicated to showing the traditional houses of different tribes. 

There weren't a lot of visitors at the park and we had a lot of it to ourselves. They opened the rides just for us, basically. The driver picked us up after we were done and took us to the high speed rail station where we got bento boxes for dinner. We played a card game on the train and got into Taipei later that night.

The next day, we did a lot of the sights around Taipei, going to the Elephant Mountain, Longshan temple, CKS memorial, and eating a lot along the way. I left for the airport after we went to to Sunnyhills to eat their pineapple cake.

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