Saturday, July 10, 2010

竹子湖 ZhuZhiHu @ 阳明山 YangMingShan - No 竹子 Bamboo, No 湖 Lake

I swear that YangMingShan was the most frustrating point of the trip (the second most would be Jiufen- Jinguashi where we were conned by this very "sincere" taxi driver). I walked at least 10KM up, down and around this mountain.

To get to YangMingShan, we took bus 200 at the bus stop opp the Xin Beitou MRT station (we were staying at Lotus Spa at Xin Beitou at the time) and went up the mountain. Then switch to that local little bus 180 that hugs the curves of YangMingshan at a precarious speed.

First of all, let's talk about that YangMingShuWu 阳明书屋, that house that CKS had to host foreign diginitaries in YangMingshan. I thought that I would be able to see the physical house and contents. Note: if you are travelling on foot, don't waste your time, we discovered later in the afternoon, after going one more round around the mountain that you cannot visit the actual building, you get a lovely ~1km walk and a stupid building with display boards explaining what is the 阳明书屋. We boarded the bus 180 that goes an entire route around the mountain (there are other buses) and alighted at YangMingShuWu stop.

The red path depicts our walk of stupidity

This is where it becomes fuzzy. We could not see the house in the distance... then we saw this group of old people who were going to trek through the woody path near the bus stop (1.5km later, we realised we were walking alongside the road). In the morning, we did not realise that the bus travels in only one direction, and felt sure that we could always walk back to that house. Of course, 1.5 hours trek up the mountainside and into the mistakenly named 竹子湖 ZhuZhiHu, I was too exhausted to even think of walking back... I could only think of continuing upwards with the bus.

So along the slippery woody path covered with lichen, we lost the old people who were dressed in trekking gear... and upon finally reaching the top of the 1.5km 竹子湖 ZhuZhiHu point as promised by the signboards along the way, we were horrified to discover that we were at its entrance. Still, determined to see 竹子 bamboo and 湖 lake, which is something we would not see in Singapore in a natural state, we preserved on where we walked past the primary school and reached a fork in the road with a signboard that said we could go to the head of the lake, or the end of the lake... so we chose head and walk rightwards. So we walked to the right, where we encountered the awesome sight of the mountains fringed by lots of beautiful calla lilies.

Hmmm.... We continued walking, until we reached a dead end, where there were only calla lily farms. I was like, you got to fucking kidding me. Surrounded by cars (yes, most sane people drive in), I was infuriated and walked into a nearby farm and demanded of the old lady farmer, where was the fucking lake? She was incredulous.

"There is no lake here."

Win. Truth be told, when I researched on YangMingshan, I saw one or two detailed blogs, one of which was a honeymooning couple who said that YangMingshan has a lot of stops with long walks ahead and given the time before nightfall, one can only take one or two stops. Nobody said anything about 竹子湖 ZhuZhiHu, which should have been a clue.

One of the bizarre paths leading to nowhere from the ZhuZhiHu route

We stood there, reasoning on the next course of action. I swore against the voice of reason, i.e. B1, and was determined to buy some calla lilies despite the fact that we were on foot, on day 3 of our 9-day backpacking trip and we had a jolly long journey for the rest of the day. They were NT10 for each stalk.

We went in and plucked a few.

They were certainly a bitch to carry. All the way to Jiantan where the Shilin Night Market was. Haha. Good thing was, the B team never got lost. While waiting for the bus at the small bus interchange, we encountered the senior citizen mountain trekking team (turned out there were alot of them that day) again. While chatting and waiting for the bus, the pehpeh was very kind to explain that some of the sights in YangMingShan were given their names based on what used to be there A VERY LONG TIME AGO. He even wondered aloud when was Taipei was going to be swallowed, since it was on a fault line (I think?).

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