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阿里山 Alishan | Riding the Alishan Forest Railway

On a recent trip to Taiwan, we got to take a mini road trip to Alishan near the southern part of the country. After landing in Taipei, we dropped off some luggage and headed straight towards 阿里山 (Alishan / Ali mountain). We took a few food detours along the way, so it was pretty late at night when we finally made it to our hotel at 奮起湖 (Fenqihu / Fenqi lake). I was super impressed by Tiffany’s cousin’s driving skills as he navigated the narrow and winding mountain roads at night.

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We stayed the night at the Fenqihu Hotel, which we highly recommend if you are staying in the area. The room is decorated like an adorable cabin in the woods–nice, simple, and clean. The complimentary breakfast was buffet-style with porridge and other simple dishes. After breakfast, we went on a walking tour provided by the hotel. The guide was very friendly and provided us with lots of information about the town.

Even though it’s called a lake, there are actually no bodies of water in sight. The area got its name because it’s surrounded by mountains and shaped like a dustpan (畚箕). Locals called it a lake because the geography produced such an appearance, often filling with clouds and fog. Later on, people decided that the dustpan name didn’t sound nice enough, so they renamed it 奮起 (rise up).

Fenqihu is one of the stops on the Alishan forest railway. Travelers and workers often took their lunch break here, so Fenqihu became known for its railway bento boxes. In addition to some beautiful historic buildings, the town is surrounded by gorgeous forests and plenty of scenic hiking trails.

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After our morning tour in Fenqihu, we headed over to the Alishan National Scenic Area. The views were really nice as the cherry blossoms were starting to bloom. On the way out of the park, we were able to ride the forest railway!

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Everyone’s waiting for the train.

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It was such a shame that we had to rush through these places. It would’ve been lovely to spend more time on the hiking trails and enjoy the scenery some more. Next time, next time..

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