Taiwan Day 7 – Sun Moon Lake (2b)

In the evening of day 6 we made plans for the next day. We wanted to drive all around Sun Moon Lake, and used the map to find spots along the way that would be interesting to us.

Our first stop was a little trail through the forest that led down to the lake shore and a vista platform. Since it is on a little peninsula, there’s a tiny little “lighthouse” on it. Well, that was not particularly interesting, but the walk through the forest certainly was, at least for me (I have a TON of forest photos – here are some to start with).

Our next stop was Syuanzang Temple. It contains some relics of a monk (who built it or founded it or in whose honor it was built, can’t remember) on the 3rd floor, it was possible to see them (even though there was nothing to see?!), but photography was not allowed. Also, it was necessary to take the shoes off. Wouldn’t have wanted to do that after a day of hiking. 🙂 Other than that, it was… well, yet another temple (I’m still most impressed by Wenwu Temple).

After the temple, we had lunch at the “main” village of Sun Moon Lake, where we previously started the boat tour. Also, there’s a hike to a nearby mountain (Maolan Shan), well a taller hill really, with a weather station on top that is accessible to the public. I was hoping to get some views over the lake and into the other direction as well, so once fed, we began our hike up there.

That turned out to be quite boring because, well there’s a weather station up there, so it’s a paved road leading all the way up. The first part was easy walking, the noises of the nearby village (construction mostly, really annoying) died down and it became more enjoyable… and then steep. Together with the humidity, it was yet another joyous event of pouring sweat. And at the top: no views! At least no unobstructed views. Bushes and stuff all around the weather station. Oh well.

At least the hike back down was quick and painless thanks to the paved road. Next on the map was a “Bamboo Rock Garden” – a total bummer. The area was devastated by a storm, and also right next to the road, in other words it was both unmaintained and loud. The least I would expect would be a sign saying “sorry, the area is closed due to storm damage and will be reopened on ” – it’s on a tourist map! But there was nothing to be seen there.

So, on to the next stop: the Peacock Garden. And yes, wow – I’ve never seen so many peacocks in my life! With so many of them around, one always has to show off it’s big wheel of feathers so that was taken care of, but I actually liked their funny sounds the most: it’s almost phonetically the same as the German word: “PFAU!” 😀 As I made some close-up photos of their feathers (it was possible to get really close to the birds since many of them were close to the fence) I noticed that they ALL had their wings clipped on one side. Apparently, to keep them from flying away. I didn’t know peacocks could fly (video on YouTube). Kind of sad, because it’s apparently pretty much unnecessary, as they don’t fly very far: the one in this video (YT again) is not behind any fence, in the open, and you can see that it doesn’t have it’s wings clipped. 😦

At the parking lot of the peacock garden was a little street vendor (parked right in front of the “no vending!” sign, haha!) selling oven-roasted taro and sweet potatoes, which Shuwen recommended. The taro was so dry it crumbled in my mouth, but the sweet potato was REALLY delicious. Definitely want to try doing that at home.

We headed back to our hotel to take a nap and went out in the evening to get dinner at Ita Thao village. We found a nice family style restaurant, kitchen placed right at the street (more like a pedestrian zone in that area), tables inside. It was quite large actually. The dishes were simple, down to earth, and very good. If I had to choose between the fancy “fruit dinner” from the day before and these, I’d pick the authentic family style cooking all the time. Vegetables, noodles, small amount of meat – feels very much like “how it should be”. After dinner we wandered around the village again, me making more street photos, before we headed back to our B&B for another Mau-Mau session.

All in all, a day packed with quite some activity!

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