I want to begin this post with some words about breakfast. It is obviously very different from both American and German breakfast. While coffee seems to continue it’s triumphant procession throughout the world and was available everywhere, the food itself offered for breakfast is quite different in Taiwan. I mentioned the steamed buns before (one of my favorites), and in general, breakfast is more hearty, with eggs, rice porridge, pan-fried cabbage & bean curd, that sort of thing.
Bread is a complete stranger (except for steamed buns without any filling; those could be used as some sort of roll if you’re desperate enough), and while toast was being offered (the large, white, sandwich-type, only), the only thing to put on it is either the egg, or some sort of bacon/ham mixture thing. A lot of younger folks (tourists) seemed to consume incredibly large amounts of toast every morning, with just a little bit of butter on it.
All in all, I got along, but what I really began to miss were dairy products, especially cheeses. And at some point, I had entirely lost my appetite because my body apparently was pretty confused, and didn’t know what signal it needed to send to get the nutrition it needed. I think because of that, I lost a little bit of weight.
Anyway. After another night at our cozy little cabin, and breakfast, we packed our things and checked out, then drove up the short distance to Xi Tou, the second recreational forest/park in the area. Xi Tou is definitely more touristy than Shan Lin Xi, more things to do for kids, cabins on the inside perimeter of the park that are for rent, that sort of thing.
We had already picked up a map from our hotel and plotted a nice loop that would take us to the things we wanted to see, but the array and mixture of paved roads and (again, well maintained) hiking trails was pretty confusing at first. We made a wrong turn, then corrected our mistake and went back, only to make another wrong turn – which in the end was good, because otherwise things would’ve gotten way too long on that day.
When we started it was sunny again, only a bit hazy, and our first stop – a display of all different kinds of bamboo in a hillside plantation (it didn’t leave us too impressed I must admit) – was pretty much in the open without shade, but then we entered the dense and dark forest and walking became much more pleasant. It was a bit of a pity that most of the creeks and brooks had almost no water as it was the dry season – there’s nothing like hiking through the woods with the sound of a murmuring brook or a rushing creek…
There was another typical “trailside” kitchen with some benches that we reached around noon, and it was then that the super dense fog that we had already witnesses the day before at Shan Lin Xi moved in, and once more magically transformed the forest. We continued our hike on a trail that swung far away from the main (touristy) attractions, through a very quiet part of the forest.
Quiet because people were taking naps, literally everywhere! It is apparently good practice to take a nap after lunch, and that’s what people were doing. It was really funny to witness it. Benches along the trail, platforms with wooden planks, hammocks at a playground, all occupied with people napping. 🙂
From the end of the nice forest trail we continued on a paved road to the “skywalk”, one of the attractions of the park – on a sloping hillside, a level walkway has been built into the forest, and as it stretched out we found ourselves walking amidst the tree crowns, on level with tree ferns, and looking down onto the forest floor with it’s (giant) ferns and taro leaves all around from what must have been at least 25m (~70ft) up – a really cool and unusual perspective.
The famous “University Pond” with it’s bamboo bridge was nearby, so we paid it a visit as well. We completed our loop through a stretch of bamboo forest that was really beautiful and enchanting in the fog, before reaching the parking lot with sore feet and backs, having walked ~15km (9 miles) in the area.