The intrepid Aimee Groom (aka DFH) is back from her own travels in Europe but the story continues as we approach Chinese New Year in MEET THE GROOMS! Think of it as China Travel Reality TV holiday special (without the TV).So, without further ado, please Meet John and Lesley Groom, the backpackers with a bus pass. In December 2008, this intrepid pair of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Anhui, Taiwan, Fujian, Guizhou and Jiangsu. >>>
Sent: Wed, January 14, 2009 9:36:25 AM
Subject: Sun Moon Lake
Real relief at finally getting away from Taipei and the threat of the Pyjama Police! Coach trip was uneventful and got us safely to Sun Moon Lake. It really is a beautiful place.
Don't laugh but we are staying in the Youth Activity Center. We think they take in old folk to help subsidize the kids. Anyway it started well. We were given the wrong key to our room but they compensated us with a couple of apples. We then had to have them explain how to use the kettle in the room and get them to give us water for it. (It turned out there was a perfectly good hot and cold water machine just along the corridor! But it’s as well to keep them on their toes!) We then couldn't get the heating to work. It cut out at 16 °C. Again we called the girl who explained the heating system/aircon did not work in the winter but found us an electric fire. Bless her! During the course of all this we realized how seriously they take this business of not wearing shoes in the house or room... they all took their shoes off to come inside!
Next morning we went for breakfast, the man must have seen us turn our noses up at the cold sliced sausage because a big bowl of hot stewed cabbage suddenly arrived. However the toast was good.
There is a beaten up old bus that goes back and forth round the lake driven by an old boy chewing Betel Nut. It is just a series of hairpin turns. He drives with one hand and is often on the phone. The front of the bus is like a cross between a living room and an office. His ID photo shows him as a smiling 18-year-old so he must have been driving the bus for years. He always waves and has befriended us and introduced us to the visitor information who have helped us plan our way out of here to Alishan Mountain. The plan involves:
1. A bus ride
2. Another bus ride
3. Then a train
4. Then another train
5. Then 3 hrs on a narrow-gauge train up the mountain
The problem is No 5. The rumors are that, there is no train, there is a train but you have to do the last third by bus, there is a train but due to a break in the track you have to get out and walk a kilometer.
The thought of walking a kilometer up a mountain railway track is frightening for someone who's fixed her rucksack on a trolley. Thank god she's not got white stilettos.
It will be a miracle if this all works.
Will let you know in due course.