What an amazing weekend I had recently with nine year old Ray, his parents, grandparents, four uncles, their wives, two little cousins and a very good friend of Grandfather. In total there were twenty one of us who traveled from Puzih City to Budai, by the Strait of Taiwan, to Fenchihu in the Alishan National Scenic Area of the Alishan Mountains.
Because this large family is so close yet a few members do not live in Taipei, they often get together for trips to just visit and spend time with each other. I was invited to join them on a luxury bus journey to the above mentioned places.
Before leaving the eastern part of Chiayi County, I got to see a huge mound of raw salt which is now only an attraction for tourists; The cousins had fun climbing, as you can see. Next, we stopped for lunch at one of the region’s largest seafood restaurants. The fish is freshly caught daily and with at least nine courses, everything I tried was delicious. Ray’s family wanted me to try a bit of everything so needless to say, I was ‘stuffed’ once we departed to continue our journey to visit a local rice growing community. We learned how the rice is grown from preparation of the soil to the harvesting of this wonderful rice and burning of the fields in preparation for the next season. Elegant Lan Li Rice is said to be the best rice in the country.
The tour bus we traveled on was pure luxury. The couple who owned the bus provided us with wonderful varieties of tea as we traveled, karaoke to sing along with and a video which featured the farmer who grew the Elegant Lan Li Rice. We actually got to meet him on our tour of the village. What a gracious personality!
After a couple of hours on the bus, we reached the My Landscape Hotel, where we would spend Saturday night. Of course, dinner was awaiting us and after another delicious multi-course meal, we walked to a nearby shopping area to see wonderful woodworks and visit a tea shop which belonged to one of the uncles’ former students. We were treated royally to all types of tea. Finally, I began to ‘fade’ and Lyn, Ray’s mother told me to select whatever I would like to have in the shop as the proprietor had said that every thing was free to us that evening. Wow! I counted 17 bags of merchandise belonging to our group. So very generous of the Uncle’s former student. I left the family still enjoying each other and the tea.
Arising early the next morning, I had hoped to see one of the famous sunrises; however, a fog hung over the mountainous area and I didn’t get to see the sun rise. Lyn told me that the Chinese feel that that is an indication that the gods want you to return another time to see the sun rise over the Alishan Mountain. A beautiful thought to remember. After breakfast, we checked out and boarded our bus for Fenchihu, which is the halfway stop to the top of the Alishan Mountain. In Fenchihu, we got to see the Alishan Forest Railway Station, walk through wonderful wooded cypress forest trails, visit a market and I had a wonderful donut which would rival Krispie Kream but the most amazing thing I felt was bamboo that appeared to be round but was actually rectangular in shape. Quite amazing.