I may have been to Taiwan countless times, but apart from the last holiday 3 years ago to the 2 major cities, Taipei and Kaoshiung, as a real tourist, most of my impressions of Taiwan were from the view of clean rooms of Taiwanese semiconductor plants.
This trip is to do right that injustice that I have inflicted onto myself the past umpteen years. Alishan and Hualien bids me and with an intrepid heart, I resolved to complete what I should have done 20 years ago.
Planning got underway and after knowing the intricacies of train schedules and mountain hiking, all was derailed with the August 8th 2009 Morakot typhoon. Alishan and southern Taiwan was inundated with almost 3 meters of rain overnight, washing away all hopes of seeing the legendary sunrise or sea of clouds in the high mountains. Carpa Diem !! Why didn't I act upon that ? I suffered from the extreme disappointment of undoing my plans as well as never experiencing Alishan, wallowing in complete denial for almost a week. Recovery of the region seems impossible in the immediate future.
This is a trip of many firsts. My first budget airlines ( Jetstar ) hiking plans, sunrise .. Back to the drawing board, I will have to work around logistical difficulties. Should plans pivot around another mountain and sunrise destination ? Or hang out in Hualien Taroko region with the possibility of twirling my fingers in boredom after countless days of staring at marble?
The limitation is the endless Northern and Central part of the island. Should I hike across from Taichung to Taroko, traipsing on the crest of Hehuanshan through wintery snow? Or zip in style through the brow of Taiwan in the costly high speed rail? Or be a tourist and visit Sun Moon Lake as all tourists do?
Next, I will have to formulate, painfully, emails in Mandarin so as to get the best discount as a Chinese speaking foreigner. It doesn't come easy and I am in throes of literary agony completing my hotel reservation letter.
Amidst the formation of correspondance in long forgotten Mandarin characters with half baked hanyu-pinyu on Word, my trip takes shape and morph from nothingness to one that resembles a hiking tour. Last time I reviewed my plans, it has turned into a tour with budget thrown into the wind. Caught in the complexities of transit from place to place and the many wonderful ideas of online compatriots, I have made my Taiwan trip this December a holiday with a bit of unexpected indulgences.
This is going to be one much anticipated trip!