The previous night was bitterly cold as the cold front greeted Taiwan and Cingjing. Thankful for the chemical warmer, we make do in Misting without any form of portable heater.
Sunrise this morning is impossible because of the rolling fog and fine drizzle. By 10am, it cleared enough for us to take the Lake Trail that originates in front of the minsu. We passed by quaint Tudor houses nestled among tea plantations, Energy House and Shangri La Minsu mere steps away from the start of the trail.
( Tea plantation trail minute from minsu )
20 minutes later, a sea of cloud greeted us at a clearing near the lake. It is green as its name implies with evidence of a prolonged drought. Clouds sloth between hills before us like those dry ice vapor seen in the bride's entrance in wedding dinners.
( Lake trail view )
Temperature edge up from 10C to 13C by 11.30am. We retraced our steps towards Guomin Guest House and went in the direction of the visitor center for sustenance. Lunch , set dinner for 2 at 600NT, was expensive at the Cingjing Farm Fusion Restaurant. It consists of lily soup, basil chicken, cabbage and meat fried with 半天花 ( tender flower stem of the 檳榔 tree ) which is absolutely delicious! It comes with 2 free ice cream, 2 free teas and 2 free pineapple tarts, these which were not necessary but we consumed anyway.
( Beef with young betel nut flowers )
We bought 1 little box of egg roll made from sheep's milk, because we were so enthralled with the gadget making it.
At the base of the visitor center, we complete our purchases for the day by buying 4 persimmons for 100NT ( crunchy and sweet ) and 1 bag of top grade HeHuanshan ChuiFeng grown Oolong tea for 600NT ( 碧绿香茗茶 ）, a princely sum for a little pouch. The money was not parted until all of us have a little tea tasting lesson with the friendly proprietor.
We chanced upon A's family and with the new troop of 5, exchanged war stories collected over the last couple of happy days in Taiwan. J led the way to a trail that oversees Swiss Garden and that saved all of us precious entrance fees and enabling a couple of hours catching up. We parted company at Starbucks and crawled up to Misting while A's family called Winlu's (http://www.winlu.com.tw/main/fac/index.php?index_mid=12) boss to bring them back to the pasture. Not before they made us salivate with photos of their little cottage, swing where they enjoyed sunset ,the sprawling playground for the 3 boys and free steamboat dinner every night at nearly the same price as our room.
3.40pm back at Misting, we had a complimentary afternoon tea ( lavender and rose ), some jellies and homemade biscuit. We bathed in the last light of the day, alfresco , and challenged the incoming clouds to swallow us up.
A leisurely day, good food, a meeting of good friends - this is one of those things that make the holiday special.