Visit to Yangmingshan

[Just a quick note before you read the post. I haven’t posted for a while as things had got real hectic after coming back from India. Now it seems like the tide has moved back a little bit giving me some space to breathe. Hopefully I will be able to write more consistently to improve on my writing and also keep you guys informed that I’m still here]

Long before I started my blog, I had made my way to Yangmingshan for the first time. Unfortunately it started raining as if rain Gods had kept it on hold and the moment I got off the bus they let it go. I had nothing on me, well of course except my cloths. As I stood there, stupefied, the kind bus driver took pity on me and gave me an umbrella, light brown and white flowers painted on the top, apparently left behind by someone. I paced couple of yards out of the bus station in my desperation to find some shelter. Moments later strong winds sent the umbrella whirling down into the thickets crowded on the roadside slope. I turned around to ascertain if I had caught eye of the bus driver who gave it to me. Luckily I hadn’t. As others scurried to get under some shed to save themselves from the pouring water, I ran across the street and into the Starbucks. As expected I found it packed to the rafters as numerous people took refuge there. I ordered a latte and spent couple of hours running dry there. It looked like rain wouldn’t let up so I had no choice but to make a dash for the return bus to get back into Taipei.

Several months later I decided to see Yangmingshan again. This time I started at 1 pm from Jhongli on a Sunday afternoon, a big mistake. Loads of people decided to hop on the train for Taipei that afternoon. I had to let go of one train and wait another 25 minutes for the next one simply because I couldn’t get through the crowd before the familiar whistle for departure rang. In those next 25 minutes more people got on the platform than those who boarded the first one. But I fought my way through the crowd with success this time. It was almost 5:30 pm when I reached Yangmingshan after a rather long ride on the blue local train and a 30 minute wait for the bus at Jiantan. Already low on energy, thanks to the long hours I spent at work and the commute, I felt totally exhausted and had no mood to explore the trails. I just walked around in the thick maze in and around the bus station for 20 minutes and decided to call it a day. I still have no idea why I did that. I went there to see Yangmingshan and Taipei at night but moments after I set foot on the yellow mountain I wanted to get back to my cozy little place and cuddle up in my bed. Besides that the haze was so thick that I couldn’t see Taipei city lights. So I gave in to my lazy self and went back to Jiantan MRT station. Much to my surprise I saw a Shilin-JungLi Bus pulling into the small bus stop in front of Shilin Night market. I took my chance to get on the bus presuming “Jungli” would be JhongliI. A correct call as it turned out to be Jhongli, my home in Taiwan, in the end.

Last to last Saturday, determined to put my Yangmingshan fiascoes behind me once for all, Me along with Selina made third attempt to see beauty of Yangminshan which I had only known through pictures, I got on a MRT at Dapinglin where I was staying overnight. 13 stations later we were standing at Jiantan station. While we waited for Anurag and his wife Reena, I found this little piece of paper on “information for visitors” counter that read “Turn left at exit 1 and take red 5 bus”.

We stepped outside the station and turned left to look for Red 5 bus as advised. I saw bunch of people getting on a red bus at the bus stop. We had to make a quick dash to get in and we made it in time.

Our first stop on Yangmingshan was the same Startbucks that I took cover in on my first visit. It was almost 10:30 in the morning and I was starving. A hot Latte and a ham-cheese-puff later we were off to the next stop. We hoped on to a smaller bus this time to Zhuzihu.

Small plot of ground housed with Calla Lily flowerpots

There we came across a small plot of ground that housed numerous Calla Lily flowerpots. Lots of people made a stop there to snap a picture or two with the flowers.

After spending couple of minutes there we were clueless about the next stop so we just walked along the road. Couple of yards down the road an old lady cajoled us to visit her Calla lily flower farm. She led us through a narrow alleyway coated with black tar along a school building compound and then onto a back street at the end of which we came upon her farm.

School playground
School playground as seen from the back street

On the way to flower farm

I comforted myself with the mild breeze and walked along a narrow strip that cut through the farm midway, watching the beauty of Calla lilies as they seemed to quiver and swayed to and fro in the wind.

Calla-lily flower farm

Head over to Carrie’s My Several World for beautiful Calla Lily pictures and thorough information.

Other farms seemed to attract more people than the one we were at. For 100 NT$ one could wear the giant rubber boots, get all muddy in the farm land and gather 7 flowers to take home. As we didn’t want to carry any package with us we were just happy to watch other people enjoy taking pictures on the farm and get their bunch of flowers.

45 minutes later we were on another mini bus to Cingtiangang Visitor Center. On reaching there I occupied myself with my point and shoot camera while Anurag tried to decipher the map mounted besides the bus stop. I took some lousy pictures of less imposing edifices covered with mist.

On the way to Jyansih Waterfall

After much contemplation over several trails Anurag decided to hike along Jianboli Trail which later turned out to be an excellent decision. As what we gathered from the map, the trail was said to be about 3 KM descent from Cingtiangang visitor center to somewhere down the yellow mountain on to another bus stop. Along the trail we were supposed to come upon Jyansih Waterfall and Cingtiangang grassland. Before setting off ourselves on the trail we dutifully stuffed our backpacks with loads of chips and water.

We sauntered along a thin path occasionally covered with small puddles through an all green world. It had rained earlier in the morning but through out the walk we didn’t hit a single drop of water except some shot from the tree tops by the wind. First several hundred meters traversed on an even surface with couple of turns at random angles.

On the way to Jyansih Waterfall

Jianboli trail on Yamingshan

Silence on this less crowded path enthralled me. I realized noises of the daily grind such as the microwave buzzer, rings of office IP phones and the indecipherable conversations that follow them, “door closing/opening” messages on the elevator, occasional printer cry for “Out of paper”, buzz from the coffee brewer were left far behind me. We walked in this somewhat sombre environment mostly due to the heavy mist that brooded over the trail, content, in small passages without uttering a word for several minutes at times.

Soon we hit Jyansih waterfall. It wasn’t a great sight but nonetheless the sound of water rumbling and rustling through an uneven surface and finally crashing on the feet of a giant greenish steep rock amused us. Anurag apparently tired from the walk jumped at the opportunity to cool off his feet. He quickly took off his shoes and got into the water. Anurag amused himself with the streaming water running through the corners between the bed rocks formed at random angles and later coaxed me into getting in the rocky bed. I took off my shoes and carefully put my feet into the water. At first freaking cold water sent shivers up to my spine but then it was all fun. While wondering what it could have hidden underneath I picked my spot on a small neat rock that I expected to hold my weight which I guess it did

Bridge over a small stream

While sitting on the waterfall’s uneven surface I could see this small stony bridge with rugged looking wooden railings. Lack of light and usual limitations of my camera made it difficult to capture waterfall scenes. After a brief stop at the waterfall we resumed our journey to the next destination, Cingtiangang Grassland. Before grassland plateau which is actually off the course of main trail by 400 meters, we came upon a magnificent field. It looked like a ranch reserved for buffaloes enclosed by high wooden rails. Since the buffaloes were nowhere near the ranch we spent time taking some more pictures.
Me on the way to Chiantang Grassland

Selina
Selina catching her breath

Anurag & Reena
Anurag and Reena

I have put up a small video to let you better understand the beauty of that spot.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQFggLB9VvA]

Grassland plateau disappointed us as we found the mud brought over by the overnight rain blanketed it hiding all grass underneath it. That crushed my mid afternoon lie-down-and-live-in-the-moment fantasy. Nevertheless that 800 meter diversion was all worth.

Soon the mist took over the grassland forcing us to flee the place and rejoin the main trail. On rejoining we found the trail became a steep descent. Among several others one thing that I like about hiking most is it makes me forget all the good/bad/ugly things in the life and just focus on getting onto that next spot without crashing and tumbling down the hill. It feels like a kind of Zen meditation to me. Rest of the walk back down the mountain went in peaceful retrospection. Towards the end out of nowhere we directly came upon a civilized road, right besides a restaurant. Evidently there we saw a bus stop with a small crowd waiting for a bus. We waited for a while and then took a bus back to Jiantan MRT station.
For more pictures please check my Yangmingshan Flickr set

Published: April 22 2008

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