Taiwan: Aowanda National Forest Recreation(Part 2)

Travel Period : 30th Oct – 6th Nov 2012

{ This post is continued from Aowanda National Forest Recreation Part 1 }

#4: Aowanda Forest Park 森林公園

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Started getting hot with bright sun…

When we finally completed our downhill climb, we came to a bridge where the stream was flowing below it. There was some construction work going on but it didn’t hinder our journey.

There were restrooms on the other side of the bridge and we took a short rest before preparing for the uphill hike on the Forest Park; so this was where the real ‘fun’ began!

Our initial hike was fun, when we still had the energy to walk and appreciate the nature surroundings around us. Though the weather was not considered cold, it was much cooler compared to a nature trip in Singapore (say, to Bukit Timah Hill). We also appreciated the lack of mosquitoes.

As we walked on, we began to feel the tiredness on our feet as the journey was longer than we had expected. Dar was also feeling tired and asked to be carried, even after we had taken some rest at several points. I thus had to carry him on some parts of the journey.

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Cat and I were also discussing if we should be stopping and turn around, especially when she was still nursing her health back (caught a cold before the trip). In the end, we decided to persevere on since we had traveled all the way here to Aowanda and it would be a waste to just turn back without getting to the suspension bridge, where the view was supposed to be spectacular. We told ourselves that we should at least get to the Bird-Watching Platform and then decide again from there.

#5: Bird-watching Trail/Platform 赏鸟步道/平台

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Finally reached here after ONE HOUR!!!
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Bird-Watching Platform -10 min / Aowanda Suspension Bridge – Still another 25 min to reach!

So only 10 more mins to reach the Bird-watching Platform? We decided to persevere on the bird-watching trail because we really want to get to the pit-stop.




Finally, with much sweat and pairs of tired legs, we finally arrived at the Bird-watching Platform.

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Despite listing 10 min, it was a long walk along the Bird-watching Trail which had a steep slope with flight of steps (nightmare).

We passed by the restrooms and got onto a large wooden platform where many maple trees were planted on. There was also a nice wooden pavilion for visitors to rest their legs at. We were sure glad to have arrived there, like finding the oasis in the middle of the desert!

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Walking towards the fences at the edge of the platform, we had a nice view of the surrounding mountains and a stream below. On our left, we also saw our original destination — the Aowanda Suspension Bridge. Upon seeing the bridge, two conclusions immediately came to our minds: (1) We had not made a futile hike since we got to see the bridge, and (2) There was no way we were going to proceed on with the uphill climb to that bridge!

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Having made up our decision not to proceed any further, we took some photos as a proof of our ‘achievement’ and sat down in the pavilion to rest. We took our the snacks we had brought along (potato biscuits) and started munching away, since it was already past noon time then and we hadn’t ate our lunch. It sure was an enjoyable time doing what Dar termed ‘having a picnic’. ^^

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The beautiful backdrop. Wish we were right there in the middle like that person…

While we were eating, Dar noticed a small caterpillar on the floor of the pavilion and we watched it crawled onto a leaf for a while, which was a good opportunity for him to get some real-life nature lessons since he had only seen and learnt about caterpillars through books and videos.

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After enjoying the serenity of the place (there were only 1-3 other people around) with cool breeze and maple leaves falling from the numerous trees every now and then, we freshened ourselves up in the restrooms before setting foot on our path back.

This was the restroom near the Pavilion. Relatively clean...maybe there were not many visitors to the area.
This was the toilet near the Pavilion. Relatively clean…maybe there were not many visitors to the area.

#6: Maple Tree Trail 楓林步道

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The way back along the Bird-Watching Trail and Forest Park was easier since the journey consisted of mainly downhill climbs.

Along the way, we brushed shoulders with some other visitors going in the opposite direction and a few praised Dar for being able to hike with us (who was still in high spirits even though he was tired). Although he had not managed to get to our original destination of the suspension bridge and I had carried him a little occasionally, we too agreed that Dar had done a great job keeping up with us. With his shorter legs than ours, it would mean he was walking as much as twice the distance which we had covered as adults.

We soon returned to the bridge and crossed it, revealing two pathways which we could take: (1) the Strongman Slope which we had come from, or (2) the Maple Tree Trail.

Despite the longer distance for the latter, we immediately chose the Maple Tree Trail as we couldn’t imagine ourselves climbing up the long flight of steps along the Strongman Slope.

It was yet another long walk along the mostly gradual, but occasionally steep sloping road along the contour of the mountain.

From the map we were holding, we knew the path would lead us to Parking Lot 4 (we came from Parking Lot 1) and so I made a call to Mr Zheng for him to drive his cab down to this carpark.

When we arrived at the Parking Lot 4, we didn’t see any sign of him and called him again. Somehow there were two parts to this carpark and he was waiting at the other part. He then drove over to pick us up. We immediately stumbled onto our seats where we could finally rest our feet after our long walk.

We were hungry then and asked for Mr Zheng’s recommendations for lunch. He told us that with just another 15-minute drive he would be able to bring us to a nice restaurant, which we agreed. Unfortunately, we only reached his recommended restaurant 45 minutes later, which by then we were already famished. We were quite unhappy about it and regretted our decision. We should have gotten some water from the Visitor Centre in Parking Lot 1 first to quench our thirst.

The place was already very close to Cingjing so after our lunch, we set off towards there, hoping that we still have ample time to explore Cingjing before the skies were to darken.

[ RECAPS ]

Time we took from Cabin Walk to Strongman Slope (with stops and leisure strolls, read Part 1): 30 min
Time we took from Strongman Slope to Bird-Watching Platform (with rest-stops in between): 1 hr plus
Time to go back to Carpark area Lot 4: 30 min
Total Time We Were There: 3 hr

Total Traveling Time from Sun Moon Lake to Aowanda (by car): 1 hr 45 min
Overall experience (Cat):

We were not very well-prepared for the hike as we did not fully read the map to decide the best route to reach our destination. We just thought to experience all the different parts by starting from the top beside the Visitor Centre. Somehow we thought there would be multiple pathways to go to different sections of the area so we didn’t think it would be difficult to turn back.
It ended up being mostly one-way trail and the option is to go forward or retrace the steps back (which we wouldn’t be able to find out what’s awaiting us then).
We also did not anticipate the steep slopes and stairways which drained a lot of energy. The breakfast we ate at Sun Moon Lake quickly disintegrated into nothing. Luckily, we were all wearing sports trainer shoes so we did not have difficulty walking. However, I’m not sure why I had not thought of packing food for the hike. I guess I didn’t anticipate we would reach at 11.30pm from Sun Moon Lake and already close to lunch. We were so excited when arriving that we didn’t consider to eat first in the eatery at the Visitor Centre before entering the forest.

Tip: Bring lots and lots of water (we had two bottles and not really enough..was so thirsty and nowhere to refill or buy), snacks and FOOD if it’s near noontime because once you are in the forested area which is a long way from the visitor centre, there would not be anything sold. We only brought biscuits and a tidbit snack so it was not enough for three of us. There would be benches and pavilion for one to take breaks and do a picnic. 

{ Next Post : [Food] Cingjing }