Wednesday 11 November 2015
[Spending a little over two weeks traveling with Dad to Taiwan and the Philippines.]
Today we rented bikes to ride around on some trails bordering the lake. Cycling is a pretty big draw to coming to Sun Moon Lake, and it turns out that our visit here also falls with the dates of the 2015 Taiwan Cycling Festival. What that meant for us today was we got a free 2-hour rental for bikes + a water bottle souvenir.
[As a quick aside, this water bottle had a little bear on it that I've seen all over on various signs, banners, and advertisements here in Taiwan. Come to find out this is the Taiwan "Oh! Bear," who was created by the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau and based off the endemic Taiwan Formosan black bear.]
Anyways, the ride was flat and easy for the start, but then we encountered some hills. So, just when we thought we weren't going to get much of a workout out of the deal - well, be careful what you wish for. The designated paths, are easy to follow and paved with railings on the side to keep you from going downhill into the lake. The songbirds were in fine form on the section of the trail with more dense, semi-tropical foliage. We stopped and listened at a few sections. Also, we had risen early, since we're still adjusting to the time change, but this worked well in our favor since we mostly had the trail to ourselves during the first part of our ride. Although today was hazy again, in my opinion, the cloud layer adds an additional beauty to the mountains surrounding the lake.
After returning our bikes, we caught the Sun Moon Lake shuttle bus (NT $80 for a day pass, on-and-off ticket which has stops at various locations around the lake) to the Ci En Pagoda, which was built by the former Taiwanese president Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother. From where the bus drops you off near the Xuangzang Temple, it is about a 3 minute walk (along the road) to the trail head leading to the pagoda. Then you have around 700m hiking uphill / up stairs to get to the base of the pagoda. Add climbing 9 sets of stairs, circling upwards, and you reach the top of the pagoda and a great 360 view, and you find yourself at 1000 meters above sea level [*side note - you can get a map of the lake + bus time tables from any of the visitor centers around Sun Moon Lake]
We then caught a bus to a train back to Taipei (reverse route to our Day 1 route to Moon Lake), had a quick bite at a Japanese restaurant (our waiter here didn't give us a menu, but rather asked us what we were in the mood for and then told us what to order) and called it a pretty spectacular day.