The mountains around us was dramatic. High and dark green, unknown subtropical trees and a vegetation so compact it would have been impossible to walk right through it.
When we got off the train at the mountain station we immediately found ourselves in the middle of a busy tourist commerce. There where souvenirs and sounds of eager vendors and so much people I had already lost hope of a nice mountain walk – were all theses people going to walk the same trace as us? In short skirts and those light shoes? After a quick lunch (rice rice and an oily bullion) we took out backpacks and left the town.
And we were alone.
Apparently 99% of the visitors never left the easiest walking track around the town.
So there we were walking, only the four of us and already surrounded by the big green leaves and in a mist so dense it sometimes was heavy to breath. The stairs under our feet were slippery, but as we climbed upwards there was no feeling of unstableness.
J and L took the lead of course. The guys carried bigger bags but still walked up with ease. Me and Hope followed some meters behind with no stress.
Now and then I had to stop just to reach out my hands and touch the big leaves around us – was this happening for real? As a Swede surrounded by all this tropical beauty, heavy mist and foreign sounds of nature it felt like a lost paradise. Some of the trees smelled fresh and I had to pluck some leaves just to see them closer.
The dark wet steps led us slowly upwards and we were all breathing heavily. Or at least I was breathing deeply, loud enough to not hear the tired breaths of the others.
At times we would meet some happy Taiwanese groups. Most of them were middle-aged and carried layers of rain coats and summer hats, but no heavy bags. They would cheer us up and try their best to speak English with us, even if we understood their Chinese well enough.
Before we knew it we had already got all the way up. Now the mist around us was thicker than ever and we could only see 20 meters before and after us. It must have been a good view from where we were standing, but we couldn’t see anything else than white and white. We took a short in a small pavilion.
Next to us we found a strange caterpillar covered in long white fur, it was probably poisonous so we didn’t touch it.
The air was heavy but peaceful. The mountain felt like if it was a world in itself, far away from reality and all its demands.
The four of us was not only four different people but also four different countries: Sweden – China – Honduras – Austria. We sang nationalistic songs for each others and spoke about demography and our respective history. We spoke about the plants we could recognize and those we never seen before: some times English wasn’t enough but we could still understand each other directly from German to Swedish.
When we started walking down on the other side it suddenly got cold and windy, still inside the fog and now also with a heavy rain. “Doesn’t it feel like skiing in heavy snowfall?” I said, but not all of you had ever tried skiing. “Actually it feels exactly like Christmas at home, it is the same temperature and this kind of rainy fog”. It is beautiful to see the word through someone else’s eyes for a little bit.
After walking up the track in just one hour (instead of the announced three hours it was supposed to take) we felt young and strong. We decided to walk back to the civilization again, and went on towards a town called Ruifang.
Walking down the mountain on an open road was convenient and we found lots of interesting trees, fruits and flowers. (And some giant spiders too.) After two hours downhill we got very tired, and decided to try to catch a taxi to get back. We had already seen so many taxis passing us while walking and some strangers even stopped to ask if we wanted a ride. But when we really wanted a lift no possibilities were to be found. We sat down at the side of the road.
Me and Hope went to knock at the door of a house nearby and asked them to help us call a local taxi company. The couple in the house said something I thought I understood completely and I said yes yes please. Hope looked at me like I was a little crazy and I didn’t know why. Apparently the lady didn’t say ” wait at the main gate and I’ll call a taxi ” but instead “wait at the main gate and I’ll drive you myself!”
Soon we found ourselves in a fancy car, tired but happy, and as the sky outside slowly got darker we approached the city. It was a 20 minutes drive and at this time we realized it was good that we had given up on walking.
Ruifang was a small town but we could still find a place to get some warm food and rest our tired feet. Two of the friends fell asleep on the table before the food arrived and I was so tired I almost couldn’t eat.
It was 8 o’clock and it would take us quite some time to go back to Hsingchu. There was no reasonable priced hotels around due to the National Holiday. What to do next?
Read the next part here.