I am now on my sixth day going around Taiwan using only public transportation. Today I leave from Tainan Railway station and travel to Chiayi City where I will spend the night and then in the morning take the Alishan Forest Railway to Fenchihu (Fenqihu) Station.
|Map of the Alishan Forest Railway|
The Alishan Forest Railway does not continue past the Fenchihu station to Alishan. Apparently, typhoons and earthquakes have taken their toll on that part of the railway. You can continue to Alishan from Fenchihu station by the Taiwan Tourist shuttle bus that meets the train. My schedule did not allow an overnight on Alishan and I did not want to make a rush up and rush down trip, so I only went as far as Fenchihu, which surprisingly has a lot of things to do (most involve eating and hiking).
What is amazing to me is that the Railway and Taiwan government has kept this railway going. It is constantly needing repairs from washouts and earthquake damage.
|Leaving Tainan Station for Chiayi Station|
The day began leaving the excellent breakfast at the Shangri-la Far Eastern Plaza hotel in Tainan and walking across the street to the train station. Actually, you go into a tunnel that goes under the tracks so you can get to the front of the station. I had purchased my train ticket the day before when I arrived in Tainan. I did not want to buy a ticket at the last minute and risk not having a seat. It was a nice train ride up to Chiayi City passing many scenic farms.
|I saw this man playing a Guzheng in the tunnel under the tracks in Tainan station|
|At the Chiayi Station, you can catch the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle to the|
Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum
|There is good signage at the Chiayi Station, just look up!|
|The Alishan Forest Railway ticket booth in front |
of the Chiayi Train Station
|King room in Maison de Chine, Chiayi City|
I checked into my very adequate room. Time for lunch! The specialty in the area is the turkey rice bowls. Apparently, turkey was introduced to the area by early Americans stationed here. However, the good restaurant was too far to walk, so I settled for some Japanese curry about a block from the hotel.
|A small Japanese curry restaurant near the hotel|
|Price not too bad|
Next stop was the Hinoki Village. It was a cultural village with many shops. While the old building architecture was very cool, inside of the shops looked very touristy.
The next morning I got the FREE hotel shuttle to the train station. Since I checked out of the hotel and didn’t want to carry my bag on the train, I put it in the storage locker at the train station. To lock the locker, you only need to insert the minimum amount for that size locker. When you come back it will tell you what additional money you owe. SAVE YOUR RECEIPT and have the exact change ready.
|There are different size storage lockers at the Chiayi Train Station|
|The Alishan Forest Railway train is Platform 1 |
all the way down to the right
|The train car that will take me up the mountain, at least part-way|
|Inside is pretty nice, even a bathroom!|
|Alishan Forest Railway train schedule|
|Arrived at Fenchihu Station|
Visiting the Fenchihu station was like going back in time, I was picturing the railroad as it was intended back during the Japanese colonial period as a way to bring logging harvests back down the mountain. Directly in front of the train is the old workshop now turned into a small railroad museum.
|This is the workshop museum. Go through it and turn left on the road to catch the|
Taiwan Tourist shuttle bus to Alishan
|Old steam engine in the workshop museum|
If you are going on to Alishan, walk through the workshop and turn left, you will see the bus stop up the hill a little ways. Take the Taiwan Tourist shuttle bus to Alishan. Since I didn’t have time to go to Alishan on this trip, I went into the train station and bought a ticket for a return to Chiayi City.
|You have about 10 minutes to catch the bus after the train arrives|
|Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus to Alishan|
|Alishan Tourist Shuttle bus schedule|
|Finchihu Station ticket office to get a return ticket|
It was time for lunch so I went down Fenchihu Old Street and saw many people eating at this traditional food eatery. The proprietor was very busy and shouting out orders. It was obvious he didn’t speak English, but with help of some other tourists, I got a plate ordered. When a plate is good and cheap you get this very satisfied feeling. That is what I had.
|Popular lunch place!|
|Railway luchbox type of lunch|
There are many hiking trails around the village, but most are them are uphill. I did find one that was an easy hike with a great lookout over the station and Fenchihu Village. I couldn’t understand why more tourists were not here. They continued to stay around the train taking selfies while I got a great view and some peace and quiet in the forest.
|Good hiking around Fenchihu|
|Overview of the Fenchihu station|
|My train to Taichung!|
I made it safely back to Chiayi City and got my bag from the luggage locker. My next stop will be to Taichung by train so I timed everything just right so I only had a short wait at the Chiayi Station before my train to Taichung came.
All Aboard Taiwan!