Monday, 4 February 2013

Hiking in Neihu

As my time in Taiwan is drawing to a close I'm starting to feel a little sentimental about the place. I keep walking along the polluted river in Nankan on the way to work. I find that the slight detour – a mildly more attractive route than the road – provides for less stress than the chaos of the Taiwanese traffic. I decided to hike last weekend and was feeling a little lethargic about it so I didn't want to do anything too stressful which led me to stick with a relatively easy hike off the MRT system in Taipei. There are a couple of nice hikes around Taipei and some of them are great and close to MRT stations making for a really nice and convenient hike with the feel of being away from the hustle and bustle of the city while actually really being connected to it. I was supposed to be meeting my colleague Meathead and our student Rick but only Rick showed... It later turned out that Meathead had overslept after making love to his biceps rather vigorously the night before, well, either that or he was 'tired' from a hard week's work. But Rick showed and we soldiered on without him.

The hike I picked was close to the Neihu district of Taipei. The trail started at Bishan Temple – a rather beautiful temple on the hillside above Neihu with a great view of Taipei and 101 could be seen in the distance. After having a look around the temple and taking some rather good photos we headed on with the trail. The next stop was to walk through the village of Shenkeng and on to a rocky outcrop on the mountainside that led to Dragonboat Rock. The rock itself was pretty damn big and had to be crossed without the use of any ropes or anything. I pretty much did a poo in my pants and skidding along the rock on my bum I didn't stop to look back and see whether I had left a brown trail...

After crossing the rock and being told that there was no road we headed into the forest anyway and followed the dirt track which headed towards a pomelo orchard. After what felt like an hour we followed the track climbing down rocks and mud surrounded in tree roots using fixed ropes and eventually found our way to the orchard after following a dried up stream bed for a few minutes. We stumbled across a few other hikers in the orchard and they managed to point us safely in the right direction of the final stop of the hike the rather subtle but pleasant Yuanjue Waterfall. There were some pretty big rocks here too and plenty of old ladies doing Tai chi as there was access from another path that led into Dahu Park and back to the MRT line... :)

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