Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taking the logging train at Fenqihu

Tourists pose in front of the diesel locomotive and carriages just ahead of the 14.00 departure from Fenqihu (奮起湖) to Chiayi City (嘉義市) via Zhuqi (竹崎) on the century-old Alishan Forestry Railway. The narrow-gauge railroad - which was out of action for some years following 2009's Typhoon Morakot - is renowned not only for the elevation it climbs (from 30m above sea level to more than 2,200m at Alishan National Forest Recreation Area) but also for the up-close views of tropical, temperate and montane forest passengers enjoy. On weekdays, it seems, the train isn't always fully booked ahead of departure, but getting your tickets in advance (you can reserve and pay up to 14 days before you travel) is certainly a good idea; it would only take a couple of sizable tour groups to fill all five carriages.
Life of Taiwan can book tickets as part of a mountain-and-tea tour. Such excursions typically include driving from Nantou County along the New Central Cross-Island Highway. This route often provides superb views of Mount Jade and other lofty peaks. We recommend getting off at Zhuqi (sometimes spelled Jhuci; station shown in final picture), a bucolic inland town, thereby avoiding the traffic around Chiayi City and providing easy access to the scenic No. 3 Freeway. One-way from Fenqihu to Zhuqi or Chiayi City is NT$240 per person.

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