Saturday, December 29, 2007

Exploring Bihu, Chiayi County

Turn down a country road in Taiwan, follow it for 10-20km and more often than not you’ll come across a quaint little town, a fantastic view, a hiking trail, or some other point of interest that will make you want to stop and look around. Perhaps this is true of many countries, but what makes Taiwan special is that the countryside is both so varied, and so close at hand.

It does not matter where you are on this island, you won’t have to go far before you’re out of the city. The fact that every county, practically every township, has its own individual topography, vegetation, and agriculture, means that there is a whole world of travel not far from your doorstep. Some of these places are out of the way, and you might have to be a little adventurous to reach them; nothing too drastic though, just a case of taking an unknown road or two, and seeing where they lead you.
One such road you might want to venture down, is the one that takes you into Bihu碧湖, Chiayi County. This quiet little agricultural area is an absolute mine of gorgeous scenery and rural charm. To reach it, follow route 162 from Meishan梅山 to Taiping太平. Past Taiping you’ll come to a fork in the road, one path goes down towards Rueili瑞里, the area’s biggest travel destination, the other goes up towards Rueifong瑞峰. Take the higher road and follow it few a few kilometers until you reach another fork, again take the higher path, and you’ll be heading into Bihu.
This steep, climbing road is flanked by a mass of trees and plants; and above your head, a sea of bamboo leaves shake and shimmer in the bright blue sky. When the trees clear you’ll find yourself among vast tea plantations that stripe the surrounding hills in neat green rows.
The tarmac twists, turns, and hairpins its way up the hillside. About halfway up, you’ll find a viewing pavilion which gives a tremendous vantage point across the Central Mountain Range. When looked at across the green and ordered foreground, the great towering masses of rock seem all the more imposing, and the chasm-like drops yet more exhilarating.
At the top of the road you’ll arrive at the Bihu Mountain Tea Park碧湖山觀光茶園, one of several tea houses in the area. This is a great place to eat, drink, take in the views, or wander amongst the tea plantations.
From here the road goes off into two or three separate directions, and each of the new routes will themselves split into two or three more. You could spend days exploring this area and still never see all that it has to offer, but I’ll go back and try all the same.

3 comments:

Andy said...

I can see 3 of them out there.
Hit the one in the middle.

Andrew Crosthwaite said...

Hey Count of Monte Fisto, why are giving me a Rocky quote?

Andy said...

Due to your exploration plans
"From here the road goes off into two or three separate directions, and each of the new routes will themselves split into two or three more. You could spend days exploring this area and still never see all that it has to offer, but I’ll go back and try all the same"

Just take the one in the middle!