Sunday, 29 May 2016

Taiwan Trip (Part II): When real shit happens - Cuifeng (Hehuanshan)

After a day in Taipei, we, being severely nature-deprived, got on an early bus to escape the city and head towards the heart of Taiwan, where the endless range of mountains awaits. Next up on our itinerary was Hehuanshan (Mt. Hehuan), this ranges of mountains in central Taiwan that are above 3000m but you can do one peak in a single day cos the road itself already starts around 2000m in altitude. 

It was a good 5hr+ journey from Taipei and the weather wasn't very kind to us. We though it was already bad the day before in Taipei, with all the fog and grey skies (see previous post here), but ohhhhh we didn't know better back then. Our second day started with a very grey sky, which became a heavy drizzle by noon and a full-blown fog joined the party by the time our bus ascended into the mountains.

 Let's just say. sometimes God would sprinkle just a liiiiittle few more grains of screw-ups here and there in our lives. Cos it was fun to watch. Of course, it was also to test our characters. But it's mainly due to the fun I am sure.

So anyw imagine us, these two city-dwellers who had been excitedly planning and anticipating for the entire week before, discussing and imagining the various way they would feel when they finally arrived at the mountains; so excited that despite the red-eye flight & not seeing a single moment of sunlight in the grey Taipei on the day before, their spirit was still pretty much high up in the clouds. 

And then,

we arrived. 
Have you ever got into a situation that was soooooo screwed up, that you don't even have much reaction anymore, and just like kind of speechless - not even in the shocked way, it's one level up: you are so shocked that you started to get amused of just how ridiculous things are. Well that's us, when the bus stopped us here, which was supposedly the final stop. 

Do you see Q's face here, it's practically screaming ohmygod, we are so so fucked. 

Let me give you some context of the places involved here. 
For passengers who wish to get to Hehuanshan via Taichung (ie. from the east side), the furthest buses could take you to is Cui Feng as the roads would get too narrow or winding subsequently. That was fine with us, cos we've read on another blog that said it's really easy to hitch a hike from there to Hehuanshan since they are pretty close already. 

So our plan was to take bus from Taipei to Cui Feng -> Hitch a hike to Hehuanshan -> Tent at the carpark (you can see it in the first picture) outside the Tourist Service Centre of Hehuan North peak (there's no accommodation near the North peak and that's what the guy on the blog did as well) so we could start hiking early the next morning.

While the weather got worse and worse as our bus got up the mountains, Q suggested if we should stay at the Cingjing Farm (see above map) for the night instead since it's a major tourist place with a lot of accommodation. I thought since Cui Feng was just a few km away and was actually a final stop, it wouldn't be too bad either. At least a small town with some guesthouses or smth. 

But no baby, I couldn't be more wrong. 


The checkpost hut (ie. the supposed 'final stop')
A closed fruit stall with rotten fruits on its shelves
A public toilet beside it
And two crazy wild dogs that loved to chase passing cars.

I should have believed Google Map when they gave me 'Cui Feng checkpost' when I searched for 'Cui Feng Taiwan' COS THERE'S REALLY NOTHING ELSE THERE. 

Don't ever underestimate how much worse things could be becos yes, it could. The fog got really bad, so much that we could hardly see across the road (the above photo was taken at 3pm on a Sunday unedited & unfiltered), it then started to raaaaaaaaain and all the cars were heading to opposite directions that we wanted to go cos no one in their right mind would say 'Hey let's go climb some mountains' in this weather. And no car would ever stop for us to fetch us back to Cing Jing cos we looked super creepy slowly emerging out of the thick fog along the roadside with our backpacks. 

It's as if God accidentally knocked off the entire bottle screw-ups into our day that day.

After getting over the 'what in the world are we doing here' stage, we decided to take things into our own hands. We found a garage-ish place down from the main road and decided to tent there cos there's literally NO WHERE ELSE we could go. Q said it's the best place we could do cos it's not right beside the main road (FYI tenting along a main road is dangerous as passing cars would spot you easily and ill intentions may arise from there) but yet we are close enough to get some streetlight at night. 

The above was our view from the garage

That's Q mopping outside the garage so we don't have to sleep in puddles.

The dog must be like 'dafuq is this human doing?!'

The wild dogs actually made us feel safer cos though they were around us the whole time, they dont look intimidating at all (except when chasing cars). Still, we tried to avoid taking out food in front of them cos the last thing we needed right then was hungry dogs attacking us.  

The floor was so wet that we had to put our backpacks on plastic bags, which we had stolen from the (rotten) fruit stall.

 There we were, right there outside some garage (we assumed) and under a surveillance camera. 

Think about it.
Yes we did fly out of our comfortable beds and cosy home back in Singapore.
Yes we did leave Taipei city after just one day.
Yes we did just finished a half-day long bus journey.
Yes we did imagine our holiday to be like others' (but only better), where there's fantastic view and we were just be like chillin' throughout.


is life errbady. 

So a long freezing and long night came and passed, and we crawled out of our tent ready to start another expectation-vs-reality day.  
Never fight a war on empty stomach.

We cooked some hot water for Milo (Asian's equivalent of hot chocolate, only better) and it tasted nothing short of heaven. 


Yes, God decided to reward us with some sunlight and blue skies after 2 days without it and a surreal camping experience. It was - how do I even start - an experience that even for my standard was kind of screwed up. But hahah it's always a good story to tell nevertheless.

Life moves on!