Day 12: Sun Moon Lake – 7.4.2015
Many people come to the Sun Moon Lake just for a day trip, but we stayed there for three nights and still could have used more time. There are many attractions in the area, but today we were to take a closer look at the attractions right at the lake. First, we had breakfast at the Skylight B & B in Ita Thao Village. The breakfast is served on the top floor, and so we could eat with a Sun Moon Lake-view, which was great. We were asked before if we wanted a continental breakfast or a Taiwanese one and I chose the latter. I enjoyed the freshly cooked Taiwanese one and also came to chat with the two friendly Filipino staff. I already knew that many Filipinos work in Taiwan and it was great to talk Tagalog again and hear something about living in Taiwan. The owner also was amiable and gave us advice about our planned day tour and the many shuttle boats.
So off we went to the nearby boat pier in Ita Thao, ready for our Sun Moon Lake sightseeing day. We had bought vouchers for a day pass for the Sun Moon Lake Shuttle Boat and had to submit it for a stamp at a booth at the pier and were shown to the departure pier for the boat at 9.40 a.m.. The route of the shuttle was from Ita Thao to Shueishe (the main town at the lake) and then to Syuanguang Temple Pier. From there it would continue back to Ita Thao and so on. The boats of the Sun Moon Lake Shuttle were departing rather frequent, about every 45 minutes. We could sit outside, it was warm and sunny and so we enjoyed the boat ride and the beautiful lake.
At the Syuanguang Temple Pier it was already starting to get crowded. We followed the stairs (“Mount Cinglong Hiking Trail”) to the small Syuanguang Temple.
From the temple we followed the signs to the hiking trail, which really started at a gate nearby the temple and then lead us through the green with some viewpoints. We were nearly alone on the trail, as most of the Asian tourists just walked until they reached the temple. So it was rather serene, except one sign about a dog guarding a beetle nut plantation, where we walked along. The walk wasn’t that long, but it went upwards and it was already very hot, so we were already sweaty when we finally reached the end of the trail, the Syuentzang Temple.
We sat down for a moment, had a drink. We decided to walk to the Ci En Pagoda first and then visit the temple on the way back. We walked a few steps along the street to a branch, where the road leads up to a parking lot and also restrooms. From there the Ci En Pagoda Hiking Trail starts, that leads to the Ci En Pagoda. This trail was mostly stairs, that slowly lead further up, through the beautiful green forest. We were more sweaty when we arrived at the Pagoda.
The Ci En Pagoda was my personal highlight of the Sun Moon Lake sights. The sun was shining brightly and the radiant Pagoda looked stunning. There were barely people – no one seemed to hike up there it seemed. At the Pagoda there was also some kind of exhibition and restrooms.
Of course we had to go up the Pagoda and followed the spiral stairs, until my slight acrophobia stopped me… I was high enough however to catch some great views of the Sun Moon Lake below.
After some rest we walked back down and soon arrived at the Syuentzang Temple again. We entered it and saw some interesting statues. It is much bigger than the Syuanguang Temple and more relaxing than spectacular. It does offer more great Sun Moon Lake views.
We originally had planned to take the “Lake Tour Bus” from the Syuentzang Temple to The Wen Wu Temple. But we changed our mind and walked back down to the already crowded Syuanguang Temple Pier and used our day pass for a boat to Shueishe instead.
From the boat pier in Shueishe we made a quick walk to the Church of Christ and then finally were having lunch/dinner. I found a pizzeria, where we could sit outside and so we had Taiwanese Pizza, fries and chicken, coffee and honey-waffles… after all the walking in the heat we asked for more than we could eat, especially the waffle was surprisingly huge… it was actually all too much, so we asked them to pack it for us.
Shueishe was quite busy with many tourist groups. We watched the scenery a bit and then took another boat back to Ita Thao. I had to lay down a bit, feeling the onset of migraine attack. So I was really happy when we finally arrived, as I also was getting nauseous and didn’t want to puke on the boat…
After some rest back at the hotel in Ita Thao it was already getting dark, so we just explored the streets and some shops in the area – my friend bought black tea from the area and also tea scented Wasabi peanuts. We also observed at many shops, that wooden ashtrays with a huge phallus seem to be a novelty. Later we walked to the pier again for more long exposure photos of the beautiful Sun Moon Lake.