Saturday, September 22, 2007

Up in the mountains of Yangming

On September 7, our good friend Juvel called to ask if we’re free next weekend, 09/15, because her husband wanted to go Yangmingshan for a lunch picnic. Without second thought, I told her we’ll gladly join their family. We have been in Taiwan for more than two years now but we’ve never been to Yangmingshan (BTW, Shan means mountain). Our friend got their car so it would be very convenient for the two families to go out. With all excitement, my family looked forward to that outing.

When I fetched Jade the afternoon before our planned trip, I felt something different; she was warmer than usual so I asked Ate Rosie if she had fever during the day. Ate told me that she just had a warm shower so maybe that’s why seems to be warm. I talked to Jade and asked her not to get sick because this is our only chance to visit Yangmingshan. I observed her closely during the night and started to worry when her temperature was quite high. I gave her medicine before we went to sleep and sent a message to Juvel to inform her that we might not be able to make it to the trip. I woke up early the next day and realized that Jade’s temperature has decreased from last night but it still worried me. Not wanting to wake Juvel, I sent her another message to let her know that we might not really be able to go out with them and told her I’ll give her a call later. I went back to bed and then at 7am, we all woke up and were glad to see that Jade’s ok already. Dennis and I thought that she also felt our excitement and knows that we have a scheduled trip. So I went to cook our baon which I prepared last night and gave our friend a call to tell her we can finally make it to the trip.

We planned to get out of town around 10-11am. Juvel will just call us when they’re heading to fetch us from our apartment. I tried to put Jade back to sleep after breakfast so she wouldn’t be fuzzy later but she wouldn’t. Few minutes before 11am, she finally slept, so did I. Several minutes later, I heard the phone ring; I thought they were already on the way to fetch us. Fortunately, Juvel called to let us know that her daughter is also sleeping and we’ll just wait for them to wake up before we leave. We eventually left town at noontime.

The road Andrew (Juvel’s husband) took was all new to us. From Shanggong Road, we went out to central Sanzhi then up to the mountains. When the path started to appear zigzagged, we thought of its similarity with the path going up to Baguio from the lowlands. Juvel also grew up in Baguio so we had something in common. The winding road and the trees really reminded us of both Kennon Road and Marcos Highway. The more it did when the clouds started to thicken and rainshowers started to pour cooling the insides of the car that we asked the aircon to be turned off. All of us started saying wow. We passed by a nature park with a swamp and a wooden bridge but we couldn’t stop because of the rain. An ongoing bridal pictorial in the park caught our attention as well.

In an attempt to find a shaded place where we can have lunch, we reached until the highest part of the mountain (or maybe not really the highest) where we saw one shed. We parked nearby and de-loaded our stuffs but only to realize that it was very cold and even with a shed; water is getting into the place sideways. Moreover, the two men seated in the shed were wearing windbreakers and enjoying hot tea. Good thing our kids had their jackets. We headed back to the car and decided to return down to look for a better place until we went on and on and on without seeing a good place to stop. Jade even threw up. Then we passed by a place that seemed to us like Tagaytay with several Sonya’s gardens. People started to call us to stop; we didn’t because we have our own food anyway. Then when we took another road, the weather started to get better, the sun started to shine. Finally, we found another shed, on the end of that road. We checked the time and it was already 3PM. Our lunch picnic turned out to be an afternoon snack picnic. We were all famished and glad to have eaten all the food prepared. We brought pasta while Juvel cooked curry, salmon and salad. We didn’t feed the kids that much afraid that both will throw up on our way back.

I noticed a couple in their 60’s just seated in foldable seats they brought and just reading their books and exercising from time to time. I realized most of the elders do that; they go up to the mountains to relax. We saw more people coming and passing by our position. We noticed that there was a hiking path very near to our place.

After eating, we packed our things and decided to take the path. It was my family’s first time to go hiking. As Jade doesn’t fit in a carrier anymore, we had to take turns carrying her. The scent of the leaves brought us a lot of comfort. We were awed by the scenery and all we could do was wowed all that we see. Andrew got back to us saying that the best way to appreciate nature is to be silent. I almost feel ashamed but Juvel eventually said he was only kidding. We moved on and noticed red leaves along the path. Juvel started to pick some of them. I noticed that Jade was keenly observing the environment and was glad that she didn’t cry. Dennis even mentioned about saying “tabi-tabi po” or something like that but he retracted saying we’re in Taiwan and it’s not applicable. Hahaha. We stopped from time to time to enjoy nature. We took another path, this time, Chinese bamboos were around. Thenwe headed to the viewdeck, this time, the path is cemented. I was left as I was taking pictures here and there. When I tried to catch up, I took a look back to where we came from and realized that we’re in the midst of mountains. It made me miss home and my mom’s hometown Lacub in Abra. I took a few moments to reminisce our summer vacations in Lacub.

I followed them in the viewdeck and wow, the view was so great. There were several mountains surrounding us and far below, we could see the urban town of Keelung and the sites of our place Tamsui, and Bali. I kept saying wow then I heard Jade also starting to say wow from time to time. Up there in the viewdeck, there were another couple reading their books and like the older couples I mentioned earlier, they also excercised from time to time.

Being up there seeing the mountains, the trees, the rivers from afar… breathing fresh air, seeing my family enjoy… and all that brought me a natural high. I wanted to go back to that place.

When it was time to go back to where we parked, Dennis and I talked and realized that we should have gone their long time ago but then the question of how was raised. Anyhow, we were both satisfied that we had this chance to get there. On our way back, Jade asked me to carry her, since the path was uphill, I asked her to go to her daddy but she resisted. So as not to make her cry, I then carried her and Dennis told me “wow, you made it to the top with her in your arms”. I indeed up with body pain on that night.

We had a glimpse of the popular hot spring in the middle of the mountain and breathed some sulfur scent on our way passed that mountain. The clouds were already clear so we once again enjoyed the view on our way down back to town. We hoped to stop for coffee down on our way but with our kids already tired and sleeping, we decided to do it some other time.

We will definitely go back to Yangmingshan but we’ll have to figure out how to get there by taking the bus ride from Shilin.

More pictures can be found here.

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