Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Family hiking in Yangmingshan Nature Trail (1st weekend of December)

Winter ambience in Taiwan was felt last month but with the weird weather, it somehow started to get warm again from time to time. We thought the chill felt earlier is the official start of a cold winter but it seems to be only a hint that it should be winter now. We're lucky that most weekends end up with a good weather much as the week starts with rain and some chills. I'd say that kind of weather without rain and scorching heat makes it a good time to go out with the family. We should take advantage of the neutral climate if I may call it that. But I guess it's more of an unpredictable weather.

Anyway, starting November, our weekends were always busy. We also made plans on how to spend December weekends. Part of the list is to visit the nearest hotspring located in Beitou which is very accessible through MRT. That plan was marked on the 1st weekend of December. One of our friends heard about this plan and she suggested that we go to Yangmingshan hotspring instead because the water up there in the mountains is better than that in Beitou. Since Yangmingshan is farther than Beitou, we thought of booking an indoor hotspring for overnight then. Another friend learned about our weekend plan as well and offerred to help us look for an affordable hotel in the mountains and have one room booked for us on any available weekend. That spared us from searching for a place to stay. She then got us booked for the 2nd weekend of December so we had to change plan for the earlier weekend. Getting tired of the city area, we opted to still visit the Beitou hotsprings just to get a picture of the place so off we went. We took the MRT from Tamsui to Beitou and transferred to another train to get us to Xinbeitou which is around 5 minutes away.

Since it was almost lunch time, we stopped in one of the stores to buy some food and headed to the path shown on the landmark. As we were about to head towards the park, I saw a bus stopped and asked hubby if he wanted to just go to the mountains instead and he immediately said "let's go!" We boarded on the bus right away. That was indeed a sudden change of plan! Without any idea of where to stop, we just decided to follow suit wherever the other foreigners in the bus get down.

We were getting farther but none of the foreign looking passengers left their seats. Then in one of the bus stops where most local people unboard, the driver exclaimed something we didn’t understand and for no reason at all, we decided to get off. Jade was already sleeping at that time so at least, the pressure to look around at where we ended was lesser. The first thing we searched for was some place to eat lunch. We saw what appeared to be a restaurant to us but to our dismay, the place was not really tidy and no one was there except us so we left the place. We followed the road and found some roadside stalls selling sausages but it was not at all what we wanted. It appeared that the big building near the park is home for the aged. We really didn't feel comfortable so we just kept on following the road. I was like wanting to argue with hubby (I think I actually did) for the decision we made but realizing nothing better can be done, we kept on walking. We met two bikers then one hiker. We saw a trail on the roadside and just took it. Then we started to appreciate what we see so we kept walking. We met several people, locals and foreigners alike and somehow, it made us feel comfortable knowing that we followed a regular trail. We passed through a river and ended up in a crossroad. We decided to take the path going right but it got us back to the road. We went back and seeing people coming from the left path, we thought the way will bring us somewhere else. We stopped for a while to look around us and at that time, Jade got up from her sleep. She may have been surprised to the unfamiliar surrounding but started to love it when we showed her the river. We took pictures and headed uphill.

We saw more people passing us by when we decided to take a rest and give Jade her noon snack (we didn't bring her regular lunch because we thought we'd find a restaurant somewhere around the place anyway). Some passersby would stare at us and mumble some words we don't understand. I think they're talking about seeing a toddler with the parents feeding her while they stop for a break - meaning us. On where we stopped was a post showing trails. We had to use our instincts as to where to go first. We figured that people coming from our right side carry food or drinks with them so we thought there would be stalls up there and right, following the path they came from led us to a major road and a busy small town actually. We saw a Catholic church as well. We were glad to see decent places to eat where we ended up eating in a restaurant that serves pasta and sandwiches. We rested for a while and enjoyed the mountain view from where we sat. As we were on the road already, I suggested to hubby that we find the bus stop and just ride back to wherever it will lead us.
He agreed but not being able to locate any visible bus stop and hesitating to ask any body we meet made us think twice as to go back to the trail or follow the road. Hubby said he still wanted to hike and enjoy the view to which I complied. We followed a trail and ended up in a very steep stairway. Oh I'm glad we're headed downhill but meeting some older hikers carrying some hiking rod or stick amazed me and reminded me of folks back home. Of course, Jade was carried all the way down. I pleaded that she sticks with her dad as much as she insisted to be carried by mommy. To stop her whining, Dennis had to run down the stairs from time to time and that made her giggling with delight. Down the way, we ended up in a flat trail and to our gladness; there was a resting area with available seats. A post there showed that wild monkeys still exist in that area and ways how to get rid of them were listed. After few minutes of rest, we continued to walk, walk and walk. Jade walked from time to time but wary of the stony path, she'd squall to be picked up. At this part of the trail, we met family with kids but not any younger than ours.

We stopped in yet another rest area that showed another post as to where the trails are leading to. We decided to take the Tianmu trail knowing where Tianmu is but not really having any idea as to what part of the town will we end up at. Not a bad decision because along the way, we saw the view of Taipei City with Taipei 101 outstanding all the buildings. To my regret thought, the sky was cloudy and I wasn't able to take a decent shot of the view. Anyhow, at least now I know where all those pictures in the internet showing Taipei City and Taipei 101 view were shot from - somewhere where we were. Again, I was glad we started from the top of the trail as it was easier to walk downhill but not until I felt pain in my toes and ankle. I was more than glad when we eventually reached the starting point of the trail - Tianmu.

We followed the road to find bus stops though we noticed that we seemed to have ended in a ghost town because we couldn't even see any single person. I bet with Dennis that we'll meet a Filipino somewhere along the way - just according to my instinct. Glad to see the main road with buses passing by, we stopped in one of the buildings entrance and let Jade take her milk. While on our rest, a lady with a big dog passed by. Dennis exclaimed something about the dog in English and the lady responded in English too so we thought she was a local. But when I spoke to Dennis in Tagalog, the lady started to talk to us in the same language. I won the bet! She worked for a foreign household - that explains why she was also talking to the dog in English, not Chinese. Thanks to her, we found out that we are in a familiar place, we're near the Catholic church in Tianmu, a place we already visited before so we already knew how to find our way back home.

Whew, we were down in town at four in the afternoon. We hiked for at least 2 hours with stopovers. On the bus, my legs started to shake. As we approached the MRT station, Jade dozed off. On the train, all three of us slept. And when we reached home, pain started to be felt from my legs up to my waist and shoulder. My, that was a great adventure but it was a wrong move not to have any stretches or light exercise before taking the nature trails. I wouldn't make the same mistake next time. Dennis was bugging me that we do visit the place again some other time and instead of starting from top, we'd head uphill. I told him back I'll not do it anymore. It would be fun though but we have to make sure we're physically ready for it and he has to make sure, Jade will be willing to be carried by daddy all the way up else, we'll wait for him on top by riding the bus.

More pictures we took on the way can be found in my multiply albums HERE and HERE.


noeds said...

My husband loves hiking!When he was still in the Philippines,he keeps on telling me how it's good to be there on top.
Nice early hiking experience for Jade but maybe she'll appreciate it more next time you go back hiking(when she's older)

lovelyn said...

Looks fun! Shows the family enjoyed the get away.

Happy New Year to you and the whole fam.

Jane said...

hello noeds,many of my former colleagues back home are addicted to trekking the mountains and i understand why.i also kind'a understand ur hubby's sentiment back i used to describe the photos in my other post, it's because of the "natural high" that you get out of it.
there'll definitely be a next time and more of it with Jade.
hi lovelyn,we did enjoy except for the body pain that resulted from the unpreparedness :) Happy New Year to you and the family too!