Alishan National Forest an area of approximately 415 square kilometers is located in Chiayi County. It is a resort and tourist area with good quality of mountain trail for hiking. Excellent quality of fresh air with fragrance from the famous cypresses known for this area. It is said that the fragrance has a calming effect on the nerves that it would settle the mind during the day and promote sleep during the night. I think I can attest to that.
Alishan’s climate is versatile, it can change momentary so a light rain proof jacket is recommended. It is because of this versatility, one can see a massive amount of drifting clouds, layer upon layer ever-changing making lots of wonderful picturesque scene of nature.
In addition, there are a lot of beautiful rare birds acclimatized to this area which makes Alishan a good place for bird watching as well.
In the summer, Alishan has cherry blossoms along with many wild beautiful flowers making Alishan one of the top choice for photographers. But most people come here to be infused in the cypress forest air.
It was during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan that mass logging for the precious cypress in Alishan started. The Japanese build a railway just for moving the logs down the mountain. It was estimated 300,000 yellow cypress was cut down. Therefore there is no yellow cypress in Alishan over 100 years old.
Any giant trees that are left are all of the red cypress variety. The yellow cypress was chosen over the red cypress is because the yellow cypress is solid while the red cypress has cracks inside making it not as solid and prone for disease cause by bacteria and mold. I guess sometimes imperfection is an advantage. One can see a lot of cypress grew out of the dead cypress and they call these second generation cypress. Each one of these second generation cypress has a unique form which is open for imaginations.
The Alishan Forest train left by the Japanese would take you up the mountain to greet the sun in the morning. If your lucky, you will be able to see the sunset from the top of your hotel. They can be both exuberant and beautiful.
We made a stop at Fenqihu (奮起湖) , an old town midway up Alishan where workers use to replenish their supplies. Due to the destruction by typhoons, these days, this is the last stop for trains going up Alishan. There is a museum of old trains for visitors in town. However, we stopped for the famous old railroad lunch box.
Along the way down Alishan, another good place to stretch your legs is Chukou Village. You will appreciate the stop due to the winding road of the mountain which was finished in 1980