Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 9: The Shrouding Mist of Alishan...

~ 22nd March 2014~
Anyone who has been to Alishan would have the chance to watch the formation of the mist starting at an hour before noon around 12p.m. Just take your eyes off from the smartphone screen and start taking in your surrounding. You will be amazed by what you see.
At the break of dawn, we were witnessing a natural phenomena which we would never see in our own home countries. My travel buddy and I were from two different countries. So, we were gawking at clouds like we've never seen clouds before. It's different from looking from outside the plane and it's different if you're looking from the window of your bedroom. It's definitely different looking at the sea of clouds. By late noon, you will not be able to see the sea of clouds anymore. Instead, you can see that the clouds are disintegrating. Mind my wrong usage of words. I have no words to explain all this.
The clouds started leaving each other. One by one, they started to float away from the crowd.
You see that? I think we took this while sitting around outside Alishan Gou Hotel. We had nothing to do and there were benches for people to sit around and just enjoy the view. There were a few Westerners who were asleep on the bench. There were more people making their way up to the mountain. It's a huge crowd. It's so huge I think the population of tourist in Alishan exceed that of the local villagers.
Fancy going to a foreign country just to look at clouds. You must have thought that there's no clouds in my country ground. We must have nothing better to do at that point of time. Actually, yeah... we totally have nothing to do. We just sat there and while away our time waiting for the shuttle to ferry us to the station down below to wait for another van to take us down to high speed rail station. I even recorded the shrouding mist so that we get to have that feel once again when the weather is too hot.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 9: Alishan's Scenic Train Ride...

~ 22nd March 2014~
It was cold. Really cold. But I like it cold. I think it felt less than 10-degree Celsius with the chilly wind blowing. We decided to take the slow scenic ride to the station down below.
The station was almost deserted. We were three odd travelers going against the flow of human traffic. Almost all if not most of the tourists would take the scenic ride from the station. That's what normal people would do and there you would find the crowd that make your head reel and before long, you felt so suffocated that you wanted to vomit. So, it's good that the wooden nicely renovated station was deserted. Just hope that we were not standing on the wrong platform or worse, the wrong stop.
Finally, the train arrived and it was packed like sardine in a can. Who's that lady photo-bombing us from the inside of the train? Very creative that lady~! *applause* How on earth were we to get onto the train? And once the slow motion train burst its door open, the humans just spilled out like a tube of lotion crossing the sea in high altitude. They just burst out and before long, we had the whole entire train to ourselves. Serious~! Whole train with so many coaches just for the three of us~!!!
We could take our own sweet time to decorate ourselves on the train. It's a scenic ride, not a bullet train ride taking people to work. It's just one slow ride. From the outside when we first arrived, we were thinking how could anyone board such slow train. In the end, we were on board that train ourselves.
The smell on the train was actually very bad. It smelt like instead of ferrying tourists, the scenic train has been ferrying salted fish. The muskiness was so bad it's a good thing that the windows were opened. We wished the train would go faster then at least there's some good ventilation in the belly of the slow poke train. After being excited having the whole train to ourselves, we became bored.
There were so many people queuing to board this scenic ride. Then, we started to speak our thoughts out loud. We refused to get off the train and join the queue to board the train to take us back to where we started. And we have no strength to walk all the way up and elbowed our way around with so many people who were busy moving one step and stopping to take multiple photos then walked another one step and stop. It was too tiring for the uphill climb.
Some blurry moving photos that I took. It was really boring that I didn't bother to set the manual option properly. I just took one and tried to enjoy the scenic ride. There were trees and more humans, trees and more and more humans. More humans... and humans... and humans....
Finally, when we arrived at the station, Pinky went down to speak to the conductor regarding our plight not to join the crowd to purchase our tickets. While she went away, mi mama and I stayed in the train. I muttered a short prayer that Pinky would find favour in the eyes of the conductor. Prayer answered within a few minutes. We were allowed to purchase the tickets directly and before they released a sea of humans into the train for the ride up, we had the opportunity to take as many photos of us and the red train as we wanted. 
We hugged the train, touched the train and did all sorts of funny things with the train. When the humans started to fill up the belly of the coaches, we went to take our seats. I think we gave up our seats for the children and elderly. Such is the way in Taiwan. Give up your seats~! But not so in Hong Kong and China. The Hongkies are not courteous at all... not courteous at all... even in China some passengers would get up and gave their seats to the elderly but not Hongkies.... I'll tell you when I meet one in future who would gave up the seat for mi mama, I will rejoice about it~!

Day 9: Blossoming Spring in Alishan...

~ 22nd March 2014 ~
We were done having breakfast in Alishan Gou hotel. We wanted to crawl back to sleep but we were on holiday. Spending whatever time sleeping didn't sound right at all. So, we packed up our stuff so that when it's time to leave, we could just grabbed our stuff and go. We went loitering around Alishan Gou Hotel. Definitely, there was no mistake at all staying there.
I couldn't really remember where was this bridge at. The view of 'Salem High Country' was superb. The sky was blue as the shrouding mist has not make it's way over yet. That's my travel buddy which I will be meeting soon. 
After looking at so many flowers, we totally had no idea what kinda cherry blossoms were we looking at. I should study more on plants next time before any spring trip or it would really be a torture needing to ask around. Shouldn't the authorities put up sign to state the name of those plants? Oh, even if it's written in Chinese, would not make any different to me. Please write in the international language to cater to the international tourists. If I'm not mistaken, that's the Somei Yoshino, or just known as yoshino cherry. It's a Japanese kind of cherry blossom. It's white in colour with red in the middle. I'm not giving any botany lesson here. Just thought that one should be more equipped with such knowledge of just saying that everything is blossoming tree is cherry blossom up in Alishan.
This is by most the most famous kawazu-zakura blossom. The famous sakura that everybody wants to see. It's pink in colour and from a bird's flight view zone, the pink will be amazing. We didn't have much of that like what you will get to see in Japan. Maybe we should all pack our luggage and go to the land of the rising sun to experience the blossoming sakura instead. We have anticipated that we would bankrupt ourselves in Japan by eating round the clock. Both of us loved Japanese cuisine to the max~!
Another picture of the pinky sakura. I love the shade of pink very much. 
That bell-shaped blossoming tree was more attractive according to my eyes. The pink was of a darker shade, almost to red. That's kanhizakura, another type of cherry blossom that can bloom during the cold winter. I think it's waiting for us to go there as we were there in the beginning of spring time. No close-up photos of that as the tree was beyond our reach. Those were the three that we met in Alishan. Quite a good experience spending so much just to look at blossoming flowers and sea of clouds and cypress trees. If I'm a Taiwanese, I wouldn't bother at all to look at such things.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day 9: Alishan Gou Hotel...

~ 22nd March 2014 ~
There are many hotels and minsu in Alishan but sad to say we didn't get to book any that we like. We ended up with Alishan Gou Hotel and if you've read the earlier post regarding the lunch that we had there, it was really good.
It's not such a bad hotel after all even though there's neither elevator nor escalator. You will have to lug your own luggage to whichever floor that you're staying without the help of a bellboy. We got our room in the first floor and we literally dragged our luggage and stuff up. 
We toured our room in less than 30 seconds. After staying in several minsu in Taiwan, you have to be aware of the mattresses used. If you are one person who enjoys doing back bouncing on the mattress, I can assure you that if you do that on Alishan Gou hotel's bed, you will be paralyzed forever, breaking every bone in your spine. We believe that the mattresses were made of the rocks from the mountain itself. And a gentle reminder to all future guests in this hotel, no pillow fights. It will leave you and your friends in very bad concussion. The mattress is harder than that made of coconut husks. Ain't the room neat? The sink water was icy cold though.
The moment we slid open the balcony door, a gush of wind turned our neat room into this.  In less than 5 minutes, we successfully turned the room into our nest. We were comfortable sitting in such room. We cannot survive in a room too neat.
The moment we reached the hotel after failing to chase after the sun, we went to the restaurant of the hotel downstairs. Our stay there was inclusive of a breakfast meal. The food was really simple, no such thing as Western breakfast, no sausages, omelette or even soft-boiled eggs with toast. We were so hungry we could eat anything.
I had three helpings of this simple yet ultra delicious fried vermicelli with pork floss. The taste was so good it must be because of the soy sauce used or whatever hidden methods they have.
Pinky's love for porridge was completely satisfied with this totally empty porridge with half of a salted duck's egg. We do love rich food but sometimes, we enjoyed attacking the simple yet delicious food painstakingly prepared. It's not easy to prepare these simple dishes.
The pork floss bun~! Aaaaaaaaa.... I feel like making steam buns soon... coming soon... In conclusion, you should pick a stay in Alishan Gou Hotel, no regrets, superb food and I'll show you the surrounding later. It's strategically placed, too... not out of the way at all.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 9: Along Jade Mountain Scenic Highway...

~ 22nd March 2014 ~
After being upset for not being able to view the sunrise, the van driver took us to view the thousand year old tree. On the way down the hill slope, the view became more beautiful because the sun has risen and it's obviously brighter then when we were going uphill.

We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea where we were and it's quite funny how other passengers were so eager to stop and take a look at the monkeys walking along the highway. I was not keen to look at the monkeys as I can always go to the Botanic Gardens and jump around like a monkey myself. Since we were just standing there and not doing anything, I entertained myself with my camera.
The other passengers kept on saying that those Formosan Rock Monkeys were adorable. Excuse me, which part of the monkeys were adorable? They're plain scary. They looked fierce and that baby monkey has those eerie stares.  After going through at least 10 pieces of monkey photos, I dare to conclude that they are scary indeed. They are evil and definitely not adorable. After the rest of the passengers have enough of monkeys, we went back to the van. 
The van driver may be in a rush but since he realized that I'm an avid snap shot crazy, he decided to let us down at one of the scenic highway bends. The view of the sea clouds were better from the two earlier spots.
How could you resist this? If there's a bench by the roadside, we will be there sitting and not going anywhere. Just looking at those thick moving clouds, I do not have the proper adjective to explain how it really feels. It's just like you're looking at something in awe.
I like this mountainous view with the fluffy moving clouds. It's the best view compared to Taipei, looking at buildings and more buildings. In the end, I have no regrets having to wake up so early.
Finally, we came to that thousand year old tree. Just snap a pic or two as prove that we were there. Dunno what's the hoohah that it's a must to visit this tree. How do you really know that the tree is really a thousand years' old? The walk down was okay with the wooden steps but the walk back up to the main road was a killer one. I detest walking on steps after going to Taiwan.
The tree got the best view of all. The thousand years old tree was looking out at the sea of clouds every day. So jealous of that tree. No need to wake up early. *yawn*

Monday, March 09, 2015

Day 9: Alishan's Sea of Clouds...

~ 22nd March 2014 ~
The day I crawled out of bed at 4:15a.m. to brush my teeth and wear a few layers of clothing, tumbled down the staircase and waited for the van to come pick us up. Other passengers were made to walk all the way to the train station to be picked up. I whispered a prayer of thanks to God for giving us first class treatment. It was really far to walk, whichever hotel you are staying. The hill road was bumpy and instead of slowing down, the van driver accelerated at every bump and we bounced on our seats like a few sacks of potatoes waiting to be sent to the morning market. We were not going to the morning market. We were just chasing after the sunrise. Yeah... I'm mad enough to go to another country to chase after the sunrise when I can actually watch sunrise 5-minute drive away from my house and I have yet to do so.
There's another hotspot to view sunrise but if the fog was too thick, you would be just wasting your money, time and energy. We were at Shishan along the Yushan Scenic Highway. The place where we were standing was good enough. We did not need the sun to rise to cheer us up. We were elated to watch the sea of clouds. Imagine jumping into the sea of clouds thinking that it's water. I'm actually tempted to jump but it would only spell death one way or another. I took quite a number of photos until I realized that it was the same thing so in the end I just stood there and captured the beauty through my own naked eyes. For a person who has never witness such wonderful daily scene, it was really beautiful. I have no words to describe how in awe I was.
After standing for I don't know how long, the van driver asked us to go to the van. He said there's another better place to catch the sunrise. We went bumping all the way like sacks of potatoes again. Bumped all the way uphill until the van stopped somewhere in the middle of the highway.
There's another group of tourists from mainland with a tour guide. We 'borrowed' the tour guide but as usual, I wasn't listening. I did some filtered listening and heard that we might not be able to view the sunrise as the clouds were too cloudy. That's where I started praying like I have never prayed before. I was very desperate to view sunrise because we sacrificed our precious sleep just for this. Immediately after that, the cloudy clouds started to move really fast and the clear blue sky appeared. But there was one massive cloud which was blocking the sunrise view altogether. 
You know the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds when you could the orange colour in the horizon. The massive cloud refused to budge faster. In fact, it slowed down to the speed of a sloth. I prayed harder and I knew it would appear soon but sad to say, the van driver asked us to go to the van as he has to fetch another group of tourists after dropping us to another place. A place to view a thousand years old tree. We went there to view sunrise, not to look at a freaking thousand years old tree. We were upset. I was really upset.
You see those massive clouds blocking the direct view of the sun rising? If only the van driver could wait for a few more minutes. We had been standing there for almost an hour. A few more minutes wouldn't kill. We missed the sunrise due to the impatience of a man. Same story as why our world is in such a state now due to the impatience of Sarai to wait upon the Lord to bless her and Abraham with Isaac.
The sea of clouds was subsiding. It will build up again in the afternoon. So, in order to experience everything in Alishan, you will need to stay for a night or two.
Goodbye, sunrise. No sunset view from Alishan as well... but I got to view the best sunset in my own island. Off we bounced along the scenic highway to look at a thousand years old tree. We dozed off in the van as the excitement was totally gone already. We just wanted to crawl back to bed before we checked out.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

♩ ♫ ♬ Glory to God in the Highest~! ♩ ♫ ♬

There's a story behind every success and failure. My girl did not do so well when she was in primary school. None of us pressure her to do well. We only want her to learn what she has to learn. When she came to know Jesus, we asked her to do everything unto Jesus, not for us or anybody else. She changed drastically. She studied without me having to nag at her. She only asked me to take her to Popular Bookstore and a month before PMR when she was in Form 3, we bought until there's no more books to buy. She finished every book that was on the shelf of the bookstore.

Again, I did not expect her to get straight A's. I still remember her class teacher who asked me to send her for Bahasa Melayu tuition under the her own tutelage. She said that if I don't send her then she will never get A. I gave the teacher the biggest smile and said we would see how it goes about. Inside me, I was boiling hot and about to erupt like a volcano. As a school teacher, if you are so good, you shouldn't promote your tuition, you should just teach in class and let them score. Why want me to send her for extra tuition just to get straight A's? So, I related to her what the class teacher said and she told me she's not going for any extra tuition, she would manage somehow.

Anyway who says that God will only help those who help themselves? I beg to differ. Do you think those who didn't do well did not bury themselves in books and more books? They did~! So, that's not how God works. 

Hubby build up her spiritual life while I try my best to give her a home like others, someone to take her wherever she needs to go, I'm a full time chauffeur and cook, hubby is her maid to do everything else. Then, the big boost in her spiritual life came from a prophet by the name of Paul Ang. He advised her to put God first, to honour God.

To cut the long story short, that simple advice was drilled into her head. During the examination, there were two conferences from really excellent men of God. One was that by Julius Suubi and another was none other than prophet Paul Ang. My girl did mention that by attending, she would miss the few days of not revising. 

In actual fact, two months before SPM, she told me that she wanted to let everything go and just gave up on her studies. I'm a little bit hard on this area but I did the most unbelievable thing. I agreed with her to let go. That must be the most magical agreement that I have ever made with her. She's stress-free except for the stress that she gave herself. I just told her that if fail then let it be. Both of us felt nothing about taking this result. With or without A's doesn't matter. What matter most is her walk with God. I don't want her to be so educated that she has no manners and she doesn't know the living God.  

Just the previous night she dreamed that I took her result and informed her in a monotone that she only got 2 A's. So, on the way to school, she asked me not to have any high hopes. Actually, I don't have anything in mind. We were even discussing whether who should look at the result first. Her PMR result was collected by me as she was away for Youth Camp. In the end, we both read the result and screamed like mad hyenas. Stopped to take a breather to read properly then screamed again. We're just like drama queens including the teacher who gave us the result slip. 

What I learn all these years having her:

  1. As a parent or guardian, we can plan the best plan for their lives, but in the end they are the ones living their lives, never live your life through theirs. If you never have the chance to pursue your dream, do it now while you're still breathing. Never force them to be who you wanted to be many decades ago.
  2. That result slip is just a piece of printed paper. By tomorrow, nobody cares at all.
  3. If they can't be an achiever, let them be who they want to be. You can just be a guide to them, that's all. Whoever says only those from first class can have a good future? And who is the wise person who says that the children should either be a doctor, accountant, lawyer or engineer only then they are considered as successful? Do you know that a char koay teow hawker can earn cash everyday better than a surgeon if the char koay teow is really in demand??? 
  4. There's no guidebook on how to raise a child.
In conclusion, I don't know what I've been doing. It's tough and tedious so don't ask me to have my own children, I'm not up to going through the cycle anymore. Totally not up for this anymore. I'm happy that she's all grown-up and yes, she still need our guidance. We're not letting her have her own wings completely. A bird that flies sky high still need a place to rest. Oh, I'm not saying that all should follow our style, just writing what I experience.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Old Free's Reunion Dinner [Class of 77]

So, it was still Chinese New Year. Those who were overseas flew back to celebrate this traditional occasion with family and friends. On the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, there's a gathering for old friends held at Evergreen Laurel Hotel. Why choose that place? I don't know... but it's definitely not for the food. Be careful what you wished for. I wished to have food in hotels and I got my fair shares of hotel food. Park Royal Hotel stays on top of my list. Evergreen Laurel is at the bottom most even further below the economy rice outside my house. Sorry, Evergreen Laurel. My Malay neighbour can cook better... *sigh*
Food is just a common connector. Some people might feel out of the place so they find solace in burying themselves in a big plate of fried rice or salad. And in every reunion or celebration, food is highly involved. Since food is just to connect people and make those who have no idea who were these people whom they call schoolmates were, it's better to discuss about food, or to talk over food. This event was a success thanks to a late friend of theirs who died suddenly of cardiac arrest while diving. He's a diving instructor. *My wish to take diving license disappeared into thin air... the hubby will not agree* Because of his sudden death, it was like a wake-up call to everyone of them that life is short and push aside all differences, they have known each other since 7 years old or 13 years of age. It's already a long way calling each other friends, why not just keep up with that. *Got me thinking, maybe I should start inviting my own classmates over for dinner. I don't even remember my primary school friends who are chatting away in the group page* Because of this one man, the class of 77 came to life again they have group chat in Watsapp which pings every few minutes so hubby has to turn off the notifications or I would throw his smartphone away and hand him one of the antique phones we have somewhere in our safekeeping. You remember the Motorola phone PCN600? It's still around somewhere. 
Hubby brought me along... for a purpose or two. First, I am the driver. He sat behind me then I went to fetch his friend also. Both also sit at the back. I was short of two steps or I would be a professional chauffeur - to get down of the car and open the doors for them to get in and out. Secondly, I was around to be his unpaid photographer, for that, I'm about to ask him to get me a 3-D lens before I embark on another long journey. 
I was hungry. I think I'm hungry round-the-clock. So, I made the best out of everything that's been served. Hubby peeled the prawns for me so I can keep my fingers clean.
The hams... I learnt something new today. Everything that looks beautiful, may not be good but, everything that is good, is surely beautiful. Then mi mama said that sometimes even awful food may become delicious just because how they decorate the food on the platter. Anyway, the main reason for today's get-together was not focused on food.
It was of lost friendship found again, disconnected yet connected once again. It's friendship restored.
Boys, will be boys no matter how old they are. I think this guy forgotten that there's a lady holding a camera waiting for all to be seated to take the group photo. I used hand signals for them to sit and focus on the lens. They were too happy to concentrate on anything. It's a little bit of conversation here and there.