Decided to go slightly off the beaten track from Hualien we took a train to Guanshan, from the brochure it looks nice and Su had never been there. The train ride was about and hour and a half, its cloudy but the deep green mountains and the bright greens of the rice fields made it for a scenic ride. We both fell asleep 10 minutes into the trip but woke up a few stops before Guanshan and took notice of the impressive green landscapes of the rice fields. Arriving in Guanshan we had lunch first then looked for a hostel, Su phoned a few from the ads advertised on street corners, we found a cheap one, for 600 Taiwan $ for a room with a/c and cable tv, yay! After settling in we went for a walk only it started spitting and got worse as we approach the water park, we can see lots of bike for rent shops, we can imagine how this place can get busy at peak seasons. We saw some water buffaloes grazing in the river as we shelter from the rain, reminds me of the buffaloes in Tana Toraja only they don't get sacrificed here.
Went back to our place and watched cable tv then went out for a late dinner, it's still spitting, quite annoying, I hope weather gets better tomorrow. We struggled to sleep, soon as we shut the lights, mosquitoes pestered us, we were tossing and turning for a good hour until we decided to turn on the a/c that way we can tuck ourselves in inside the comforter and not get too hot, Su is sleeping in a proper mattress, I was next to him on the floor, I feel I had the worst mozzie attacks, they like to attack low I guess. Next morning is still spitting, we got to the bus stop for Lidao a mountain town an hour and a half away towards the west. We waited for half an hour, 1st bus is at 7:35am, it was late, but the bus driver was friendly and tried to practice some English with me. He told Su some useful info about Lidao, he said don't worry it probably is sunny up in the mountains he was right, it was raining when we left Guanshan and as we get higher the rain tapers off and before you know it, rays
of sunshine and blue skies. The enormous mountains seem to trap the clouds and if it low enough does not go over to the other side where Lidao is, great to see sunshine again. The ride was spectacular, deep gorges, farms, rivers, there used to be buses from Taitung heading west to the other side of the island going straight across these mountains but last year they had a strong typhoon that created landslides and now the roads are still closed, too bad, it would have been a very scenic ride.
The driver stopped briefly at a hot spring on the side of the road, below it is the raging river and rising from the river is a cliff with variety of colors in some parts, stains from the hot springs that just sprouted out from the cliff side, the springs is called Luo-Ko-Jin, six wells springs. We continued on to Lidao, a nice quaint town, very quiet aside from the kids playing next to our hostel, the Farmers GH according to Su, we got dropped off right at it's doors, the stop is just in front of it. The woman who let us check in is from Vietnam
and married the owner, a local. Our room is 800 Taiwan $, big and comfy with ensuite toilet but tv not working. We got breakfast, siu pao and some triangular shaped rice wrapped in some leaves with pork filling inside, yum! We rented from the owner of the GH a scooter, we pay 200 Taiwan $ for the whole day, our goal is to see the Lisong hot srpings eep in the mountain gorge, so they say. The ride towards it was a bout 30 minutes from Lidao, gorgeous scenery, vegetable farms, tea farms, tall mountains, mists in parts, the curvy roads are in good conditon sans a few areas damaged by the typhoon. We stopped briefly to take fotos at the tea farm, then just uphill from it Su made a right turn on a small road next to a few farmhouses. We asked for directions but the old man before Su can ask properly said ,Lisong? follow this road, they knew right away we wanted to go there, well there is nothing really to see here, if you're not a local they know we will go to the springs.
The small road was iffy in some places
due to rain so we ended up leaving the scooter halfway and walking it. A few chained dogs barked at us, a few houses are in the area, the road ended on a what seems to be like a parking lot, there are no signs so we saw an old woman, she walked us to the trail starting point, it's a small trail to the left of the clearing/parking space and right away it goes down and down and down for a good 45 minutes, its slippery, dead leaves litter the path I am glad I wore my trekking boots, there are ropes in places where the trail is tricky, it seems like forever trying to get down, then halfway we saw a clearing below and we heard the river, we are close so we kept on, more ropes, steep descent. Finally we arrived at the river, we need to cross it, so off my shoes, there is a rope to guide you across, not really to save you if you slipped, it's quite flimsy so watch your steps. Huge boulders we need to get over, we can see the hot springs now, as we get closer, we can smell
the sulphur fumes like rotten eggs. The last bit requires you to get down this massive boulder and tip toe down this flimsy set of logs then you cross the river again back to the other side. The springs are coming out from vents on the side of this cliff, it stained the cliff in some parts, rusty orange, some are white and some are green, It's really cool! I never been to a hot springs like this, usually water comes out from the ground, here it's from a cliff! There were about 4 small pools that people made over the years perhaps, different temperature, we decided to make our own, one for each. There is a waterfall gushing from the cliff side but it's quite hot. There is no one here but us so I stripped naked and enjoyed the hot springs like the Taiwanese normally do, in the buff.
We hang out here for maybe 2 hours, when I got tired of soaking my weary body I swam in the freezing cold river, the current is quite swift so I stayed on the side on a slightly deeper part away from the small stream. The area is
a hostel near the train station
hard to get to so it is unspoiled, a natural hot springs you can enjoy away from the crowd, cool! There is a shovel there too left by people in case you feel like making new pools, Su was up for the task. It started to drizzle a bit and we decided to get going as it may get tricky if it rains hard. The way back seems harder as we try to get back up the mountain but is actually faster because you have more traction and the ropes helps a lot. Huffing and puffing we arrive to the top. The scooter struggled to carry us uphill so i ended up walking a few, the road is covered by fog so Su was a bit slow, it's eerie but at the same time beautiful, the mist moves slowly, it was like that all the way to Lidao. Big lunch then a walk in the farms around and enjoy the beauty of nature in this parts, very quiet town, good for escaping the city.
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