Sunrise at Zhushan (祝山)

As we quickly learned during our weekend-trip to Alishan (阿里山), the main happening is to take an old mountain train up to watch the sunrise from one of the various peaks close to the park. Visiting the area with Anna’s Swiss siblings, we naturally expected to get up very early to hike up some rocky slopes. Thus, we were surprised when the first train passed our station without stopping, already too packed with tourists. Our surprise was even bigger as we arrived later at the station, following a big crowd of people over broad streets (on which further busses full of people rustled by) to finally arrive at a platform featuring several well-lit food stands. “Welcome to fish market,” Anna’s brother said with a grin, reminding us of the curious feeling of making it through the night in Hamburg’s night district with ever fewer people, only to stumble into a massive crowd at its famous early-morning market.

Luckily, we had seen a few youngsters leaving the road and bushwhacking into the woods, following signs for a nearby helicopter landing pad. With the crowd of hundreds leaning five people deep against the observatory platform to see anything of the rising sun, (and the sea of lit screens above them, of course!) we too took our chances (risking to miss dawn in the middle of the scrubs).

We were thus very surprised to find a big, pristine platform overlooking the nearby valleys – and less of a dozen people relaxing on the broad steps towards the opposite mountain flank. Once more a reminder that finding one’s own path is worth it! (Google maps knows the platform for its public toilets.)