Hsitou National Park and Other Adventures

Author’s Note: Sometimes busy things happen to good people and sometimes…they happen to your author.  He is not a good person because he was tardy in getting his blog entries posted for the last two weeks.  Also, he sometimes writes about himself in the third person.  He is sorry and would like to be known that, in his defense, it was quite a busy few weeks and hewas writing.  He just forgot to post that writing online (whoops).  He will now upload the missing entries.  Please hold…

Hsitou National Park and Other Adventures

Day 1:

Let’s talk about tea.  Why?  Because there is a lot of tea in Taiwan and it is delicious.  Also, because the Tunghai University program visited a major tea producing region close to Hsitou National Park and I want to write about it.  The villages that we visited produce high mountain Oolong tea, a specialty of Taiwan’s, and a very cheerful tour guide led us through the process.  I am not going to describe this process because there are several very excellent websites with far better information and photos than I can provide you with.  What I can do is recommend that, if you are ever in Taiwan, you visit these places because they are beautiful and you will become physically unable to buy Constant Comment ever again. (I can’t go back! I won’t!)  As proof, I offer some photos of tea fields, a tea house, and beautiful lake scenery.  Also? Fish!

Tea Plants
A Beautiful Lake Amidst Tea-Filled Hills
Some Bales of Tea Leaves Waiting to Be Processed
The Promised Fish

Unexpected Geese Are Unexpected!

After taking us on the tea tour, our guide took us to a bamboo grove near Hsitou.  At first, our group walked along a small path through the forest very similar to that surrounding the tea farms and then: BAM!

This Happened. Everywhere.

This was it.  I could move live here.  I would build on a tranquil spot.  I would wake up with the birds and take morning tea on my simple, but aesthetically pleasing, rough-hewn deck overlooking this very grove.  And then the bamboo warriors from Yimou Zhang’s House of Flying Daggers would attack…Yes, a popular film has permanently warped my brain, but before you judge me too harshly, please look at the picture below:

Pictured above: A bamboo grove path inexplicably free of sword fights, romantic tension, or intrigue…yet.

Why did no one tell me that a bamboo grove would be that green?  Or so beautiful?  It couldn’t real and be so perfect at the same time.  I had thought all those movie scenes were filmed with green filters, or lots of green eyeshadow, or unicorn blood…  This wasn’t real life forest.  This was pristine Discovery Channel forest.  There should barriers, and tape, and scientists in white coats keeping irresponsible young folk like me out so that no one can spoil this place.  Ever.  Yet there we were, walking around unimpeded.  Life is funny sometimes.  You think bamboo is just bamboo until one day…it’s not.

Day 2:

We spent last night in Hsitou park in a lodge available for youth.  We slept on the floor with mats and wrapped in big comfy white blankets.  Before setting out, I was able to take a shower and have a hot meal.  I may get flack for admitting this, but I think Taiwanese-style camping agrees with me far better than American-style.  Back home, I am good for two, maybe three days of camping before I become unfit company.  Apparently, all I needed on those past trips was a big white comforter and running water.  If we knew then what we know now, my family could have extended our trips for another week.  But I digress…

Our morning was spent walking through Hsitou National Park proper with our guide.  The entire forest is beautiful and, because I tuckered myself out writing about the bamboo grove (still my favorite part) I will now offer commentary on our trip in photo form.

This Bamboo Bridge Is Rebuilt Every Fall
View from Hsitou Sky Walk
Even the Trashcans Want to Fit In…

That wraps up the field trip to Hsitou.  Next stop actual classes!

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