A few weekends ago, we decided to take a day trip out to Neiwan - a small village in the mountains. It's best known for its natural hot springs and beautiful scenery.
Getting there was a little more difficult than we had anticipated. When we arrived at the train station we found that we couldn't take a train there (this was established after much frustration with the language barrier as the English window was closed). So we wondered out to the bus station nearby. While attempting to read the schedule and the buses, a man said "going to Neiwan?" - he must have read our minds! We had to wait about 15 minutes but then boarded a bus and purchased a ticket to Neiwan. Once arriving at the first stop, Jhudong, everyone got off the bus. So we followed. We had heard another couple say they wanted to go to Neiwan, so we decided to follow them. They went into the train station and purchased a train ticket (hadn't we already paid our full fare?) Apparently from here we needed to take the train to Neiwan. We had to wait nearly an hour because we had just missed the every hour train.
While we waited, we wondered around the town a bit and stumbled upon a park. Or so we thought it was a park - it actually turned out to be a museum (a very small museum) of the logging history in this county. We spent the better part of our time waiting for the train in the museum then headed back to catch our ride.
The ride was beautiful, thought the mountains, over rivers, and into tunnels. When we arrived we wandered through the market - a wonderful array of sights and smells. Here we tried some wonderful fresh made cranberry juice (after purchasing a rather expensive bottle of it, we've come think that it's actually a concentrate that needs watered down and a little sugar). Next we bought some Jhongzi (rice dumplings steamed inside bamboo leaves) and found a small park to sit and enjoy.
After eating, we continued to wander around town. We found the suspension bridge which is one of the most known tourist attractions and followed it over a riverbed lined with beautiful gardens. We couldn't help but wonder if these gardens were washed away each year by flooding.
On the other side, we began to explore this side of town only to stumble upon a hiking trail. We followed this train for about an hour and a half. The trail was made mostly of wooden walkways and stairs, some parts worse off than others. We happened upon a beautiful swimming hole with a number of waterfalls leading into it. It was so beautiful, we could have spent our entire day here. Unfortunately, having plans for dinner with some friends, we headed back to town and grabbed some sausages to snack on. Apparently Neiwan is known for it's wine filled sausages - I'm a bit skeptical as I did not taste wine at all and these sausages are more fat than meat!
The ride back to Jhudong was a bit more crowded but we were able to sit at the front of the two car train and see the view as the conductor sees.
Go to our photo page (click photos at the top of the blog) to see more pictures from our visit to Neiwan.