From Gongguang we have a short walk to the Odeon Guesthouse, which is located next to the National Taiwan University (NTU) campus.
Despite we had booked an early check-in (at 9am.) we don't find anyone waiting for us. Actually, we don't even find the guesthouse, but Odeon Cafe, and assume it to be somehow linked. The cafe is closed as well, but we expect someone to show up at 9am.
When no one does, we call the guesthouse, and soon someone comes, and takes us to another cafe (Lumiere), one of the film themed cafes in the neighborhood. She prepares us some breakfast, and takes us to our room in yet another building.
Next morning starts sunny and warm. This is the outdoor day: we plan to visit Yangmingshan National park.
We walk to the Guting station, and on our way we see this huge mass of people coming up. Most of them are dressed in yellow t-shirts and yellow hats. Some of them later in the line wear ballet or circus outfits. We really don't know who they are or what they represent.
We take the train to Jintan, where we take Bus Red 5 to the park. We have a short walk from the bus stop to the Yangmingshan National Park Visitor Center. We are only a few hundred meters above the sea (and the city) level, but the weather is quite different --- it is cool and humid.
After a couple of hours of hiking we are at Lengshuikeng Visitor center; cold and wet we are ready to take a shuttle bus back to the town.
Easier thought than done, since the shuttle service runs every so often, and there are a lot of people trying to leave the park. We have to wait for a couple of shuttles before we get into one, and still it's super packed.
Finally we survive the long commute in a sweaty and packed bus to Shilin station and then by metro back to our NTU neighborhood and Cafe Bastille for some Young's beers.
Finding a dinner place is an ordeal again --- last night we ended up in a Sababa Pita restaurant after checking out a number of brightly lit Chinese places, a Russian and a German restaurant, a few pizza places, and a super popular Japanese place.
This outdoor pizza place serves interesting pizzas, and probably that's why it's fully booked and people are standing in the line all evening --- we have no luck in securing seats. We end up in a Chinese run Japanese restaurant Sanraku, which is not so great. Service is good, though, but not really Japanese style.
On Monday it is time to leave Taipei for a one-week adventure in the rest of the island.
We take a train to Ruifang, where we spend some time at a coffee shop waiting for our ride to Jiufen and our accommodation at Shi Xia Xiang B&B. It is raining miserably.
When we reach Jiufen it is still raining. We enter our residence at Shi Xia Xiang by climbing up endless stairs from the street below, following a motorbike that carries our backpacks. Our room at Shi Xia Xiang is very spacious but does not have a window.
When we get to the B&B we don't realize how close it is to Jinshan Old Street, and the web of other narrow shopping streets.
We take a (wrong!) bus to Gold Ecological Park, since we think (wrongly!) that any bus form there will get us to the East coast -- ideally yes, according to the time tables. We end up waiting for a long time while several buses go past, or pick up hundreds of tourists or school children visiting the park.
Eventually, a bus comes that takes us to Shuinandong by the seaside. There we catch the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle(*) to Fulong.
(*)Taiwan Tourist Shuttle is a regular bus service running on a schedule between various locations throughout the island, and it is also used by the locals.
Once in Tianxiang our dinner options are limited. Nothing there but a couple of eateries that close early (around 7pm.), and our accommodation Youth Activity Center. There is a finer resort hotel, but they don't accept dinner customers other than their own residents. Which is kind of sad since they are not too busy tonight.
Now we are again in the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle on our way to Hualien. We get stuck in the line with the tourist buses. There are tens or even hundreds of them (they are everywhere we visit Taiwan, the worst is even to come in Alishan)
The trip is not too interesting: first we follow the East coast down to Taitung and even further to Dawu. From there the train goes over the mountain range to the West coast, and then to Kaohsiung City and up to Chiayi.
Once we reach Chiayi, it takes us some time to figure out how to find to our hotel Day+. The tourist info at the railway station is very helpful, but still we are a bit lost, since it turns out to be a longer walk from the station than we think.
Day+ is cool and modern. It is only there that Tomi finds out that he's lost his credit card. Not really lost since we know where it likely is --- at the railway station in Hualien where we bought the tickets (the clerk never gave the card back). A short phone call solves the problem. They will send the card to Taipei Main Station.
Then it is the dinner time. The hotel staff directs us to the food street Ren ai Lu. What we mostly find there is "pig testicles" sold on bicycle racks, but we want a sit-in restaurant.
Eventually we find Nan Yang Yan serving Thai food and promising to be open for us even if it is late (in local standards). We start with Taiwan beer, which causes a tiny panic -- they have to go out to buy the beers somewhere. We have papaya salad (which is strange) chicken curry and baked fish, which is delicious.
Next morning an automatic telephone alarm wakes us up at 4:23am., even if we requested it at 4:45am.
Right after 5am. we start the one-hour hike on the Chushan sunrise viewing trail to Duei-Kao-Yuen sunrise viewing lot. No other human is up at this hour.