Total distance: 21 km
Altitude up: 700m
Altitude down: 600m
It has rained heavily all night, with the drops hammering loudly on the plastic roofs, the thunder rumbled and the lightning brightened my room. My sleep was accordingly of less high quality. At first it is still raining, but the rain stops at about 8:00 am. I buy my beakfast and sit down on the viewing platform. The view during and after rain is actually very beautiful and the same scenery changes constantly as the clouds move fast around and over the mountains and valleys. As it begins to rain again, I move back to the church and drag out my departure, not knowing if and how to continue, because it not only rains, but also the wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped
. At 9:00 am, the rain takes a break, I pay 200 NTD to the priest's wife, thank her and walk down to Baling. Now the sun even pushes sometimes through the clouds and steam rises from the road. The driver of the local bus honks the horn, stops beside me and asks if I want to go down with his bus . The other pessangers look on curiously. I explain my project, he understands and leaves - without me. This repeats twice with other passenger cars - sometimes it takes some convincing as they have never seen a foreigner walk such distances with a backpack, propably also no local for the last 30 years. After Baling it always goes up with one exception when the road unluckily drops 180 m, only to have to make it up again. All the way intermittent rain, fog and lower temperatures. Still the play of the clouds in the valleys and mountains is beautiful and the peace really enjoyable. In one village all is painted with Korean symbols - I'm sure I did not take the wrong turn and drifted to Korea. At the police station I sit down for some cookies and water and ask the police officer about the Korean signs. He explains that Koraen school children had visited the local school and as a welcome the village turned Korean. A car stops and a man and woman get off to offer me a ride ( you know my answer ) and other advise. The lady is kind of mayor in this area . They tell me where they live is Galahe. Later on my way another lady in a car stops and offers a ride and a place to stay without pay. Again I walk on.
Finally I get to Galahe
, here I know two homestays ( there are 1 or 2 more ). First I see the church, probably the nicest building in the village( a year ago we joined an evening mess, which is here a very lifely community event. Prayers, singing, children running in and out of church, children crying, children chasing dogs around the church, we are given tea and some cookies - not the solemn atmosphere I know from home where everyone " Pssst " the other if he/she speaks a word, more a village gathering. The same experience I had in the Sheng Shi Bao Presbyterian church some other time. By the way, most of the sermon and singing is done in the tribal language. The texts are printed in Romanized letters, meaning you and me can read it. The romanization of the aboriginal languages was brought there by the priests and missionaries. Romanization much better represents the pronunciation of the indigenous languages. )
I miss the the first home-stay and walk much too far up the mountain. When I get the right turn I find that the place is closed. The owners are from Taipei and often only come on weekends. I walk to the second home-stay and this retired couple, also from Taipei, is there. At first I see the man, Mr. Tsai , in his garden - a dedicated gardener with a huge variety of flowers. He immediately recognizes me and asks for the others who came last time. He even remembers that last time we went up to Shuae Bai Shan ( Snow white mountain, 2450m ) and then to Se Ma Ku Se ( Smangus ) village
. I tell him what I plan to do and he calls his wife to tell the whole story while enjoying a hot Chinese green tea on their veranda. He tells me that Ka La He
and Smangus villages
, both separated by a 2000 to 2500 meters mountain range, now cooperate to develop tourism by improving the trail over Shuae Bai Shan. While in the past Semangus has been successful in attracting tourism, Galahe has done very little, although they have excellent natural resources, such as a wild hot spring in a river and areas with Shen Mu - big old trees. This is what I often see and feel during my walk: the development of a mountain village depends a lot on the spirit, enthusiasm and competence of the local village chief to motivate and unite the village members behind a common goal
. After a longer talk it really gets too cold and I am still sweat from my walk, so Mr. Tsai, the owner's name, shows me the tong pu ( 16 beds on the floor - I am again alone ) under a roof made of metal fame and corrugated steel plates. It's very homey, but very cold. I walk to the village ( a few seemingly empty houses and a small shop ) and sit on a rock to enjoy the view on the surrounding mountains and the play of the clouds as well the pink-red peach blossoms. The dinner the lady of the house prepares is fantastic - Yunnan food, she is from this Chinese province. Spices and tastes tickle my taste buds in a way I have never tasted before. Their children have two Yunan/ Thai food restaurants in Taipei ( Neihu and Shisze ). I clear all plates, although this is not very polite, but now the satisfaction of my taste buds comes first
. I pay 500 NTD for sleeping and dinner - I feel like a king in France ( we say in Germany ), like a taste oasis in an otherwise culinary desert. The couple goes out to a village meeting and I sit in their living room and watch TV. I haven't called Tsai Chin yet for the next walk section, because the weather has really turned to the worse. When I go to bed I feel very cold and shiver - I expect this to be the early end of this walking section due to an upcoming cold. I roll myself deep into my sleeping bag and and put three blankets on top. In the night it rains again heavily and the sound of the drops on metal sheets you may imagine. The thunder itself does not disturb me much, but the usually associated lightning ( which I from my sleeping place can't see ) causes me some concern - I hope the all metal structure has a sufficient lightning-rod. Good (?) night.