Trip Start Jan 18, 2013
31Trip End Jan 27, 2013
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Cycling around Sun Moon Lake on the south side was a bit tough as the bike trails are only on the north side and dont stretch all the way around. I had planned a route that would take me from the Thao settlement where I was staying to the giant pagoda and two nearby temples.
Although it was less than 5kms to get there it was tough cycling as it was an incline the entire time. I had to keep resting and was glad I stopped first for lunch and stocked up on drinks and snacks to give me energy while I cycled.
Eventually I saw the road signs for the first temple. There were supposed to be one temple at the lake, another on a path leading up about a km away, and finally the giant pagoda at the end of the uphill path further behind.
I had actually arrived at the middle temple not the one at the base of the lake. I decided to skip the one at the base of the lake as I didnt want to climb all the stairs down and back up to get to my bike. I was more interested in seeing the giant pagoda.
The temple was like many of the other temples in Taiwan and I was trying to see if there was a path behind leading to the giant pagoda. There wasnt one so I had to go back and ask one of the monks for directions.
The female monk who couldnt speak much english was kind enough to walk down from the temple and around to show me the route and entrance to the pagoda behind off the main road, not from behind the temple.
Now there was a sign for a turning off the main road. There was a long steep road leading upwards. I had to walk my bike up but was looking forward to be able to let my bike roll all the way down without peddling.
The road will bring you to a parking lot after which you have to continue climbing winding stairs to get to the giant pagoda. This leads to a giant plaza with the great pagoda in the middle. There are actually stairs inside that let you climb up too
There was a spiral staircase inside that opened to alternating viewing platforms on either side. Another stairwell spiraled around on the opposite side to the opposite entrances on each floor.
I'm not good with heights and it makes you dizzy if you go up too quickly. You can look down into the open interior though they had giant nets incase somebody falls.
I got to the 3rd viewing level, enough to get a clear view of the lake. I could see the top level just a few floors up but I knew if I went up I wouldnt be able to come back down
What was more disorienting was that people had gone up the alternate staircase and reached the top, and were now ringing the bell. The vibrations and sound echoed all the way down the hollow interior making me more nervous. I turned around and tried to make my way down slowly.
Slowly I was able to make it back down and was glad to be on solid ground. The stairs did not have any pillar supports and were just suspended outwards from the inside walls.
Down on ground level I could see people who had reached the top of the tower. Heading back to my bike it was a relatively easy ride downhill back to the main road. From there I barely cycled again as the incline was all downhill all the way back to the Itathao settlement.
It took almost an hour to bike to the pagoda but I was back in about ten minutes letting my bike roll downhill all the way.
Sun Moon Lake is quite big to do in a day. Perhaps getting the on/off bus pass would have been easier than renting a bike. Also I had lost time this morning taking the train to Chechung then waiting for the connecting bus.
I had some time the following day to check out the remaining temples that circled all around the lake
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