Monday, 11 April 2016

Fenchihu Old Street (奋起湖老街) and Fenchihu Railway Station (奮起湖車站)

 Sun Hot Spring Center
Flora Restaurant
The Sun Hot Spring & Resort (台中日光温泉会馆)
We embarked our journey to the Fenchihu Old street (奋起湖老街) after we had "free" breakfast at Flora Restaurant - Taichung The Sun Hot Spring & Resort (台中日光温泉会馆) where we stayed for a night since yesterday.
My Personal Hot Spring Theme Room
Bathing in the 100% authentic spring is just like bathing in natural moisturising lotion that softens the keratin and well, my hot spring is about 40∘C . The spring releases sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and carbonate that relieve the skin from the wrath of age. It also helps me to relax my body and soul. Here we go.
Breakfast Dining (Glass Window)
Buffet Breakfast@Flora Restaurant
Classic Wooden Ceiling
Flora Restaurant is located on the 1st floor of the Sun Hot Spring Resort Center; it was newly built in 2012 with the cosy yet simple wooden design.
Spa Lobby
Spa bears relax@teatime
During the bus ride, I could see high mountain to where our resort is as it is such a beautiful place, yet I spot a 'watch' shelter (pic below) where visitors could view the scenery.
'Watch' Shelter
There is also tea plantations (below) on the hill slope where lots of tea leaves are planted.
Tea Plantations
Fenchihu has a 160-year long history which can be traced back as early as over 100 years before the opening of the Alishan Forest Railways in 1912.
Fenchihu Railway Track
We stopped at old Fenchihu (Fenqihu) Railway Station (奮起湖車站) and it's still in operation. In fact, Fenqihu was founded in 1850. The first settler saw that the area was surrounded on three sides by mountains, but had an opening in the south. The geographical position in this area allows Fenqihu to have cool summers and warm winters.
Fenchihu Railway Station (奮起湖車站)
Stop Look Listen signage
This signage (Stop Look Listen) seems like unwritten rules of life in China or Chinese railway crossing with characters for as I often wonder what it's like in life in China before traffic lights was invented.
 No Gate or car along the track (before)
White car crossing the rail track (after)
There is no install sensor or gate crossing on the railroad that motorists or other vehicles would crossing the rail-road without warning but they (drivers) know the timings of the trains or look out any signs of incoming train before it crosses the rail-road track. I managed to take a shot of a white car crossing it and my hubby was on the left.
If there is fence crossing and "installed" sensor, the train will pass through level crossing, the light will flash. How do you know the train is on the way? Well, it is the sensor. When the train is approaching level crossing 20 meters before, the train's wheel press sensor that will be powered then fences will come down.
1,405 metres above sea level, located at Chiayi County, Taiwan, marks the halfway point of the world-famous Alishan Forest Railways on the way to the top of Alishan (Mt. Ali). It was once a refuel middle stop for the old Alishan forest trains, Now, it is now a stop for travellers and tourists to take a rest on the way to Alishan Forest Recreation Area.
Fenqihu Garage
We proceeded to the train garage (pic above) next to the Century-Old Fenchihu Railway Station (hidden from view), displays old steam locomotives, old-engine models, refuel station, as well as a number of pictures displaying the glorious history of Alishan Forest Railway (阿里山森林鐵路).
 Old Steam locomotives
Old Engines Models
Fenqihu Garage is the most important rest station and maintenance site in the uphill section of the Alishan Forest Railway (阿里山森林鐵路). In the past, steam trains, going uphill or downhill, must refill water and coal here. It was also the place where locomotives were changed before going uphill. In normal times, there were trains igniting at Fenqihu Garage for departure. After the garage was withdrawn in 1985, it became the exhibition site of old steam trains. Inside the garage there are photos of the steam locomotives 18 and 29 and steam trains.
 Train Ticket Counter
What this couple was doing?
Even though, Fenchihu railway station is still in operation, I heard from the radio announcement that a train is coming shortly. As I looked at my watch as well as the clock above the station shelter, it's 11.30am and the train comes in mins. I hurried walked up the station point from the railway track where I stood earlier for a photoshoot. Here it comes.
Fenchihu railway station: Approaching Incoming train
A train has arrived!
A train has arrived at the station! What a sight! Many passengers carried their luggages and some carried 'hand-carry' bag down at the station. This train travels from Chiayi to Alishan. Now it stopped at Fenchihu station and the next journey will travel to final stop to Alishan.
Wooden houses and shops are built accordance to hill slopes with a 500-meter long along the old street below the train station. Ahead of the developments of Alishan railway and roads, various shops as well as vendors had settled around this area.
 Train operators checking
The back of the train
After the train stopped at the station, train operators inspect the 'motor' engines at the back of the train and in the middle of the train, to ensure it runs smoothly on the next station.
 This train travels from Chiayi to Alishan
On 13th January 1986, Zhuzhan Line was opened and became a "sister-railway" of Oigawa Railway, Japan. Zhushan Line is the ideal spot for watching sunrise in Alishan Forest Recreational Area. In 1984, the Forest Bureau built Chushan Line to transport passengers to Zhushan to watch sunrise. Fenchihu is considered as an old century street and various restaurants and souvenir shops can be found here. Due to the prosperity of tourism in Fenchihu, this old street with the highest elevation in Taiwan has become one of the must-see attractions when traveling to Alishan from Chiayi.
To Fenchihu Old Street
Fenchihu Old Street would bring visitors and tourists like us to go through a unique antiquity trip, healthy forest trails and an experience travel through a time tunnel.The landscape with rock slope paths layers by layers and history background to Chiufen.  The stone stairway is narrow and rough. Many locals Taiwanese as well as old folks are used to it as they has lived for decades. It's a good exercise for locals Taiwanese old folks and young people alike.
In the old street of Fenchihu
After we took lots of photos at the railway station and the track, It's time for us to have lunch at the famous restaurant - Fenchihu hotel Restaurant which is the most popular and most tasty.
Pot Water fountain
Fenchihu is known as the Chiufen in Alishan. It is notable for its Old Street, bamboo trees, and lunch boxes. At Fenchihu, visitors and tourists may find various specialities such as pastries, tofu, Aiyu jelly and many other local Taiwan delicacies.
Fenchihu Hotel
Fenchihu lunchbox belongs to the Lin’s Family (the founder of Fenchihu lunchbox) for that they went through many ups and downs. During Lin family, Jin-Kun (the second-generation of Fenchihu lunchbox founder)’s childhood when there were no Fenchihu lunchbox at that time, the locals survived on selling cakes, dumplings and noodles to travellers and tourists. He had to carry 8 bowls of noodles; 6 on the bottom and 2 on the top with a board in between and wait at the platform for the incoming passengers. It was such a hard job for a 10-year-old child to carry heavy bowls. He could still remember the times that he could not manage to pass the noodles through train window and accidentally knocked-over ending up wet like a drowned cat or dog but still he had to wait until the passengers finish and collect bowls before train departs again. Very sad indeed.
Fenchihu Restaurant
Fenchihu Lunchbox comes with chicken drumstick, porkchop, boiled egg added with other vegetables and indeed a sumptuous meal for tourists like us.
Why Fenchihu Lunchbox is so special among tourists and travellers? It has been widely known for more than half a century for its well-preserved taste following the traditional recipe and carefully selected fresh ingredients. Like us, we are to enjoy the authentic taste of Fenchihu lunchbox from every bite. The word “Persistent” is the secret of success of Fenchihu lunchbox!
My Fenchihu Lunchbox
My hubby's Fenchihu Lunchbox
These Fenchihu Lunchbox (pic above) has featured on TV Channel U recently, the last time it appeared in 1990s and it was the same shop we went for our lunch and now the owner of the lunchbox is the 3rd generation takes over and operates this shop. This Fenchihu lunchbox we had indeed delicious and yummy and the meats have this 'sweet' authentic taste.
The Fenchihu old town was renowned for the lively Fenchihu Old Street, mouthwatering Fenchihu lunchbox, and distinctive square bamboos (chimonobambusa quadrangularis).
Back in old days, when train came closer to the station, vendors would get ready to yell out “Bento, Bento” and carried thousands of freshly made lunchbox onto train compartment to satisfy traveller’s hunger and taste buds. Sadly, this vivid and lively scene is now a History.
Shop sells vintage bamboos and vases
 Elderly man seen walked up the slope
Elderly man is seen walking up the slope and on the right, there is a makeshift hut, a Chinese lady sells handmade "Bird nest" bottles for travellers and tourists but no one cares for less to buy from her.
Father & son walked up the slope to reach the station
As my hubby and I were walking up the slope, saw a young man and his aged father from the same group as us, walking in front of us. The old street has lots of ups and downs the slopes of the hill at the mountain and even the stone stairway is very rough and uneven road.Next, after we had our lunch, we will venture to the Alishan Forest Trail in my next blog.


  1. Hi, I chanced your blog on Fenchihu. May I know how many hours needed to explore the old town? We are planning to travel end Nov.

    1. Sorry for the late reply. That's depends on your itinerary if times permits. Two hours at least.