Exploring the Hidden Gems of Taiwan: Xitou (She-toe)
January 1, 1970
by Erica From America
Xitou is a small little town in Nantou County that has developed as a tourist attraction. Xitou has an amazing hiking trail called The Nature Education Area. It has several attractions and many different paths. Xitou also has a little monster/ghost gimmicky attraction to entertain tourists. It seems like a great place to go to celebrate Halloween.
I was getting to Xitou from my city, Taichung. Traveling to Xitou from Taichung is fairly easy. You can scoot or take a city bus to the High Speed Rail station. Downstairs at the HSR station there is a bus station busing passengers to various locations. The buses to Xitou run every 20-30 minutes and you can buy a ticket when you get there. I don’t think there are prepaid ticket options. Ticket are $155 TWD (about $5 USD) per one way.
Xitou’s Nature Education Area
This time, I had two travel companions who I will call Curious George and Mumma bear. We took the bus around 11:20am and arrived in Xitou about 90 minutes later. We went directly to the hiking park – The Nature Education Area. The hiking park charges $200 TWD (about $6 USD) per person. The money paid is well worth it since there is a lot of interesting points of entertainment along the way, the trail is very well groomed, the map is easy to follow, and the signs for each part offer a lot of information.
From the opening of the trail, the first thing I noticed were some beautiful white doves, and some fat-tailed squirrels running around. I wonder if they are somehow strategically placed at the beginning of the trail to attract tourists.
From the opening there were several different directions to walk in. The trail straight ahead was so well groomed with steps and some random playground-like attractions. We “tried” climbing up these wooden sloops, but they were looking a little wet and the last thing we wanted was to slip and fall and knock out our teeth.
As we continued on we made a stop to check out some Ginkgo trees. Ginkgo trees are native to China but don’t grow wildly anymore. There were originally planted in Taiwan here in Ginkgo. They grow a fruit that is supposed to be edible and promote good respiration, though this fruit can be poisonous if overeaten.
Continuing Along the Trail
As we continued walking Mumma Bear pointed out this black plant that she had thought was a piece of plastic before being informed that it was actually a plant. I stopped in my tracks.
“That’s not some plastic hose or something?” I asked. Apparently it wasn’t. I tried to find out what it was, but nothing under “black hose plant” came up with the right results on google.
As we continued to walk up we could see the majestic scenery that comes along with climbing a mountain. And amongst that feeling of admiration and respect for nature comes that frustrations that photos do NOT really look like what you’re looking at. With all the incredible technology of photography, there will never be an “actually there” setting.
We ascended a little further and found a nice place to sit down and enjoy some of our snacks of dry fruit and nuts. Even up here in the mountain there are shops. There is also a sign showing some of the weather information. It was a perfect 24 degrees celsius, 74 degrees fahrenheit. Now, this is NOT something to be taken for granted in the middle of summer in Taiwan. The usual temperature in most of the cities at this time is about 34 degrees fahrenheit, 93 degrees Fahrenheit with about 80% humidity. Once we took note of the temperature we simply rejoiced in the comfort of the outdoors. Basically starting singing sweet Jesus, Hallelujah.
Reaching the Skywalk
Continuing on, we reach the skywalk. Walking the skywalk, there is simply not much to say except the typical “What a view!” But, poor Curious George was just a wee bit scared all the way up there. I am happy to report we made it all the way with out any accidents in the pants.
And then, and then, we hit it, the ADULT PLAYGROUND! Woohoo! Ninja Warriors Time! There were several pieces to go on that we tried. I really don’t have a name for these things, so you can just see a couple of them in the pictures. On one we had to try to move from one hanging rope set to another. It is actually much more difficult than it looks. None of us could make it all the way. It really required a lot of upper body strength. (If you didn’t notice how large my muscles where bulging in the photographs. SHE-HULK!)
Then we hit this rope bridge thing. The highlight of this piece was when Mumma Bear very famously proclaimed “I’m going to fall and split open my vagina!” And she didn’t realize I was video recording her saying that. Woops. I’m happy to report no vaginas were harmed in the walking of this rope.
The Giant Tree and the Pavilion
As we were making our way out we stumbled upon a truly incredible sight, The Giant Tree. Not only was this a giant tree, it was a giant tree that either had falled over or been pulled out BY THE ROOTS. The roots and the length of the tree were simply awe-inspiring. There are two, but one is far bigger than the other. They are both laying in front of a new pavilion theater that was recently constructed. I suppose the pavilion theater is for bands to play gigs. The pavilion is a gorgeous long red construction. We were able to walk over and check it out. The whole landscape was incredible.
Wrapping up the Day – Dinner
We very merrily killed about three hours in the woods, didn’t get to see everything, but it was getting close to time for us to catch the last bus to Taichung. The last bus leaves at 5:10. We didn’t have much time to see the monster/ghost village thing, just walked by it. We managed to find a nice local restaurant, and squeezed in a very nice dish of fried rice and shared a big bottle of beer. I love the local restaurants, we spent about 90 TWD, (about 3 USD) for a good warm meal after a long hike.
At last we got on the bus a traveled back to Taichung for the night.