An enchanting forest in Taiwan
I know I’ve written about Forget Your Worries Forest (FYWF) already. That was really a teaser to introduce you to my hike last month. Today I’m going to talk about this enchanting forest, and dedicate this whole post to it. The reason I want to do a separate post is because it is so beautiful and I want it to be the star. I want to tell you how it came about, where is it, how to get here and what it feels like being here.
HOW IT CAME ABOUT?
Forget Your Worries Forest is actually called Caodi Wetland and lies at the lowland in the forest. It would often overflow with water after heavy rainfall. All this changed after 21st September 1999, 19 years ago. That day the second deadliest earthquake in Taiwan struck at 7.3 on the Richter scale. It killed nearly 2.5k people and injured over 11k. This is known as the 921 Earthquake. The epicentre was in central Taiwan about 40km away from here, and caused landslides in parts of the forest. The earthquake created a small valley, landlocking water into a lake (it sounds better than a swamp) amongst the forest.
Overtime the trees in the lake died out, and the trunks were left standing in the water. The reflection from the lake amidst the serene surroundings in the valley created a picturesque view, an enchanting forest. It was like you had entered into another world where can forget about all your worries. That’s how the name Forget Your Worries Forest came about.
Now you know why I wanted to come here so much once I heard about it. The only thing that was holding me back was procrastination and transport which I will talk about in a minute.
WHERE IS IT THE ENCHANTING FOREST?
FYWF is located in central Taiwan at around 1800m above sea level. It’s the green pin on the map and is 265km from Taipei, and 80km from Taichung where I live. The orange pin is JiJi, the epicentre of the 921 earthquake.
HOW TO GET HERE
The easiest way to get here is to drive yourself. If you like the thrill of driving along bendy mountain roads you will love this drive. Though I have to warn you, it’s quite dangerous and you can easily get motion sickness as you spin around the many hairpin bends. To give you an idea, this is the last 15km of the journey, and point B at the map below is around 1100 meters ASL. That’s 800m ascend to get to the car park of FYWF which is the blue pin, point A at the bottom of the map.
Alternatively you catch the 6883 bus from Taichung train station to Xitou Nature Education Area (point B in the map below). That takes just over an hour and a half and cost NTD167 (USD5.4/ GBP4.13) one way. From there you need to change another bus (there are various) towards Shanlinxi Forest Recreation Area and get off at the FYWF car park.
This is the car park. There is no parking at the entrance of the forest, so you need to catch a shuttle bus from here. That takes you to the entrance of FYWF (the green pin in the map above). The road to the forest is behind the parking sign in the photo below and is even steeper and smaller than before. It only takes about 5 minutes to get there by shuttle and it costs NTD100 (USD3 / GBP2.5) each way. Sounds as steep as the road itself.
Alternatively you can walk up to the forest entrance, but with up to 70% gradient in some parts, be prepared for a tough walk. Here we are walking down not up. It’s so steep that even walking down is quite hard work so we found it easier to walk backwards.
There’s a little hut for drinks and snacks as you get off the shuttle bus. Actually, I just noticed, the cafe call themselves the Selflessness Forest, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, so I’m going to stick with my own translation – Forget Your Worries Forest .
The forest is another few minutes walk from the hut, very mild by comparison to the way up from the car park. The only problem is that it can get a bit muddy on the way, especially as you get inside the forest. I saw a couple of girls wearing plastic covers over their shoes. They were like see through wellingtons made of a thick plastic bag with an elasticated top just below your knee. They’re practical to keep your shoes clean but a bit hideous to look at if you ask me. And not to mention slippery and dangerous when walking along the muddy path.
ENTERING THE ENCHANTING FOREST
I arrived here around 3pm when it was the end of my hike for the day. I came down from the mountain entering the inner part of FYWF. There was no one here, just nature and peace. I was absolutely dumbstruck by what I saw. The tree trunks grew out from the lake elongated by their own reflection. The fact they were just trunks, no branches or leaves made it more fascinating. Some trunks have lost out to time, and have fallen into the lake floating peacefully as if they’re soaking in the serene surroundings.
I’m going to let the photos and video do the talking now, they can do a much better job than me. I hope you will enjoy touring this enchanting forest, and may your worries flow far away.
You can check out all my travel posts here on Steemit Worldmap.