Guanwu or Watch Clouds as the word means in Mandarin is truly a heavenly place in Hsinchu County of North East Taiwan. Lion District had its Annual Weekend retreat to Sheipa Leisure Farm between 16-17th November 2019.
I was excited from October when my trip to Taiwan was firm in place and I was told that I would be taken to Guanwu or the hills over a weekend. Who doesn’t like to see ‘Sea of Clouds’? I certainly do. When packing for Taiwan I made sure I was adequately packed for Guanwu.
At Dadu Goshiya I was watching YouTube links on Guanwu and knew how beautiful the place is with spectacular sunrise, stars in a clear sky and birds & flowers.
All excited I said ‘goodbye’ to my Teacher Friend WU Woan June for the weekend and went to Rotary President Safe & Amy’s house on Friday night to sleepover. Friday night was special too as I was invited to a Birthday party of an YE student Leo from Normandy, France. Enjoyed the Birthday party and was all set for Saturday’s journey with an early morning start. We left at 7am and reached at a park in Taichung and met a big group of 70 people. All Lion club members welcomed me and though English language is a barrier to many but the smiles said it all. I hopped into a bus with Amy & Safe and immediately got breakfast of Egg Roll and cabbage roll. Now the Taiwanese people love eating varieties of breakfast. So what I got wasn’t enough and I got within few minutes some dumplings with soya sauce. I, of course couldn’t finish. In the bus karaoke was on and I loved hearing the various people singing but all Mandarin. I enjoyed the fun. After an hour we got more goodies in the form of snacks and went on non stop munching. So much of food – just amazing!!! We stopped for ‘comfort breaks’ many times and reached Hsinchu County. Changed from bus to mini vans as road to Guanwu is narrow. Two vans had only luggage of 70 people and 4 vans with all of us. The view of the hills is spectacular with bamboo trees, Japanese Cedar trees on the sides. Looked so pristine and beautiful. A journey of 1 hour and we reached Sheipa Leisure Farm at 11:30am. Immediately after keeping the luggage’s in the lounge we headed for buffet lunch. Varieties were immense with various kinds of pork and chicken dishes, sticky rice, soups, Chinese cabbage salad which is also staple, choice of other salads, noodles and noodle soup, accompanied with tea & coffee. After a sumptuous meal we were introduced to the layout of the various trails and our leader chose the Maple Forest Trails. Hiking was such fun for me as I did it for the first time. We had a tour guide and he went along mentioning the various kinds of trees, flowers, on the views that one gets to see. Though the hike was an easy one but I had some difficulty and my Dear Friend Safe & Amy helped me a lot. I met a couple Ray & Gina who lives in Taichung and Ray is a Professor of Applied English in Uni in Taichung and Gina is a Teacher in a private school. Even Gina helped me. I had a lovely brief time with Ray & Gina. Having studied in Uni in NY their English was great and they had just come to spend the night in Guanwu. On Sunday post breakfast they had to leave as they were meeting Dr. Md. Yunus from Bangladesh. After a great hiking with some beautiful photo captures we returned back. We rested momentarily and enjoyed evening tea and snacks. Checked into our rooms and our room was great. Safe & Amy shared the room with me and once settled we wandered around. Taiwanese people love clicking photos a lot and I was just enjoying the fun. Of course I had lot of photos taken too. We moved on to dinner and the spread was again varied and very elaborate. Various kinds of soups, rice, veggies, salads, pork, beef, hotpot if one chose to have and tea & coffee. Individual Lion club members brought alcohol and we enjoyed red dry wine, scotch and beer. I had a hike again to see the spectacular view of the night stars and I was bowled by it. I’ve never seen such a clear sky with all stars visible and clear. I was so happy to see the stars
I set the alarm for 5 am to see the sunrise and had a great sleep.
Fresh after a shower I was all excited to see the Sunrise. The sky had a spectacular look and the stars were still visible with a peek to the moon too. I waited for the sunrise to happen but after waiting for 45 mins and no sign of sun’s visibility I gave up and came back to the room.
Enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast and we boarded the mini vans to visit the Sheipa National Park. The hiking was absolutely smooth and we went on to know from the tourist company the history of the park, the various trees present and I could hear the bird chirping. Didn’t see any bird. After a walk of one hour we went inside the Musuem and learnt on the history of Guanwu. We stopped for a coffee break and we started the trail to see the hills. The trail was a beautiful one. Returned to the Leisure Farm for lunch and the spread was more elaborate than before.
We all took our luggage and set for our return. On our return we stopped at Zhang Xueliang’s residence which was his former residence. A museum and I learnt a bit of Chinese history. We wandered around the garden and returned to attend the Dist Lion Club’s meeting followed by a lavish dinner. The bus ride on return journey was a great one with more karaoke by members and me thanking all for having me amidst them.
The day ended with utter satisfaction
Fall and I love the colours
I’m bowled by the stars
Sun peeping amongst the Japanese Cedar trees in Guanwu National Forest
The hills are alive with the Sound of Music
Our room in Sheipa Luxury Farm
Amy, and moi hiking in the Trail
Hills somewhat hidden by clouds