Sunday, October 4, 2015

Lion's Head Mountain (獅頭山) hiking [Taiwan Day 763: Lion’s Share - Oct. 3, 2015]


Hakuna matata! This was the first thing that came into my mind when I first learned about theLion’s Head Mountain in Hsinchu. There were really no lions in this place but the name intrigued me. The place is officially part of the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area and considered as one of the best scenic areas in the island. There were various temples along the trail and some of them were built in Baroque style architecture with each of them having their own story. Three mountain systems made as one tourist spot. The Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area must have the lion's share in Formosa



I was with Kiran and he was my Travel Buddy for this Taiwan Day 763. He was also my Travel Buddy in the waterfall trail adventure in Sandiaoling in Taiwan Day 603 (True or Falls). How did we reach Lion’s Head Mountain? We boarded the train from Nangang to Zhubei and from there we transferred to the Taiwan Tour Bus. We paid a one-day ticket of NTD 100 for the bus ride. A one-way fare from Zhubei Station to Lion’s Head Mountain costs NTD 119 and it was a good decision that we bought the one-day ticket. 

Xiexin Tea House



Shuilian Cave Trail



A Thread of Sky

We went directly to the Lion’s Head Mountain Visitor Center to grab some maps. The scenic area is composed of interconnected trails and it’s better to have some maps in case that you got lost. We started first the adventure at the Shuiliao Trail aka Waterfall Curtain Trail. A temple is said to be shrouded in a curtain of water when it rains. The temple is also inside the cave which made it more interesting. As we go along the trail, we passed by an old stone bridge in which a glutinous rice paste was used as an adhesive for the stones. 








Shuilian Cave Temple
Shizi River

We found the temple but it was not raining but going inside you will feel droplets of freshwater falling down from above. There were also other visitors aside from us proving that the place is a popular site in the Lion’s Head Mountain. The Shuilliao Trail is only 500 meters but be careful in the trail. Some parts were very slippery with giant insects to surprise you.

Entrance of the Lion's Head Mountain Historic Trail

There were many butterflies along the trail.






Wanfo Temple






Giant lion carvings welcomed us at the entrance of the Lion’s Head Mountain Historic Trail and we didn’t let the opportunity pass without taking pictures. We expected concrete steps but we were surprised that we were walking on an asphalted road leading to the mountain top. As we walked our way to reach Quanhua temple, we noticed the damaged trees caused by past typhoons. There was also erosion in the trail as evident by the exposed roots of large trees. We have also seen large boulders shredded by forces of nature. Even the asphalted road showed signs of very slowly movement with its numerous short parallel cracks.
 






Lingxia Cave Temple




Yuanguang Temple (Shihyan Cave)


Wangyue Pavillion


Lion's Head Mountain cliffs









Stone inscription on the cliff wall

What can the Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area offer to its visitors? There were many temples built along the mountain caves. One of them is the Lingxia Temple. It has a Baroque style architecture which is dominant in Taiwan during the island’s Japanese colonial period. We also passed by a stone marker that demarcates the boundary between the provinces of Hsinchu and Miaoli. The Lion’s Head Mountain cliffs were etched with Chinese poems and we couldn’t resist ourselves in taking photos. We walked down carefully in this part. The stone stairs were no longer stable and rock falls can happen anytime. 

Quanhua Temple as seen from Sheli Cave Temple









Kaishan Temple





Daode Gate
Sheli Cave Temple is another temple built on a cave and while we were wandering an old man approached and talked to us in very good English. He called himself Uncle Zhen (pronounced as ‘jan’). He toured us inside the temple and showed that it was built inside a cave. I took a video to document our encounter with Uncle Zhen.  After our interesting talk with him, he later pointed the way to Kaishan Temple.








Sheli Cave Temple


The Quanhua temple was the icing on our trip. Uncle Zhen had explained that Quanhua Temple is a combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucian temples. We walked and we were fascinated by the fantastic view.  Although cloudy, the beauty from the temple’s rooftops will still amaze anyone who visits the place. At spring, cherry blossoms add a hue of pink to the orange building complex.


The Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area is not just all about mountains. The Nanzhuang area boasts its Hakka culture, the Emei Lake has a large smiling Maitreya Buddha while the town of Beipu has cold springs to relax your tired bodies. But one day is not enough to visit these places. Kiran is even planning to hike the 5 kilometer Liuliao Trail. As the Taiwan Tour Bus coming from Nanzhuang took us back to the Visitor Center, I promised to myself that I will go back in this mountain and tell my friends about my experience in Lion's Head Mountain. I went hiking and got the lion’s share.
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