How much do you know about Fenqihu?
When it comes to Chaiyi, people may come up with Alishan or Turkey rice. However, in Chiayi, there are still lots of places and local food that are worthy to try. So, today we’re going to Fenqihu!
There’re three parts in the article. You can choose which part you’re interested at.
I. The Origin of Fenqihu
II. The World-class Railway Construction Methods (from Chiayi Station to Fenqihu Station)
III. What can we do in Fenqihu?
I. The Origin of Fenqihu
Fenqihu, an ancient settlement in history, is situated at an altitude 1400 m. There is no lake in Fenqihu, but why it’s called Fenqihu? It’s surrounded by mountains on three sides and with the ground low and flat. In addition, it’s often embraced by mist and cloud. Thus, it looks like Fenqi-shape (it means dustpan in Taiwanese) and a Hu (it means lake in Taiwanese) when you overlook it.
Fenqihu is the first stop on the Highway 169. This small mountain village is steeped in history, much of which revolves around its position as a relay station on the Alishan Forest Railway. Where once the trains carried lumber, today they bring thousands of tourists. In Qing Dynasty, people had settled there without highway and railway, and they earned a living by developing the Eucalyptus industry. However, during Japanese colonization, Fenqihu became the heavyweight village by producing clogs. The native wore clogs because the roads were paved with cinder at that time. Wearing clogs would be easier for them to walk.
Fenqihu Station has been the biggest midway point since Alishan Forest Railway was completely construction. Starting from Beimen Station, the steam train usually stopped at Fenqihu Station for a while. During the break time, staffs would add some water and coals to steam strain and passengers would have Bento(it means boxed lunch/便當/お弁当) for lunch. That’s the reason why Fenqihu is also known for Bento.
Fenqihu once declined since the highway had completed. Less people took railway to Alishan. Recently riding railway has become popular, so there’re more and more people enjoy riding railway to Fenqihu. Nearby the railway is 500 meters long Old Street. Now, the Old Street with centenary history has become a new attraction. In Fenqihu, you can go night exploration of fireflies, put on clogs to taste zesty Bento, and see magnificent Sacred Trees.
II. World-class Railway Construction Methods
In order to overcome the rough terrain, Alishan Forest Railway employs brilliant engineering designs as followings.
Ø Loop Line and Spiral Route: While the railway goes through Duli Mountain(獨立山), train goes circling three times at different heights. In order to lower the railway slope, using this method to go uphill.
Ø Zigzag Switchback: The railway moves forwards and back to go upslope.
Ø The specially-designed hill-climbing locomotive: In the early Steam Railway era, the normal train couldn’t operate well in mountains. Therefore, the special locomotive appeared.
Ø 180-degree U-turn: In order to lower the railway slope, using this method to go uphill. It’s called Ω(Omega) type turn which is a global common Railway Construction Method as well. You can see a big turn while the railway goes from Jhuci Station(竹崎站) to Mujiliau Station(木屐寮站).
Rack Railway is another Railway Construction Method which is not employed to Alishan Railway. You can experience the unique railway construction methods while riding forest railway from Chiayi Station to Fenqihu Station. Now Alishan Forest Railway utilizes four out of the five Construction Methods seen in the mountain railways worldwide. It’s a testimony of being one of the mountain railways in the world with the potential as a world heritage from Taiwan.
III. What can we do in Fenqihu?
You definitely can't miss Bento if you go to Fenqihu! After lunch, Ice Jelly (Aiyu Jelly) is the best choice for you. Mixed with some honey and lemon, it becomes the refreshing summer drink. Ice Jelly which is full of Plant Collagen is made of Jelly Fig.
Therefore, it’s good for skin.
The Grandma’s Caozaiguo (Herbal Cake) is the snack that we’re highly recommended. Its filling is mostly red beans or radish strips, and its exterior is made from Cudweed which is different from the common Caozaiguo. Notice!! Some hottest flavors would sold out soon once the store opens.
Recently, the Crispy Doughnut has become famous there. Brittle surface but soft and chewy once you bite it. Bainianguimu’s (百年檜木) doughnuts nearby the Xiao Nan Trail Exit (肖楠步道口) is best known. Notice!! Check up their opening time before you go. Fenqihu is known throughout Taiwan not only as an eater’s paradise, with plenty of dishes and local specialties to satisfy every palate, but also for its scenic forest trails . Today we’re going to walk two trails. Cedar Boardwalk (杉林棧道), is on the south side of Fenqihu, a narrow road leads from the old street to the 700 meters long trail. Along the trail, you can tall cedars and various ecological sights, and enjoy an invigorating cool natural spa as well. On the north side of Fanqihu is Fenqi Trail(奮起步道) which is around 2000 meters long and is especially pleasant in spring and summer. Walking upwards on the Fenqihu Agricultural Product Exhibition and Sales Center, the settlement can be viewed from the observatory deck; the trail connects to Gao Zai Kan Old Road (糕仔窯古道) on which the foundations of the Japanese colonial era Shrine, steps and stone walls can be saw, and there’s also the remains of an old kiln made of piled up bricks.Go west can connect to Fenrail Historic Trail(奮瑞步道); on the contrary go east can lead to Logging Track (木馬棧道). If you enjoy hiking, we recommend you go Cedar Boardwalk, Fenqi Trail and Logging Track.The whole trails are almost 5 kilometers, takes about 2 hours. Along the trails, you can find something peculiar. They’re respectively Steam locomotive, Square Bamboo, Rhododendron and Earth God temple. If you’d like to know more about Fenquhi, why not go on a trip to Chiayi?!