As our comfortable, air-conditioned bus left the frenzy of Taichung behind, we soon began to see scenery which took us back to the old days,  Along a streambed on the outskirts of Taichung, a herd of water buffalo grazed contentedly in lush grass.  As we climbed the broad highway to Puli, we saw the familiar stony riverbeds, and lush valleys with rice fields and banana plantations.  Roadside stands sold many varieties of bananas, including the stubby apple bananas we loved so well. 

Our highway had straightened the many tortuous curves we remembered and in about an hour we passed Puli, and twenty minutes later came over the hill to a sweeping view of Sun Moon Lake. 

We went directly to the top of the hill above the village, where the Evergreen Hotel used to stand.  The Evergreen was destroyed in the Taichung earthquake, and a world class hotel, The Lalu Hotel, has replaced it.  This architecturally stunning masterpiece has simple lines, infinity pools and almost demands that one pause in contemplation from its many peaceful vantage points.  Across the road, the Teachers Hostel is very much unchanged.  The annex and cabins are gone.

We paused at the Lalu for lunch in a private dinning room and felt our pulses settle down as we absorbed the tranquility of the lake.  

500 Step Temple in background.

Then it was time to hike down the familiar road to the village.  We began to realize that the lines of the lake are essentially unchanged.  The buildings are new, but mostly occupy the same space that they did before.  We were greatly pleased to find a place so familiar.

We took a boat across to the island and puzzled as to why its profile was so different.  As we got close, we realized that it was surrounded by floating gardens of white ginger.  We could walk on these islands and were given a vantage point of the island.  It was damaged by the earthquake and is presently closed to the public.  Yet, its look was familiar and brought back memories of picnics, swims and camping trips.
The aborigine village was a bit bigger, and some of the buildings sported satellite dishes, but they were not yet selling silicon wafers among the bamboo flutes.  The prices were reasonable, and most of us picked up a souvenir or two, and then cooled down with one of the excellent frozen teas available.

We talked with some of the shopkeepers and found some that had been selling wares there when we used to walk those muddy streets.  Their grandchildren still pose for pictures as they did long ago.

For the 31 of us who frequented the lake as young people, the day's excursion was a success.  We had found a place which was familiar and which represented some of our happiest times in Taiwan.  "It's so good to be back home again ..."

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