Chirping frogs beneath Mt. Maolan



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After a demanding bike ride yesterday, we didn’t want to spend the next day the same way. So, we changed our means of transportation and chose a new destination – a hike to Mt. Maolan (1020m).

The hill was located on the opposite side of the lake with the starting point in the town of Shuishe. We had already circled the lake by bike and bus, so it was time for a boat ride. Boats on the Sun Moon Lake operate clockwise with three stops. In addition to Shuishe and Ita Thao, they also stop at Xuanguang Temple Pier (a small stop at an even smaller temple with a view). You can buy either a round trip ticket (300TWD), or a one-way ticket (150TWD) – our case. The boats are relatively small, for about 20 people, and one journey takes about 15 minutes.

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Mt. Maolan is easily accessible; you walk comfortably on asphalt with a slight incline most of the time, only at the end does the profile change to “dramatically steep”. Theoretically, you can pass through “Tea Research and Production Station” on the way to the summit (the map on the mobile showed that it might be possible). In practice, they closed the gate in front of us, didn’t want to let us in, and even pointed for us to kindly read THIS RED SIGN IN CHINESE… seriously…? (of course, we have no photo documentation of this situation). They grow their excellent Taiwanese oolong here, and (if allowed) you can walk among tea plantations within arm’s reach (of course, we bypassed the guarded station).

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On Mt. Maolan itself, meteorological station was built, and views from the summit are rather mediocre, especially with mist hovering over the lake. What fascinated us more was the somewhat chaotic wandering of a single praying mantis from the right side of the road to the left. It was quite big, about the size of my palm.

Our return to Ita Thao was quick, so we went to see how the local frogs predict the weather here.

About 2km to the right of Ita Thao, near the bike path, there are 9 stone frogs sitting in the water. People believe they are an indicator of drought in the country – the more frogs you see, the less water in the lake, and the more exposed the country is to drought. Myth and superstition. In 1944, dams were built in Shuishe and Toushe. The lake serves as a reservoir. Hydropower plants pump water into smaller reservoirs below as needed, or back into the lake. So, even though you can sometimes see all 9 frogs, there’s no need to panic that Taiwan is turning into a desert. 😊



  • The passage through “Tea Research and Production Station” was supposed to go smoothly, as we walked on the same path the whole time, and from the map, the area seemed to lead through a small village, but on the spot, the guard (maybe even a policeman, hard to say) threw a spanner in the works, quickly ran to the guardhouse by the road, closed the gate, and started pointing at the sign next to it… we were very close to pass through that gate, because it was open, everything was quiet, nobody around, it would be difficult to explain to people in charge how two Europeans got inside a guarded facility, and maybe Andy and I would then be in the news.



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