A different hiking
First preparations on the evening before, on July 24thwith Chun Yu Liao : my translator and my friend . Of course, we had to check if we didn’t forget the most important stuff : the sleeping bag, light, dry clothes, rains clothes, and all of that wrapped in plastic bag to keep it dry .
Liao works at the Lintian forest office for one years, because he does his military service here. But he speaks very well English as soon as I arrived in office on the begining of July, he helped me . It’s why he came with me during these two days, it’s great because I do like to get along with him .
So, we are now on the 25th, 10 am, waiting for Mr Fang, MrHoo, the man called Luckyand other staff members to go to the Silin forest . Almost all of them are aborigines, who do have lots of knowledge about forest, its fauna and flora .These guys have the mission to check if nobody logging wood illegally in forest . Indeed, Silin forest belongs to National forestry bureau, that make this area protected . They will have a four-days trip, but, Liao and I will just stay one day and one night, and then we come back with one of them .
It took us about one hour by car to reach the start point. As soon as we got there, we decided to eat before we leave. I get one typical Taiwan lunch box they brought for us, and then my stomach was such full that I didn’t know if I would be able to move on .
But all good things came to an end, and we started to hike in the forest, while our driver went back to the office. Quickly, we came to the end of the so-called way, and aborigine staff membersstarted to create a new road through wild grasses, using machete. However, they assured us that they know the right way from their heart , so we just followed themand admiredlandscape. Indeed, weather forecast announced big rain, but we were lucky, and sky wasclear. We could see valleys and others mountains, surrounded by clouds which wasbeautiful.
We finally came to an old road that used to be taken by people for the deforestation. This is now covered by grass and plant but we could see some road signs that show us there was a road here before. Then we had to walk for one hours left on this way, through streams, mud and plant . After a while, we decided to have a break for few minutes, and it was a good opportunity for me to discover several leeches on my pants and on my shoes . For me, it was the first time I’m dealing with this kind of animals, because now in France, almost all leeches have disappeared. But they explainedto me that it wasno dangerous, so I played with, as a child, putting them in my arms, feeding with my own blood, until they became full and wentaway ! But there was a thing I didn’t know : to suck our blood, their saliva contains one element that prevent blood coagulate . So, even if leeches weren’t on myarm sucking me anymore, I kept onblooding !
Here, therewere 20 minutes left before we reached our final destination .While walking , we heard the sound of chirping. It was really weird . I guessed that they made this chirping with their wings, because I know in France a kind of insect that make a sound like that use their wings in unity. This sound become more and more noisy for 7 or 8 seconds, then it stop for one or two seconds. And it begins again and again …
At last we reached the refuge, Liao and I were unpleasantly surprised to discover the poor conditions of this . Indeed, there were a lot of trash in the house, that might be left by last people who came here . Furthermore, several part of the refuge were broken . But it didn’t fear us, and we immediately made ourselves work . We hanged out a tarpaulin above our bed, to protect us from rain, because the roof wasn’t waterproof . We were right, because during the night, it rained cats and dogs !!! We also had to clean up the house, brought back water from the stream close to the refuge, washed cooking tools left here, found wood to light fire to warm up ourselves .Indeed, here, it was the first time I felt cold in Taiwan ! Fortunately, I brought warm clothes for this trip . As soon as it was done, we started to cook noodles and vegetables we had in our bags . We even ate sausages and pig ‘s skin cooked with the fire we lit . Even in the forest, it’s important to have a good meal !!!
Liao and I talked for a while with others staff members and, doing that, I learnt a lot about aborigine’s culture . More than in one month I spent in Taiwan .
But, the sleep time arrived earlier than I thought, and even if the so-called beds weren’t comfortable at all, I slept wellin theend .
On the morning we got up at 6am . We cooked rice and vegetable for the breakfast, and they used it for their lunch too! But we didn’t eat the lunch with them because we had to come back. But before we left each other, we followed them for one half hour to see a bamboo forest . And that was really beautiful, I had never seen something like that before. But we couldn’t linger for hours, because, one car waited for us at 11am, at the same place where we started the day before. Going back, the aborigine staff members who came with us showed us a kind of vegetable that only grow in mountains . So, he explained us how to recognize it and where we can find it ( I mean close to a specific kind of plant for example ) . I picked up this vegetable and I cooked it for others volunteers who stayed at the office . Furthermore, I discovered what wasabi plant look like .
To conclude, I just want to say I’m very happy . So I want to thank the Wanrong Office staff members and the director who let me have this experience . It was a great experience, I learnt a lot . I had good teachers, aborigines staff members, who knew the dangers of the forest, and how to go through .
Hiking for few days, to my mind, is another way to discover Taiwan, and it’s maybe the only way to beawareofthebiodiversityofTaiwan.
Tourat Jerome, volontaire international pour l’office national des forets