As we were heading to Lala Shan, I realized I didn’t know what was Lala Shan at all. I thought it was a touristic place like many other I had seen, with an old street, slightly old-fashion, full of more-or-less modern shops selling more-or-less appealing goods. I thought this was the kind of place where you spend a Sunday afternoon.
But as we made our two hours and a half way through the road, 60 km of laces going always deeper in the Taoyuan county’s mountain, it became evident that this was not specifically the kind of place I was thinking about.
Our home was a nice guest house located at the bottom of a valley next to a mountain stream-we arrived there at night and enjoyed the feeling of this remote, traditional style place. We didn’t really know where we were and it looked like the mountain had swallowed our normal environment to replace it by a simple, vegetal one.
Lala means beautiful in aboriginal language, and the place is truly beautiful, an otherworldly, savage beauty that doesn’t offer itself easily. It is famous since a professor discovered there in 1973 some «holy trees» aka red cypresses that majestuously give the land its soul. Some of those are more than 2000 years old. Some years later, a national reserve was opened to let visitors admire those trees, and the result is a nice, well protected area, slightly out-of-place in the savage beauty of Lala Shan.
It is hard to understand how those trees landed there, they don’t really merge with the rest of the forest-their shape and color make them stand out in the vegetation, and they also look much more vigorous. When you reach the park, you stroll under the vegetation along a 1 to 2 hours path where you can see several dozens of those trees, like a bizarre council of elders ruling the forest. As we visited the park at a time where it was still sunny, but the night was falling rapidly and fog was coming, we really enjoyed some great atmosphere and mysterious ambiance.
Our stay in Lala Shan was made even more mysterious by the heavy fog that started in the evening, and hid the landscape in a spectacular way-it was just impossible to see more than a few meters away and that gave me a very special feeling of being even more lost-this was something unique that struck me as magical-we stopped in the Kala Buluo, a small village on our way down to our guest house, and spent some time chatting with aboriginal children and visiting the two churches, an old one full of charm and a modern one in the shape of a boat full or hope-someone was playing music inside deep into the night when we went there.
So as I was walking on the mysterious, beautiful, wild roads of Lala Shan I was thinking that this has been my life indeed over the last few years, a life of travels, always following a road no matter where it led, and discovering along the way.