It started off as a short trip with one of the Japanese girls from the hostel to get her last paycheck one day back in February, and it turned into an all day adventure that had us experiencing the new and hopefully unforgettable sights, sounds, and tastes of Shi-Yang.
We took a short 20 minute train ride into Xizhi from Taipei Main Station and then walked around the town while we waited for the small bus that would take us to the tea house/restaurant.
The bus ride took about 40-45 minutes, but I didn’t mind at all. I got to enjoy the green scenery as we climbed higher and deeper into the mountain side.
Umbrellas left in a small shelter in case you needed to borrow one. Only in Taiwan.
Once we arrived at our stop, we walked down a steep hill, rounded a corner, and found ourselves crossing a small wooden bridge over a small stream. The site was so private, surrounded by so many trees and beautiful ponds and plants that there’s no way chance you could accidentally stumble upon it. The main house had 2 levels; the top level had a large balcony with airy open tea/dining rooms and the bottom level had a long narrow hallway in the center, with small private rooms on one side and larger open rooms to the other.
As we were about to say good-bye to Hitomi’s old coworkers they invited us to have lunch with them. I filled up my bowl with rice, glass noodles, tofu, mushrooms, eggplant, and some other veggies and joined them at one of the outdoor tables that overlooked a small stream.
Lunch was followed up by a slightly informal private tea ceremony where we tasted a black tea and an oolong tea.
Afterward, Hitomi lead us on a small tour of the rest of the property which consisted of quite a few tea houses set further away from the main house. What I loved about all of the tea houses was how they invited nature in. Most of them had floor to ceiling glass walls that could fully retract to allow the cool mountain breeze in. Even the bathrooms had nature in mind with the sinks set out in the open facing the lush green trees.
We walked around the property some more and finished up our tour hiking up the side of the mountain to the last and largest tea house. It was 2 stories with a pond full of koi fish on one side and beautiful mountain views from the second floor.
At the last tea house we were surprised by another one of Hitomi’s old coworkers when he gave us some freshly made tea and we enjoyed it overlooking the beautiful scenery.
I think what I enjoyed the most out of the visit was the soft breeze and calmness surrounding the area. The tatame mats muffled the sounds of feet, the floor to ceiling glass walls could be fully retracted letting in the fresh mountain air, and the views were spectacular. Everywhere we went we also enjoyed beautiful cut flowers, the smell of subtle incense and the soft sounds of chanting or music in all of the rooms.
Being up there made me think of all of my friends and family that I wish I could have there with me, knowing that they too would have enjoyed this place as much as I did.