Fenqihu, Zhuqi Township, Chiayi County 604, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Famous for the “railway lunchbox,” Fenqihu is a historic train station that makes a popular pit-stop on the way to Alishan. Before 1910, there was no road to Alishan as there is today, and the only way to travel between Chiayi City and Alishan was by train, which often took hours. At that time, all the trains coming from the level section would have to stop at some point to replenish water and coal. Fenqihu became the largest stop-off point of Alishan Forest Railways. The train departed in the morning and arrived at Fenqihu at noon. Usually, it took thirty minutes to replenish the supplies, and most passengers would grab a railway lunchbox packed with rice and topped with dishes such as pork chop, chicken drumstick, marinated egg and pickled vegetables. Ever since then, Fenqihu has been known as the “Bento Kingdom.”
However, the economic structural change resulted in the decline of traditional industries such as logging, and Alishan Forest Railway is not as essential as it was when the timber industry was still thriving. Today, the trains no longer carry timber from the forests; instead, they ferry holidaymakers to and fro. Even though visitors could drive there themselves, but most of them would choose to travel on the nostalgic train while being surrounded by the misty forests in a mild temperature. Walking along the 1.2-kilometer-long trail and passing through groves of tortoise-shell bamboo, you will arrive at the ruins of a Japanese shinto shrine hidden in the forest. This short stroll is nice and cool especially in spring and summer. Before leaving Fenqihu, be sure to have a delicious railway lunchbox and take a stroll along the old street. When the night falls, you might even spot little dancing fireflies creating a magical illusion in a completely natural setting of enchanted forests – this will be the experience of a lifetime in early spring.
As tourists started to flood in, the historic neighborhood around Fenqihu Station is getting more and more commercialized. If you are keen on having a real look at this old town, pass through the food court, travel down the time tunnel and back in time to revisit the old Taiwan fifty years ago, where you will see the nostalgic streets, old-fashioned record stores and slogans raised during the years of martial law.