A walk along the historic Danlan Trail

TRANSPORT:  See link no 4 in the Website Links section


2 Responses to “Walk 5. GOLDEN CHARACTERS TABLET”

  1. 1 Sara K. September 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm


    After buying your book, this is the first walk I tried because you listed it as one of the easier walks. Well, it was fantastic. As soon as I arrived in Houtong station, I marvelled at the beauty of the hills and the river valley. I saw many beautiful butterflies. The ascent was atmospheric, the Golden Letters themselves are a cool historical relic. I was surprised that I was able to see all the way to Keelung (at least I thought it was Keelung – I didn’t see the Guanyin statue so I wasn’t completely sure) – a very cool surprise mind you. Standing at the summit was one of my favourite moments – fantastic views, the wind blowing the plants in every which way, etc. The descent was also visually stunning, looking down into the forest from the rural road, as well as walking by the stream on the way down.

    There were, however, a few things I’d like to note:

    1) It was a moist day, so between the summit and the country road the steps were extremely slippery, made worse by the fact there was a lot of plant debris on the steps. Even though I had slip-resistant shoes, I had to hold onto the railing (at least there *was* a railing) to prevent myself from falling.

    2) By the viewing platform on the road, I encountered two stray dogs together. One of them was not so bad, but the bitch (I know it was female because I got a really good look) barked at me for a good 15 minutes at least, getting closer and closer all of the time. Even when the bitch finally stopped barking, I had to move very slowly, and she followed me for far longer than strays usually follow me. To make things worse, I was concerned that, while paying attention to the dogs, I wasn’t paying enough attention to cars and trucks, and as the dogs were in the middle of the road, I was worried about them too (even though they were harassing me, I didn’t want them to become roadkill). Eventually, though, the bitch stopped following me. I later encountered another stray dog around Datzukeng, but it was more scared of me than I was of it, so it was not a problem.

    Are stray dogs common on the walks? Are stray dogs as aggressive as that bitch common on the walks? Do you have any particular advice for dealing with aggressive stray dogs?

    3) It would have been nice if you had mentioned in the guide that Houtong is the first station after Ruifang. I got on one of those local trains which only announce the stop by audio, and only right before the stop, so I was a bit concerned about missing the stop. Otherwise, I thought your directions were excellent and easy to follow.

    This is a long comment, but this wonderful walk truly deserves many words – and I wanted to explain my issues because I do want people to go on this walk as well prepared as possible.

  2. 2 Richard September 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the walk so much, and that you had such fantastic weather. And I agree, that path from the top of the ridge down to the road can be very slippery when moist. Thanks for mentioning that!
    As for aggressive stay dogs, I’ve only once or twice felt mildly threatened, and never on this walk. The best way to deal with them in my experience is not to look straight at them, try not to walk straight around them, and if you feel they might lunge, make a show of picking up a couple of small stones or a stick: you won’t need to use it, but carrying something does make the dog realize it’s not worth trying to attack.
    Thanks very much for the feedback, which I’m sure will be useful for anyone reading it before trying the walk!

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