Unexpected Sunrise

Written by Finlay Scanlon, (University of Texas at Austin) Student Correspondent CET Taiwan, Spring 2019

Ali Shan National Park is known for its sunrises. I don’t know how one place can be known for the sun more than any other, seeing as it seems to be the same sun that rises over every horizon, but nevertheless. The pictures I’d seen online showed glowing, green hills and misty forests illuminated by the 5 am sun. To see this 5 am spectacle, we had to get up at 3:45 to get on the 4 am train that would bring us up to the top of the mountain. It was the most crowded I had ever seen a train, especially for middle-of-nowhere in the middle of the night. It twisted and bumped along the track, carefully gaining altitude.

Crowded Bus to the Sunrise Overlook

Although it’s summer in Taiwan, it was cold at the top due to the elevation. It looked cloudy, but I didn’t know to what extent because of the still pitch-black state of the sky. We bought tea from a seller and shivered waiting for the impending brightness. Suddenly, a hilarious old man belted out of a megaphone. He wore a name tag and to my understanding, he was a tour guide for this sunrise experience. He talked to his group about the history of Ali Shan and all the amazing natural elements of the park. Then he said, as much as you all would like to see the sunrise, we haven’t seen the sun here for 10 days.

The clouds have been perpetually covering from mountain to sky and so it will become lighter without the classic pink and red majesty. There was a collective awe, seeing as the only reason we had gotten up at this ungodly hour was to see those colors. However, as the sun began to shine through the clouds something else happened. The mist and clouds settled and seem to glow themselves over the hills. Although we could see the sun it was working through the other natural features to give us the show we came for.

Studying abroad will not be what you expect. The things you imagine and plan for may happen or they may not. But do have faith that the things that will happen will be even better than what you thought.