By now, you may be asking what is mud volcano tofu? One of the most popular attractions in the Luoshan Recreation Area is its mud volcanoes. Although they sound impressive, they are actually small pools of mud bubbling up from underground. The mud that is produced is rich in minerals. Water from these mud pools is collected and filtered and used to make tofu. This not only creates a richer taste, but also a firmer texture.
The 10.8-kilometer Luoshan Bikeway begins at the Luoshan Visitor Center. It is a beautiful ride, but it is winding and uphill most of the way, and sometimes narrow. Thus, this cycling path is recommended for those with an above average physical fitness level and with some cycling experience.
It was not until the mid to late 20th century that Taiwan jade began to be intensely mined. Between 1962 and 1986, more than 11,000 metric tons were mined, accounting for 60% of the global nephrite production. It may come as a surprise that Taiwan nephrite was once famous worldwide.
The overwhelming majority of residents of the Dili Community, situated in Xinyi Township of central Taiwan's Nantou County, are indigenous Bunun. The official population is around 1,000, but a much smaller number lives here year round, as mostly the young people have had to leave in search of study and employment opportunities. Many of the remaining residents carry out farming. This community is a few minutes' drive from two other Bunun communities Shuanglong and Tannan (see the Shuanglong Community: Bunun culture and waterfall and river adventures and Tannan Community: Modern graffiti, cultural revival articles in this section). It is also a short drive to the popular tourist destination, Sun Moon Lake. Thus, it is easy to spend a few days in this area enjoying its natural and cultural attractions.
The communities located adjacent to Hualien County's largest natural lake, Liyutan, are home to the indigenous Amis tribe. Some of the residents of these communities have opened guesthouses, restaurants and handicrafts workshops, allowing visitors access to their culture.
With deep blue waters surrounded by dark green mountains, this lake was once a popular destination especially for people traveling between Hualien and Taitung through the East Rift Valley. However, as roads for faster travel were constructed, bypassing this lake, it became somewhat forgotten. This means that this is a place to enjoy outdoor recreation and beautiful natural scenery without the crowds.
Although now in closer proximity to mainstream cultures and lifestyles, the Bunun have been working hard to preserve their language and ways of life, including their traditional ceremonies related to hunting and the growing of millet, once a staple grain. Once rice was introduced by Han Chinese immigrants, it gradually replaced millet. However, in recent years, there has been a revival of millet culture and growing. Although there are many indigenous Bunun communities in Taitung County that are well worth visiting, two are introduced here.
Guanshan Town, located in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung County has some great attractions including a water park, picturesque bikeway and pastoral landscapes. But, what if you have some time before your train departs from Guanshan station? Or, what if you just want to explore the center of Guanshan? What is there to do?
The Guanshan Farmer's Association is responsible for promoting the agricultural products of this town, which is located in the high quality rice-growing belt of Taitung County, in the East Rift Valley. As such, this association has developed a visitor center to display and sell local agricultural products, just beside Provincial Highway 9, the main road that connects Hualien and Taitung in this valley.
In this township of only 10,000 residents, it is these features that attract tourists. But, move away from these rice paddies, off the beaten path, and you will find some unique places. In this article, three are introduced.
In 2015, graffiti artists from around Taiwan and the world came to this sleepy hillside community to create murals on the walls of homes and other buildings as part of the POW! WOW! Taiwan festival. POW! WOW! is a global network of artists that come together to participate in gallery shows, lecture series, mural projects and live art installations. The main venue is in Hawaii, but events have also been organized in other areas of the US, as well as in Taiwan, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, New Zealand and Germany. This high quality artwork has remained somewhat of a secret, but for those interested in contemporary murals, this is a must-see destination.
Taiwan has a history of more than 150 years of tea cultivation, and has developed a reputation for producing high quality teas. As most of this island is covered in undulating hills and towering mountains, there are many areas well suited to the growing of tea. The East Rift Valley, nestled between two major mountain ranges, is blessed with fertile soil and crystal clear mountain spring water. Many crops grow well here, including tea. In and around Luye Township of Taitung County, five varieties of tea can be found: Jinxuan, also known as Milk Oolong; Foshou; Oolong; Red Oolong and Honey-flavored Black Tea.
The most well known tourist site in Luye Township, located in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung County and the southern part of the East Rift Valley, is the Luye Plateau. This is the venue for Taitung County's hot air balloon festival, held every summer. However, year round it is an excellent paragliding destination. Best of all, you don't need much advance planning. You can sign up when you arrive.
The roads are fairly flat in Chishang, which has led to the development of cycling. As the most famous roads are off limits to vehicles, except by local residents, it is necessary to cycle or to walk. There are many options for cycling including manual two-wheelers, electric bikes, electric scooters and electric-powered carriages that carry four, as well as many rental shops. Exploring this area on bicycle allows you to enjoy its beauty up close.
Longtian Village is a quaint rural community, part of which is laid out in a checkerboard pattern. It was developed during the Japanese occupation period (1895-1945) and was home to mainly Japanese residents at that time. There are currently six wooden buildings from that era still standing in this community. That is why a visit to this area is like going back in time.
Guanshan Town is located in the northern part of Taitung County, in the East Rift Valley, which lies between two major mountain ranges. This may make it sound like cycling here is very strenuous. Although there are challenging rides available, the plains between the mountain ranges are fairly flat and fertile. They are filled with countless rice paddies and farms, providing the perfect backdrop for a leisurely bike ride and vacation getaway.
The Wuling Green Tunnel Bikeway is located in Luye Township of Taitung County. There are a number of bike routes along the East Rift Valley, each with unique features. The main characteristic of this 4.5-kilometer bikeway is a section of green tunnel, meaning roadway lined by camphor and beefwood trees that are around 60 years old. Much of this bikeway is quite flat, making it easy to ride, even for families.
The Shuanglong Community has a lot to offer in terms of ecotourism and cultural tourism opportunities, and a visit here can be combined with an in-depth exploration of Sun Moon Lake and other areas of Nantou County.
When asked what there is to do in central Yuli, Taiwanese tourists will often think of Yuli noodles, simple noodle soup dishes served in simple eateries around the train station. Thinking that is the only attraction, it may be easy to write off this town center as just a place to pass through. But, if you take the chance to explore it in depth, you will find that it holds a number of pleasant surprises.
The Yufu Bikeway begins in central Yuli Town, where there are bicycle rental shops available. Once away from town, there are vast rural landscapes. It is not long, around three kilometers or so, before you come to the old railway bridge. Stop here to take a photo of yourself with one foot on the Eurasian Plate side and the other foot on the Philippine Sea Plate side. Two large hearts have been set up here for couples to place padlocks, a symbol of their lasting love.
The East Rift Valley is surrounded by two major mountain ranges, the Central and Coastal mountain ranges, but in the center it is flat. This makes for leisurely bike riding. The Ruisui Bikeway is suited to all ages, with some minor undulations, and requires only an average fitness level. It can be completed in a little over an hour without too many stops.
The Guangfu Bikeway is located in Guangfu Township of Hualien County and can easily be reached by car or bus, along Provincial Highway 9, which runs through the beautiful East Rift Valley. This 15.9-kilometer bikeway is suited to anyone of average fitness. Due to its ease it is recommended for families and due to its diversity of romantic views it is also recommended for couples.
The beautiful East Rift Valley is a stretch of fertile land that extends from Hualien County in the north to Taitung County in the south and is framed by the Central and Coastal mountain ranges. There are rice paddies, farmland, rivers, hills and mountains to explore. The best part is that there are not only activities for adults to enjoy such as paragliding, indigenous and Hakka culture, and long-distance cycling, but also many activities for children of all ages. The East Rift Valley provides many opportunities for the whole family to experience farm life and indigenous culture, all while having fun.
Due to this community's geographical location, it has developed a unique estuary culture and a close relationship with the Xiuguluan River and Pacific Ocean. The source of this river is Xiuguluan Mountain, in the Coastal Mountain Range. It is the longest river in eastern Taiwan, measuring 81 kilometers in length. The entire river system stretches some 104 kilometers. Due to the rich marine resources and diverse estuary ecology, over time the residents of this community have developed unique fishing methods, such as the use of a triangular fishing net. In the very early morning, even before the sun comes up, residents of this community can be seen along the shore, using this type of net to fish in between the wave crests.
Originally, this school was established to preserve traditions and knowledge, and to pass them on to the younger generation of Amis. However, many non-Amis expressed an interest in learning about traditional culture and lifestyles. Thus, this hunter school began to develop a series of cultural tourism and ecotourism activities.
The Jinyue Community, called Ropwe in the indigenous Atayal language, is located in Nanao Township of Yilan County, in northeastern Taiwan. As it is situated along Provincial Highway 9, known as the Suhua Highway, which connects Suao in Yilan to Hualien, this community can be easily included in an exploration of the cultural and natural beauty of eastern Taiwan.
From his home in the Luanshan Community of Yanping Township, Taitung County, Wu Gun, a woodcarver from the indigenous Bunun tribe, shares his art and culture with visitors. The Luanshan Community is located along Taitung County Road 197, a picturesque two-lane thoroughfare that reaches the outskirts of Taitung City.
The indigenous Bunun Gufeng Community is located in Zhuoxi Township, the southernmost indigenous township in Hualien County. This community is well known for its efforts to preserve Pasibutbut, a traditional polyphonic chant that surprised many music theory scholars when it was heard outside of Taiwan for the first time more than half a century ago. Pasibutbut refers to prayer for a bountiful millet harvest, sung during the millet planting ceremony to entertain the tribal deities and make them happy so that they will bless the new crop. This was one of the first communities in this township to promote Pasibutbut and its associated traditions in an effort to build up indigenous creative and cultural industries and sustainable tourism.
In the summer, the rolling green hills of Liushidan Mountain in Fuli Township of Hualien County come alive in color with the blooming of bright orange daylilies. As you may imagine, during the harvest season, this mountain becomes crowded with tourists seeking photo opportunities of this annual exhibition of Mother Nature, the artist. But, the colorful daylilies are not the only reason to visit this mountain. There is an amazing community of indigenous people here who have insisted on preserving their traditions.
Arriving in Taoyuan Village, located in Yanping Township of Taitung County, pride in the rich history and culture of the indigenous Bunun tribe can quickly be seen and felt. All around this community are explanatory panels with descriptions of various aspects of Bunun culture. Outside a guesthouse is a wood carving of a traditional Bunun calendar, decorated with traditional symbols for various annual hunting and millet cultivation activities.
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