Taiwan's East Rift Valley: Fun for the whole family
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 other activities for children of all ages. The East Rift Valley provides a diversity of opportunities for the whole family to experience farm life and indigenous culture, all while having fun.
Spend some time on a working dairy farm
Jizheng Ranch is located in Ruisui Township of Hualien County. It can be reached by following the road behind the Ruisui Rafting Services Center along an embankment of the Xiuguluan River. At first glance there is a large, white building with red roof and an area of grass dotted with cow statues. This is a working dairy farm with plenty to see and taste. The milk produced here is touted by locals for its great quality, and it seems to have such a following that there isn't enough milk to go around to other parts of Taiwan. So, it's best to sample the freshly produced milk, milk pudding and milk nougat while here. But, what the kids are most likely to be interested in is a visit to the collection of animals, such as Shetland ponies, goats and, of course, cows.
Take the Pineapple Express
Also in Ruisui Township, located near the Fuyuan Train Station, is the Fuxing Community. This community is famed for its pineapples. To revive the local pineapple culture and bring more economic opportunities to its residents, the community has undergone major landscaping and beautification. Visitors can walk around the community and enjoy the scenery, including pond, grasslands and pineapple fields, all against a backdrop of verdant mountains. Or, they can climb aboard a small gauge rail train which stops at points of interest. This tour can be completed in about 30 or 40 minutes. For a more in-depth experience, there is a nearly one hour tour by tractor-pulled train. Both trains start from the community's Pineapple Garden, which features detailed information about this fruit, as well as cute, cartoon-like tree stump figures.
Fish with Indigenous People Along the Xiuguluan River
The indigenous Amis community of Ceroh (Zhiluo in Chinese) is located in Yuli Town in the southern part of Hualien County. This is one of the few remaining places in Taiwan that is growing arrowroot. Arrowroot produces a starchy gelatin that can be used to produce a number of desserts and is a healthier alternative to tapioca or other starches. Families can head to one of the community's farms to help harvest arrowroot. They can then cool off in a shallow part of the Xiuguluan River. There, residents demonstrate how to catch fish using a net, and allow visitors to try it for themselves. They may even catch their own lunch! The cuisine that is served here is based on locally obtained foods and prepared by the women of the community, including fresh river fish and wild greens.
All in all, a trip to the East Rift Valley with your family is sure to be filled with healthy foods, fresh air, natural beauty, diverse experiences and happy times.