Three unique attractions of Taitung County's Chishang Township
By Cheryl Robbins
Chishang Township, located in southeastern Taiwan's Taitung County, is known for its vast, unobstructed views of rice paddies that jut up against towering, cloud-topped mountains. The flat, straight roadways that crisscross these paddies have become popular cycling paths. (For more information, see the Small town cycling in Chishang article in this section.) Near harvest time, in late June and late October, these paddies are filled with tall, golden rice spikes that sway to and fro in the gentle breezes. This is some of the best rice produced in all of Taiwan.
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.
Most people associate Chishang with the Hakka culture, as during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), Japanese authorities noticed the Hakka's great skill at farming and encouraged them to move into this area to grow sugarcane, and then pineapples, and finally rice.
Unique Indigenous Community Kitchen - Yao Gun Ba! Buluo
This township is also home to the indigenous Amis tribe. The Amis have preserved their traditional knowledge of the use of plants. Wild edible greens are common to the menus of Amis community restaurants. Yao Gun Ba! Buluo is no exception. This outdoor eatery complete with lawn, stone-ringed pond and wood burning oven is located in the Luan Community of Chishang's Dapu Village, which is along the connecting road to the Southern Cross-Island Highway, but still in close proximity to central Chishang. This eatery was built in 2013 by local residents to provide employment opportunities for local residents. In addition to wild greens, this community kitchen also purchases ingredients from local, small farms.
Visitors can make wild greens dumplings or their pizza, which is cooked in the wood burning oven. This eatery is open every day except Monday. For reservations and information, call 0935-685593.
Unique Tofu Eatery - Dah Chi Bean Curd Sheets
This is both a factory and an eatery with a history of 53 years, located in central Chishang. Here, bean curd sheets are made by hand. Canadian non-GMO soybeans are soaked overnight. In the morning, they are ground, placed in molds and filtered over heat, until the sheets form. Some skins are dried and sold for use in hot pot or stir fry. The remainder is served fresh (NT$65 for four pieces). Also on the menu are tofu pudding with brown sugar and soymilk (without sugar or a small amount of added sugar). While waiting for your order, you can watch the bean curd sheets being formed, then removed from the molds and hung up to dry. This is a very popular place for breakfast and often sells out by late morning. Tel: 089-862392
Unique Knife Maker - Fu Yuan Metalsmithing Workshop
If you thought that the bean curd sheet maker with its decades-old methods was a blast from the past, make sure to visit the Fu Yuan Metalsmithing Workshop, also situated in central Chishang. Here, knives are made completely by hand. The workshop's owner, Zheng Ming-Sheng, now in his sixties, learned his craft from one of his uncles who started this business. Zheng heats metal in the coal burning furnace, which can reach up to 1600oC to make it pliable and able to be shaped by pounding. As the metal cools off quickly, this process must be repeated several times. Zheng explains the process as he works. He accepts custom orders but also sells cleavers, indigenous-style knives and sickles that he makes in his shop. If unable to buy a sharp blade to take home, handmade key chains in the shapes of knives or shovels are sold as souvenir items. Tel: 0933-865919
If you are looking for a unique place to stay overnight, the site of the former sugar refinery in Chishang is now a resort. The Chih-Shiang Pastoral Resort, instead of a swimming pool and spa, possesses a miniature zoo. Bicycles can be rented to tour the more than 100 hectares of grounds, where you will see goats, spotted deer, ostriches, zebras and hippos housed here as part of a cooperative agreement with the Taipei Zoo. Tel: 089-862736