SOUTH OF TAIPEI

SOUTH OF TAIPEI

Yinhko (an hour southwest of Taipei) is a tiny town and Taiwan's foremost pottery center. Some pottery factories offer free tours. Shops sell a wide variety of ceramics and porcelain, from simple earthenware tea sets to delicate hand-painted replicas of Ming and Qing dynasty vases.

Sanhsia (near Yingko) is an old town with a temple originally built in 1770 that is famous for its intricately carved stone and bronze columns and statues, carved stone lions, camphor wood carvings and exquisite bronze bas-reliefs.

Chungli (32 kilometers southwest of Taipei) is situated on the Hsin Chien River in northwestern Taiwan. It is one of northwestern Taiwan's principal industrial cities. Factories in Chungli produce textiles and milled rice. Sweet potatoes, rice, and tea are grown near the city. A major freeway and railway connects Chungli with Taipei, which is located approximately. Chungli had a population of 314,000 in 1998. Current population figures are unavailable.

The 17-kilometer stretch of coastline from Nanliao Village south to Nangang in Hsinchu City brings together several visit-worthy destinations, including the Nanliao Recreation Wharf, Sea Park, Horizon Viewing Area, Nangang Canal, Mangrove Park, Splendor Coastline, Haishan Harbor Sea View Platform, Nangang Bird Watching Area, and the visitor center. Spectacular views, delicious local cuisine, recreations and cultural attractions all await at Hsinchu City's premier coastal hot spot.

Getting There by Public Transport: 1. TRA Hsinchu Station Hsinchu City Bus (No. 11A) to Haipudi stop; 2. TRA Hsinchu Station Hsinchu City Bus (No. 15) to Hsinchu Fishing Unit stop. By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Zhubei Interchange County Hwy 120 Prov. Hwy 1 Prov. Hwy 68 Prov. Hwy 15; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Zhulin Interchange County Hwy 68 Prov. Hwy 15.

Wulai

Wulai (an hour's drive south of Taipei) is an aboriginal enclave where visitors can see traditional dances and ceremonies of Taiwan's Atayal tribe, enjoy a beautiful waterfall cascading through lush vegetation, and take a cable car ride to a mountain resort. Wulai is a famous mountain village in northern Taiwan located in water reservation area. Residents are mostly aboriginal people of the Atayal Tribe. There are high mountains near where the of Nanshi River and Tonghou River meet. The place is famous for hot springs, a trail train, waterfalls and Yunxian Holiday Resort.

The famous Wulai Waterfall is about 80 meters high. It is said it looks like a white silk cloth coming down from the sky. The trail train used to be used for transportation of lumber but now it carries tourists pleasure. The aboriginal culture center across Wulai Waterfall is a remodeled museum of aboriginal folk art. It introduces the aboriginal culture, customs and habits of Atayal Tribe and displays some of their historical artifacts. The highlight of the visit to the center is the singing and dancing show.

Wulai was settled by Atayal tribes from the Taoyuan and Hsinchu areas during the late Qing period. This area is consequently known for its Atayal cuisines, which emphasize the original flavor of the ingredients without too much heavy-flavor sauce. Commonly used dipping sauces include fermented shiso (perilla) and plum juice or honey; and steaming, boiling and roasting are the preferred cooking techniques. All of the ingredients used are sourced from the nearby mountain areas. Unlike many other indigenous groups that like to eat "a-bay" (a concoction made of shellflower leaves, nicandra leaves wrapped around glutinous rice, boar meat, mushrooms and dried shrimp), the Atayal stuffings are made of sweet potato rice, banana rice or Chinese yam rice without pork or soy sauce. The resulting dishes are refreshingly tasty and healthy.

Getting There by Public Transport: THSR Taipei Station (or TRA Taipei Station) Take Sindian Bus (bound for Wulai) to Wulai Station. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at Xindian Interchange Sec. 2, Zhongxing Rd. to Sec. 1, Zhongxing Rd. Provincial Highway Route 9 Provincial Highway Route 9A Wulai Bridge Wenquan St. Pubu Rd; Address: No. 34, Pubu Rd, Wulai Village, Wulai District, New Taipei City, Tel: [886]-(2)-2661-6355. Tourist Office: Wulai Visitor Center, No.45-1, Wulai St, Wulai Dist, New Taipei City, Tel: [886]-(2)-2661-6355.

Wulai Hot Springs

Wulai hot springs (in Wulai District of New Taipei City) produces weakly alkaline carbonic acid water at temperatures of 55 to 80 degrees Celsius. The name Wulai is said to have come from the Atayal word for "hot springs." The water is clear, colorless, odorless, slightly alkaline, with sodium bicarbonate. It is said that bathing in it keeps the skin moist. Wulai boasts the largest free-of-charge hot-spring area in Taiwan. It is especially popular in early spring, when red cherry blossoms fill the mountainsides so that visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery as they soak in the hot springs and bask in the romance of the Atayal aborigines.

The Wulai Hot Springs were first discovered in Wulai over 300 years ago by the Atayal people. The springs, which emerge from from the Nanshi River valley, are known as "beauty baths" since the water softens cuticles and moisturizes the skin. In earlier times, the bathhouses here only provided basic facilities. Today, however, visitors can choose from a wide range of upscale spas with hydrotherapy facilities and an inviting ambiance. Most of the bathhouses in Wulai are clustered on the Wulai Street, but newer establishments are also popping up along the Provincial Highway 9A and in the Wulai Village. Getting There by Public Transport: THSR Taipei Station (TRA Taipei Station) Take Sindian Bus (bound for Wulai) to Wulai Station. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at Xindian Interchange Sec. 1, Zhongxing Rd. to Sec. 2, Zhongxing Rd. Provincial Highway Route 9A Wulai St. Wenquan St; Address: Wulai District, New Taipei City, Tel: [886]-(2)-2661-6355.

Taoyuan County

Taoyuan County (west of Taipei) is narrow and sits on a plateau in the northwestern part of Taiwan, with Taipei and Yilan counties adjacent to it. Taoyuan County has cultural, natural and historic attractions and has been called the "flower kingdom" and "land of a thousand ponds." There are scenic sites along the Northern Cross-Island Highway. History comes alive at the Chiang Kai-Shek and Chiang Ching-Kuo Cultural Park.

Over the past few years, the Chiang Kai-Shek and Chiang Ching-Kuo Cultural Park has attracted millions of visitors. The park is a successful example of efforts by the Taoyuan County Government to create tourism value, promote innovative and high-quality visitor services with private sector partners, and develop locally unique attractions that present the "Taiwan Experience."

Taoyuan also has developed other distinctive attractions, such as those related to the county's Hakka culture, military communities and rustic areas. Trails, bikeways, and local industries have ben developed to attract more visitors to Taoyuan. Guanyin and Xinwu townships are famous for their lotus flowers. Every summer when the flowers are in bloom, these townships attract many tourists and host a lotus flower Zhongli Night Market is a popular attraction. Many of the stores have some of history behind them. Visitors can try various snacks and buy a variety of stuff. The market is on Xinming Rd. between Zhongyang W. Rd. and Minquan Rd. in Zhongli City.

Visitors Centers: Zhongli Railway Station, Tel: [886]-3-426-6216, No. 139, Zhonghe Rd, Zhongli City, Taoyuan County Taoyuan Railway Station, Tel: [886]-3-338-2001, No.1, Zhongzheng Rd, Taoyuan City, Taoyuan County THSR Taoyuan Station, Tel: [886]-3-453-2921, No.6, Sec. 1, Gaotie N. Rd, Zhongli City, Taoyuan County

Lo-Sheng Sanatorium

Lo-Sheng Sanatorium (Taoyuan County and New Taipei City) is renowned for being one of the last leper colonies in the world. Built in 1930 by the Japanese government to treat quarantined patients with Hansen disease (leprosy), which was incurable at that time, the sanatorium is the first and only government-run leprosarium in Taiwan. It was originally built to accommodate 100 people. After World War II, the Chinese Nationalist government continued the quarantine policy and increased the number of wards in the sanatorium from five to over 60.

The 30-hectare sanatorium, which remains a close-gated community, preserves the architectural style from the 1930s and 1950s. The original buildings were a fusion of modern European and traditional Japanese styles, while the staff dormitory is equipped with a standard Japanese garden. Other public spaces include a kitchen, a public bath house, a library and a mortuary. The residents later raised funds to build a chapel and a Buddhist temple in 1952. Lo-Sheng patients once had to take care of their own ward mates after their deaths and carry the bodies up the mountain to the cremation site.

In 1994, Lo-Sheng was designated as land to be used for a subway depot, a project opposed by cultural activists out of concern over potential damage to the heritage site and the residents' safety. Two years later, more than 340 of the remaining residents, mostly elderly senior citizens, established an alliance to advocate for preserving the place they call home. In 2007, the government decided to preserve 39 buildings on the site, tearing down six others and re-building one. Nine others listed in the overall preservation project are also scheduled for renovation.

In 2009, the government designated Lo-Sheng as one of Taiwan's 18 potential World Heritage Sites because it has witnessed the development of politics, medicine, public health and human rights in Taiwan over several decades. In 2013, Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien was named one of the two recipients of the National Cultural Award. Hou promptly donated his NT$1 million (US$33,517) prize money to finance the Lo-Sheng reconstruction efforts. Some advocates have suggested using Hou's donations to turn the sanatorium into a medical museum.

Taoyuan Tableland and Ponds

Taoyuan Tableland and Ponds renowned for its high number of manmade pands: 8,864 of them were counted during the 1970s, which helped the region earn the nickname of "the thousand-pond county.” The Yellow Water Lilies that bedeck the surface of the county's multitude of ponds are not only for decoration; Taoyuan farmers planted these aquatic plants to help stabilize the water currents and to prevent soil erosion.

One of Taiwan's earliest agricultural heartlands, the Taoyuan Plateau was a glittering mass of water paddies and fish ponds during the 1920s - an incredible feat, given the fact that the region had no natural access to streams or rivers. Agrarian productions were made possible only by introducing manmade waterholes to the tableland, whose rich and red clay soil was naturally suited to preserving water. The low-absorbent properties of the region's loam proved to be so successful that by 1928, more than 22,000 hectares of farmland were irrigated by such devices.

The waterhole-digging practice, which originated from the Taiwanese Plain aborigines and was later adopted by Han and Hakka immigrants, gave birth to a unique culture whose rituals and social practices became inseparable from their ponds-dotted landscape. Five main pool categories soon emerged - feng-sui ponds, which symbolized household wealth and provided water for domestic usage, leisure ponds for recreational fishing, agrarian ponds for irrigation and aquaculture purposes, community ponds where villagers would congregate and socialize, and commemorative ponds such as the Back Cihu, a 41,076-hectare water reservoir located behind the Cihu Mausoleum in dedication to the memory of the late President Chiang Kai-shek.

Modern-day forces such as urbanization and overpopulation, however, have quelled demand for individual water reservoirs. Left without maintenance and purpose, many irrigation ponds were filled in to make way for schools, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Moreover, the termination of the eco-friendly practice has had drastic impact on the tableland ecosystem as well; the bamboo forests and water lilies planted to shelter and stabilize the ponds have withered away with the dearth of human care, leaving behind dry holes whose water long evaporated under the shining sun.

Daxi: the Town that Glorifies Chiang Kai-shek

Daxi (at the starting point of the Northern Cross-island Highway) is closely linked to the history and memory of Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo, former presidents of the ROC. For travelers, there are historic buildings, walking trails, cultural activities, tribal culture, wood sculpture, and delicious food. Daxi has been a hub for travelers for over a century. The Michelin Guide has given Daxi a two-star recommendation and a two-page write up.

Radiating outwards from Heping Street, Daxi Old Street is a historic street lined with old Baroque-style buildings and amenities geared towards tourists. Daxi Bridge was built in the same Baroque style as Old Street area and brilliantly lit up every night. Houci Lake is a scenic spot. Cihu Presidential Burial Place is the final resting place of Chiang Kai-shek. He was buried here because of the area’s similarities to his ancestral home in Zhejiang Province.

There are over 100 bronze statues of Chiang Kai-shek at Cihu Sculpture Memorial Park, each one a unique piece of art. It is the only park on the island dedicated to the memory of one person. The ceremonial changing of the guards is performed, with rifle displays, each hour. This spectacle can only be seen at five locations in Taiwan, two of which are located in Daxi. Located on the terrace of the Dahan River, Zhongzheng Park is a scenic back garden near Daxi Old Street. The old trees and lush vegetation here create a welcome spot to relax during your visit to Daxi. National Heritage Site – Former Residence of Lee Teng-fang. The elegant compound home is built in a classic Hakka style and is known for its intricate carved woodwork. Shimen Reservoir is a popular destination. River fish cuisine, boat cruises, and cycling are among the many attractions here.

Getting There by Public Transport: 1.THSR: From Taoyuan Station, take the THSR Shuttle Bus 170 to the Zhongli Station (Taoyuan Bus) in Zhongli City. Then take the Tour Taiwan Shuttle (Cihu Route); or from Zhongli Rear Station take the Daxi-bound Taoyuan Bus No. 5098 to Xinjiewei; 2. Taiwan Railway: Take the train to Zhongli Railway Station. Then catch the Tour Taiwan Shuttle (Cihu Route) at the Zhongli Station (Taoyuan Bus); or from Zhongli Rear Station take the Daxi-bound Taoyuan Bus No. 5098 to Xinjiewei; 3. Bus: Take the bus to Zhongli Station (Taoyuan Bus) in Zhongli City. Then take the Tour Taiwan Shuttle (Cihu Route); or from Zhongli Rear Station take the Daxi-bound Taoyuan Bus No. 5098 to Xinjiewei. Alternatively, go to the Taoyuan Bus Terminal in Taoyuan City and take the Daxi-bound Taoyuan Bus No. 5096 to Xinjiewei. Tourist Office: Cihu Visitor Center No.1097, Sec. 1, Fuxing Rd, Daxi Township, Taoyuan County, Tel: [886]-3-388-4437

Xinwu Green Tunnel Bikeway

Xinwu Green Tunnel is a green corridor for cycling located in the shoreline recreational area next to Yong'an Fishing Port in Xinwu Township. Few things compare to cycling along this scenic route with the pleasing green of the trees and the cool blues of the coast accompanying you all along the way. The four-kilometer-long corridor begins from Xinwu Township and passes through Dayuan, Guanyin and Luzhu Districts.

The Green Tunnel is divided into three sections: the north, the central and the south sections, comprising of a thick green shade along the seashore road. Currently, the completed facilities include the car park at the entrance, the trail system, the plank platform, the sightseeing kiosk, public toilets, the sightseeing area, benches, the viewing signs, the bikeway, signs and signals.

Getting There by Public Transport: Take a train to Zhongli Railway Station, continue by Taoyuan Bus toward Yong'an Fish Port. By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Pingzhen System Interchange Prov. Hwy 66 Prov. Hwy 15 County Hwy 114; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Da River (Daxi) Interchange Prov. Hwy 66 Prov. Hwy 15 County Hwy 114; Address: Sec. 3, Zhongshan W. Rd, Yong'an Village, Xinwu Township, Taoyuan County, Tel: [886]-3-332-2101.

Hsinchu County

Hsinchu County (southwest of Taipei) is home to the largest Hakka community in Taiwan. Most of the early Hakka immigrants to this region landed at Hongmao Harbor and Nanliao Harbor, the majority coming from Haifeng and Lufeng in China. The Hsinchu plain slopes upward to the east, and merges into Eighteen Peaks Mountain and Niupu Mountains. Most of the eastern part of the county is covered with hills and small mountains.

The Hakka residents in Hsinchu have unique dialects, customs and religious practices that reflect differences of environment. The Hakka people have traditionally lived in areas with poor farming conditions and inconvenient transportation links, forcing them to continually migrate into new lands. They are known for their diligence, respect for the teachings of their ancestors, and commitment to education. At the same time, the insular quality of their communities has traditionally limited opportunities for exchange and integration with other cultures, with the result that many Hakka communities have preserved their traditional dialects, culture and customs.

In recent years, Hsinchu County has enjoyed a thriving economy with support from the Hsinchu Science Park and Hsinchu Industrial Park. The county government has also vigorously promoted growth through infrastructure building and the development of the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park, High Speed Rail (HSR) Hsinchu Station special district, third-phase development of the Hsinchu Science Park, Puyu Development Plan, HSR underpass roads, a sports stadium and biotech park. These projects are honing Hsinchu’s competitive edge in scientific fields and injecting new growth momentum into the region.

Visitors Center: Zhudong Railway Station, Tel: [886]-3-594-3926, No. 196, Donglin Rd, Jilin Village, Zhudong Township, Hsinchu County; Liu-Chia Railway Station, 0932-112-253 (Cell phone); Tel: [886]-3-668-1603, 2F, No.229, Sec. 2, Fuxing 3rd Rd, Zhubei City, Hsinchu Count.

Hsinchu City

Hsinchu City is now famous for its Science-based Industrial Park but it was first developed in 1723. It was first called Hsinchu in 1875, and was upgraded to a provincial city in 1982. Hsinchu is the high-tech center of Taiwan. The people here are smart, creative, entrepreneurial and full of enregy, working and playing hard. Hsinchu is also famous for its snacks, which include meatballs and rice-flour noodles.

Hsinchu has long been an industrial city, producing things like glass, cement, textiles and fertilizers. Hsinchu is also the site of Taiwan's largest oil field and, since 1980, has developed into a center for technology and research. The land surrounding Hsinchu is extremely fertile. Citrus fruits, tea, and rice are grown. The city has a population of about 450,000 people.

The Hsinchu administrative district include Xiangshan and covers an area of about 104 square kilometers. The Hsinchu Science-based industrial Park Hsinchu City is loacted in the northwestern part of Hsinchu County, The its highest point in the city is only 120 meters above sea level. Hsinchu is sometimes called the Windy City because three sides of the city are surrounded by mountains with only the west side facing the sea.

Hsinchu Science Park

Hsinchu Science Park (5 minutes away from the Hsinchu City center and 50 minutes from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport by car) is Taiwan's first and foremost science park. Established on December 1980, it is a big deal and has created a development base for Taiwan's top high-technology industries. The park attracted 370 high-tech companies by 2003, mostly focusing on semi-conductors, computers, telecommunication, and opto-electronics, and has attracted 400 more since 2013.

As the engine for Taiwan’s high-tech industries. Hsinchu Science Park (HSP) has helped Taiwan’s domestic economy grow for decades and been an important pushing force behind Taiwan's economic miracle. HSP prides itself on its excellent development, establishment, and overall management in the park. Not only has it become a successful model science park of manufacturers in the park have also won acclaim for their entrepreneurial spirit amd commitment to excellence, attracting foreign media attention and top academics.

In and around the park are a number of prestigious research and academic institutions, such as Industrial Technology Research Institute, National Tsinghua University, and National Chiao Tung University, which provide quality human resources for the science park while offering on-the-job learning opportunities for employees in the park.

HSP is more than a high-tech town; its landscape and environment are as beautiful as a European community's. The area adjacent to the man-made lake is particularly an ideal destination for walking dogs, jogging or enjoying a barbecues with friends and relatives. You have to obtain permission from the Science Park Administration first though before you hold your barbecue party.

The Science Park Life Hub sits on No. 1, Gongye E. 2nd Rd, HSP, Hsinchu City, right in front of the Science Park Administration. Located right at the core of the park, it is only a three-minute drive to the nearest freeway interchange. This six-floor building on 3,420 square meter of land offers dining, art, reception, exhibition, conference and business functions, and is the only combination building that incorporates expertise and leisure as one.

Getting There: The HSP is approximately 15 minutes away from the Hsinchu City center and 50 minutes from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport by car. Its road traffic mainly relies on freeways, and it is a 70 kilometer distance to Taipei. It takes 90 minutes to Keelung Harbor to the north and Taichung Harbor to the south by road, while the North-South Railway offers another transport alternative. The complete transport infrastructure greatly facilitates the transportation of goods and personnel. By Public Transport: THSR: Take the THSR to Hsinchu Station, transfer to the bus. By Bus: 1) From the city area of Hsinchu City, get on No. 1, No. 1-A, No. 30, or No. 31 Bus and get off at the Science Park Stop. 2) HSP Shuttle Bus: Park Stage 1, Stage 2, and Zhu Village Route (Red Line), and Park Stage 3 and Guangfu Route (Green Line); 3) Yalan Bus: Hsinchu -- Taipei (Second Northern Freeway, by way of Long Lake(Longtan); 4) King Bus: Hsinchu -- Taichung (No.1 Sun Yat-sen Freeway, exit at Zhongqing interchange.) 5) UBUS: Hsinchu -- Tainchung (No.1 Sun Yat-sen Freeway, exit at Zhonggang interchange.) and Hsinchu -- Taipei.. By Road: By Car: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Hsinchu Interchange Xin'an Rd; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Baoshan Interchange Daya Rd. Yuanqu 5th Rd. Yuanqu 1st Rd. Zhuhcun 7th Rd Xin'an Rd; Address: No. 2, Xin'an Rd, East District, Hsinchu City, Tel: [886]-3-577-3311.

Hsinchu Zoo

Hsinchu Zoo (in Hsinchu Park) is the oldest zoo in Taiwan. Established in 1936, it is also one of the most popular visitor sites in Hsinchu City, receiving about 300,000 visitors a year. There are currently plans underway to integrate the zoo and park areas to create a Hsinchu Zoo Park, expanding the zoo from its current 2.7 hectares to 5.4 hectares.

The zoo is currently home to over 300 animals of about 100 species, including hippos, ostriches, orangutans, Bengal tigers and Malay bears. There are over 70 animals of 23 protected species, including animals that were abandoned or confiscated. In line with international conservation trends and the protection of animal rights, the zoo has also been enhancing efforts in conservation, education, and research, as well as improving the recreational functions of the zoo.

Under the Hsinchu Zoo Park plan, the zoo will be more closely integrated with surrounding river, wetland and hillside environments in Hsinchu City. The new zoo will also add to its cultural attraction with the inclusion of the buildings of the Air Force No. 11 Village, old trees and various historic sites. A virtual education system will be installed, as well, to present the scientific and technological accomplishments of Hsinchu.

Getting There by Public Transport: TRA Hsinchu Station Hsinchu City Bus (No. 1, 2, and 31) to Park sto By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Hsinchu Interchange Sec. 2, Guangfu Rd. Gongyuan Rd; Address: No.279, Gongyuan Rd, East District, Hsinchu City, Tel: [886]-3-522-2194. Hsinchu City, Tel: [886]-3-521-6121.

Glass Museum of Hsinchu City

Glass Museum of Hsinchu City is in a building reconstructed from Hsinchu Civic Hall that was built as the Japanese royalty residence and a banquet hall in 1936. After Taiwan World War II, the building was utilized by Takeover Committee, American army consultant delegation, and as the Hsinchu military police station.

Established in 1999, the Hsinchu Municipal Glass Museum is the first glass museum in Taiwan. It is designed to promote Hsinchu's glass industry by integrating the resources of culture and tourism. Its main functions are to conduct research into Taiwan's glass-manufacturing technology, and collect and display glass artworks. In addition, glass workshops with live glass-making demonstrations are organized to help visitors learn to appreciate the artworks and how to make, paint, and reuse glass.

There are symposiums, led by experts, artists and scholars from Taiwan and abroad and for visitors who work in the glass industry. A glass festival is held annually and was first organized by the Hsinchu City Government in 1995 and has provided an opportunity for the exchanges of glass arts. Artists from different countries share their experiences and ideas, providing exception opportunities for the local glass art industry to promote its achievements.

Getting There by Public Transport: TRA Hsinchu Station, Hsinchu City Bus (No. 1, 2, and 31) to Park stop. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 ? Exit at the Hsinchu Interchange ? Sec. 2, Guangfu Rd. ? Gongyuan Rd. Address: Tel: [886]-3-562-6091 Address No.2, Sec. 1, Dongda Rd, North District, Hsinchu City

Sanyi: Taiwan's Wood Sculpture Capital

Sanyi (on the west coast of Taiwan in the southern part of Miaoli County, about 100 kilometers southwest of Taipei) is known as the center of wood carving in Taiwan. The town's wood-carving industry originated back in the 1920s, when craftsmen concentrated on making oddly-shaped pieces of natural wood. The golden age of wood carving in the area came in the 1970s, when most of the products were exported. Facing the recession in the 1980s caused by the global energy crisis, the wood-carving industry had the opportunity to think about how to elevate its products from commodities to artworks. The establishment of the Museum of Wood Sculpture in 1995 prompted numerous wood carvers from other places to gravitate to Sanyi and develop their own styles of artistic creation; Sanyi quickly became known as a specialized wood-carving area.

The Sanyi Wood-Carving Festival has been held in May yearly since 1990. Activities include wood-carving exhibitions, color wood-carving DIY, a wood-carving market, and a series of Hakka life and culture shows. The Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum is the only public museum of its kind in Taiwan. The museum collects and displays both local and international wood sculptures. It also won the top prize in the 2003 Taiwan Architecture Awards.

Getting There by Public Transport: 1.THSR: Take the THSR to Taichung Wuri Station. From Xinwuri Station (inside Wuri Station) take the Taiwan Railway to Sanyi Station. Then continue by taxi ride to Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum (~5 mins); 2. Taiwan Railway: Take the Juguang Express or Local Train to Sanyi Station. Then continue by taxi ride to Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum (~5 mins).; 3. Bus: From the front of Miaoli Railway Station take the Hsinchu Bus or Renyou Bus to Sanyi Station. Then continue by taxi ride to Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum (~5 mins).

Lion's Head Mountain Scenic Area

Lion's Head Mountain (20 kilometers south of Hsinchur City) is 496 meters high and is part of the foothills of Mt. Luchang. Its has abundant vegetation, old trees, and several temples. The oldest of these temples is Shryandong Yuanguang Temple built in 1894. It is a popular destination for worshippers who can also enjoy the mild winter and the cool summer weather of the region. This majestic mountain was given the name Mt. Shitou or Lion's Head Mountain because of the northern part's resemblance to a lion's head.

Ever since the late Ching Dynasty, the temples and caves of Lion's Head Mountain and Mt. Wuzhi have been so famous that they were listed among the 12 most enchanting scenes in Taiwan. This scenic area encompasses the townships of Beipu, Emei, and Zhudong in Hsinchu County and the townships of Sanwan and Nanzhuang in Miaoli County.

Located between the Provincial Highway No. 3 road system and the Xueba National Park system, this region covers an area of 24,221 hectares and is rich in natural (cold springs, forest and lakes) and ecological resources as well as notable cultural attractions, including temples and historical artifacts of the Hakka people and the indigenous tribes (the Atayal and Saisiat tribes). Some of the promotional events for tourism development have included lifestyle and historical tours; exploration of the traditional culture of the Hakka people; discovery of the mysteries of the Saisiat Tribes; Sacrifice to the Short Spirits; a river ecology tour; a tour of the natural habitats of insects; and a tour of mining and unique industries.

Getting There by Public Transport: By Bus: Take the Hsinchu Bus and the Miaoli Bus at Zhunan. By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Toufen Interchange County Road No.124 Provincial Highway 3 Emei County Road No.41 Lion's Head Mountain; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Zhulin Interchange County Road No.120 Zhudong Provincial Highway 3 Beipu Lion's Head Mountain; Address: No.43, Datong Rd, Nanzhuang Township, Miaoli County (Nanzhuang Visitor Center), Tel: [886]-37-824-570.

Old Mountain Line Railway Line and Its Bridges

Old Mountain Line Railway (near Taichung City in Miaoli County in Central Taiwan) is 15.9 kilometers long and links Miaoli's mountainous Sanyi township and Houli in Taichung. Once part of the main railway line in western Taiwan, it was completed in 1908 by the Japanese government when it ruled Taiwan. An earthquake in 1935 caused serious damages to the railway, leaving behind twisted rails, cracked tunnel walls and a collapsed station and bridge. Train operations were suspended for three years.

The railway used to be a major transportation artery for shipping coal, timber and fruits from Miaoli to other parts of Taiwan. The railway was shut down in 1998 with the opening of a newer route to the west. After a 12-year hiatus, the line resumed temporary operations for three months in 2010 as part of a special tourism program. But shut down after that after no one could be found to develop the line and stations.

The railway contained the highest train station in Taiwan. The steepest and most winding section on the Taiwan Railway's western line was a great challenge to construction workers. It also had the longest tunnel and steel bridge. Because of the steep slope, the railway has a fork to allow the train to go upward and then backward when losing momentum.

One of the popular attractions is the remains of the brick-made Yutengping Bridge, also known as the Longteng Bridge, which collapsed in the 1935 earthquake. The bridge's arches are gone. Only the red pylons remain. The bridge has been described as "a masterpiece of railway architecture.” The Daan Creek Bridge, a 637.39-meter-long steel beam bridge, is one of four bridges on the line. Another valuable heritage on the railway is the Shengxing Station, built completely with China fir wood in 1906. It survived the 1935 quake and remains on display for visitors to see. At an altitude of 402 meters, the station is the oldest wooden train station in Taiwan.

Shei-Pa National Park

Shei-Pa National Park (between Hsinchu City and Taichung) was established in 1992 and covers an area of 768.50 square kilometers. It faces Guyan Mountain and Leshan in the north, Dajia River in the east, Beikeng Mountain and Xiaoxueshan in the west and Yuluowei Mountain and Dajia River in the south. The mountainous scenery here is spectacular. The highest mountain the park, Xueshan, is 3,886 meters in height and is the second highest mountain in Taiwan. The Xueshan, Yushan, Nanhuda Mountain, Xiuguluan Mountain and Beidawu Mountain are the five highest mountains in Taiwan. Dabajian Mountain is 3,492 meters in height. Dabajian Mountain, Zhongyangjian Mountain and Dafenjian Mountain are called the three Peak Mountains in Taiwan.

Shei-Pa National Park is noted for its rough geography and natural scenery. Mountains in the park are origins of major rivers in northern and central Taiwan. Erosion by the rivers has formed special scenes in the park. The climate of the park embraces both sub-frigid and temperate climates and provides a variety of ecosystems for different species of plants and animals. Wildlife here includes salmon and black bears.

Getting There by Public Transport: TRA Miaoli Station transfer Hsinchu Bus (bound for Dahu) to Fayun Temple stop. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Miaoli Interchange Prov. Hwy 6 Prov. Hwy 72 Prov. Hwy 3 Township Road Miao-62; Address: At the intersection of Wufeng and Jianshi Townships of Hsinchu County, Tai-an Township of Miaoli County, and Heping District of Taichung City, Tel: [886]-37-996-100.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Taiwan (Republic of China) tourism and government websites, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020


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