Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 16 News List

A highway less traveled

The Southern Cross-Island Highway is ideal for excursions at all times of the year. Hit the road


According to Wu Rung-shun (吳榮順), a scholar from the Music Department of the National Institute of Arts, the unique singing style and the complicated form and semi-tonal harmonic structure of the songs have aroused a sensational response from the ethno-musicological community since 1943 when the recording of Pasi But But was first made public.

The Bunun tribe's natural singing talent has been passed on to descendents such as Biung (王宏恩) and Kao Sheng-mei (高勝美), who are popular singers in Taiwan.

Due to an absence of snow and severe weather, the area is often crowded in winterwith people who visit to climb nearby mountains, hike trails or ride cross-country bikes.

The "three-stars (mountains) of the Southern Crossing" (南橫三星)" are Mount Guanshanling (關山嶺山) at 3,174m, Mount Taguan (塔關山) at 3,220m and Mount Kuhanuosin (庫哈諾辛山) at 3,114m. All are favorite mountaineering spots.

Hikers who have planned well may make their trip to and from the mountains in a day if they start their journey from Yakou. A nearby lodge (土亞口山莊) at 2,568m provides reasonably comfortable rooms and board and is managed by local Bunun youths.

On the road: Provincial Highway No. 20

1. Yujing (玉井) is nicknamed the "home of the mango" and is famous for producing the tasty fruit. Chopped mango cubes mixed with condensed milk and shaved ice is a knock-out summertime dessert.

2. Yushan Baoguang Sacred Temple (玉山寶光聖堂) lies on a hillside at Nanhua Township (南化鄉) and is a 15-minute drive from Yujing. A majestic group of temples stands out by the highway. It is the southern headquarters of a religious group called Yit Kuan Tao (一貫道), whose best-known adherent is Chang Jung-fa (張榮發), chairman of the Evergreen Group.

3. Baolai (寶來). Excited about riding rapids? White water rafting is available in this tiny mountain village, a 21km drive from Jiasian, from May to October. It's generally a 13km, eight to 10-person raft ride, on the Launong Stream (荖濃溪) and takes about two hours to complete. The cost is around NT$700 to NT$800 per person, above the age of 12. After all this excitement and long-distance driving, you might be ready to take a dip and relax in one of the village's hot springs. This amazing village is home to many hot spring hotels. Fun Chen Sawuna Resort Hotel (芳晨溫泉渡假村), located at the street end of Boalai village, is an ideal place to spend a night.

4. Meishan Youth Activity Center (梅山青年活動中心) is another 30km eastward from Baolai and is a modern building constructed by the Chinese Youth Corps, just like Yakou Lodge. It is a quiet, exclusive lodge for those who choose to be close to nature. Both the Meishan Visitor Center and Bunun Culture Exhibition Center are nearby. The Meishan Police Squad office next to them by the roadside looks like an owl, an auspicious animal in the Bunun tribe's customs. It has won a lot of praise from visitors for showing the Bunun people's sense of humor.

5. Jhongjhihguan (中之關) is about 22km away from the Meishan Youth Activity Center and the entrance to the Kuanshan Ridge trail, the longest trail in Taiwan. The Ridge trail was built by Japanese soldiers during the Japanese Colonial Period and was utilized to oppress the revolting Bunun warriors. A 3.5km-long trail between here to Tianchih (天池) is open to the public.

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