Despite its growing popularity, Tugou has yet to develop tourist facilities. There is no restaurant or cafe, and the nearest accommodation is in the adjacent Baihe Township (白河). With rice production fetching tens of thousands of New Taiwan Dollars a year, local farmers like Su have to work second jobs to support their families.
Lu points out that when they first came to Tugou, they wanted to put into practice all the ideas about community-based industry and sustainable development they learned from school. But the students gradually realized that the villagers have their own pace of doing things.
“Of course, it is something that we have to think about. But what is important is not to answer outsiders’ call to build an industry, but to work happily with the locals,” he added.
When asked how he envisions Tugou’s future, Su said his goal is to have young people coming back and be able to make a decent living.
“What has been done over the past 10 years is an attempt to change people’s hearts and mind. It cannot be rushed. It is only when minds are changed that we can work toward the goal we set out to achieve,” Su said.
Having received a nomination in the visual art category at this year’s Taishin Arts Award, the ongoing exhibition of the Togo Rural Village Art Museum features works by 17 artists that range from paintings, sculptures, photographs to video installations and film screenings. While some art works are located outdoors, most pieces are exhibited inside vacant houses, courtyards and storehouses which are open to the public during weekends and on national holidays from 10am to 4pm. Group tours can be reserved in advance by calling (06) 687-4505.
Individual visitors are welcome to explore the area by bicycles provided by the development association. The village’s grocery stores double as information centers where guide maps and other tourist information are available.
How to get there:
The fastest way is to take the High Speed Rail train to Chiayi station. From there, a taxi ride to Tugou takes 20 to 30 minutes and costs around NT$350. More information can be found at: togoartmuseum.myweb.hinet.net.