Tue, Aug 17, 2004 - Page 4 News List

New historic Hualien tour a joy to take

FASCINATING TRIP A new tour promoted by the Council for Cultural Affairs is one of six that gives visitors an in-depth look at the nation's rich history

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ching-shiu Temple in Chian township. Built in 1917 by Japanese immigrants, it is the only Japanese temple in Taiwan that is completely preserved.

PHOTO: JEWEL HUANG, TAIPEI TIMES

With an exemplary new tour route of its abundant historical sites, Hualien County is ready to unfold its charm and spectacular scenery to visitors.

The tour is one of six routes that are being promoted by the Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA), to encourage local and foreign tourists to learn more about the nation's culture through its architectural heritage. The other tours will take visitors to sites in Jinmen County, Penghu County, Tainan, northern Taiwan and Taichung.

The Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) is marking about 500 historical sites around the country with a round logo and organizing this architecture as tourist spots in the "Tour of Taiwan's Classical Historical Buildings." The tour is a key project that the CCA started promoting this month, aiming to implement the Cultural Citizenship Campaign and the Citizens' Esthetics Movement, two policies initiated by Chen Chi-nan (陳其南), who became CCA Chairman in May.

"There are many historical buildings which may not be old enough to be preserved as national historic spots, but they tell us so many stories about this land," Chen said at a news conference last week announcing the debut of the tour. "They are like chapters of the history of Taiwanese culture," Chen said.

Chen said the new tours tap into the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law's (文化資產保存法) spirit, which is to raise public awareness and foster a sense of cultural responsibility. In order to widely promote the program, the CCA is cooperating with a travel agency, Taiwan Top Tour, to plan a series of in-depth bus tours that will enable people to examine and appreciate the old houses and hear the rich stories they hide. Tourists can also visit the sites on their own.

One of the six routes on the tour will visit Hualien's old buildings, and reveal the county's complicated cultural and historical legacy left by its diverse residents over the past 300 years -- who include Aborigines, Japanese, Hakka, Hoklo and Mainlanders.

"In addition to its famous Taroko National Park, Hualien is a wonderland of diverse cultures and ethnic groups," said Ruan Chang-rui (阮昌銳), an anthropologist at National Taiwan Museum, who is also the professional guide of the CCA's tour of Hualien. "Hualien has prehistoric, aboriginal, Japanese and Han cultures. It is an epitome of Taiwanese society."

The CCA has launched a website for people who are interested in the tour, at http://hbtravel.cca.gov.tw. The council especially recommends the following historical sites to tourists who want to get acquainted -- or re-acquainted -- with Hualien.

Pine Garden

Built in 1943, Hualien City's Pine Garden used to be the military base for the Japanese Navy stationed there during World War II. Soon it became a recreational resort for high-ranking Japanese officers. It was said that the Pine Garden was the place where kamikaze pilots would drink the wine bestowed by the Japanese emperor on the eve of their suicide missions, according to the manager of Pine Garden, Lin Cheng-tsung (林正宗).

With nearly 200 pines, the tranquil garden faces the estuary of the Meilun River to the Pacific Ocean. After being restored by the Hualien County government, the garden was officially recognized as one of Taiwan's "top 100 historic charms" in 2001. It features afternoon tea for tourists.

Ching-shiu Temple

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