With a strong cold front driving down temperatures in northern Taiwan, tourists are flocking to the Shihmen Reservoir in Taoyuan County — not for a square meal in what many call the home of fresh fish, but for a view of the vivid autumn colors of the maple trees in the area.
Northern Region Water Resources Office deputy-director Chien Chao-chun (簡昭群) said the recent cold front marked the start of the reservoir’s maple-watching season because maple leaves usually changed color as temperatures dropped.
“Maple trees occupy about four hectares of land in the reservoir’s scenic area. About 60 percent of them have turned red and the color is expected to become even brighter next month,” Chien said, adding that the leaves usually withered during the Lunar New Year holiday, which is from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4 next year.
According to the Shihmen Reservoir Visitor Center, every November it receives many calls from tourists asking about the maple trees and sees scores of shutterbugs bringing their camera equipment to capture the colorful scenery.
Most tourists visit the area to enjoy the maple trees’ autumn color, while others come to ascend the 551m high Shihmen Mountain or watch the reservoir release water, Shimen Reservoir Management Center director Chang Ting-hua (張庭華) said.
Chang said the best spots for maple leaf viewing in the area are the Nanyuan Parking Lot (南苑停車場), Tsu Lin Park (槭林公園), Hsichou Bridge (溪洲大橋) and Maple Boulevard (楓林大道) between the Chunghsien and the Kaohsien toll stations.
The county’s Tourism Promotion Bureau plans to hold a nine-day festival by the reservoir beginning on Saturday, during which tourists can cycle along Maple Boulevard to enjoy the colors of the maple trees and taste the county’s famous fish dishes.
Meanwhile, the Central Weather Bureau said the weather around the nation turned slightly warmer yesterday as the cold snap weakened, but temperatures in the early morning and night could still be low.
Daily high temperatures over the weekend were forecast to climb 3oC to 4oC from Friday, the bureau said.
Temperatures in the early morning and nighttime during that period could still drop below 10oC in central Taiwan and hover between 10oC and 13oC in the northern, southern and northeastern parts of the country, it added.
Daytime and nighttime temperatures could also vary by up to 10oC in the western part of the nation over the coming week, the bureau said, cautioning the public to keep warm.
The mercury dipped to 7.9oC in Chiayi County early yesterday, the lowest temperature recorded in Taiwan’s low-lying areas so far this autumn, according to bureau figures.
Additional reporting by CNA