National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

Following last month, this month we will cover three more national scenic areas in West Taiwan. These three scenic areas cover Central and Southwest Taiwan, and all boast beautiful mountain and coastal scenery.

1. Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area

Sun Moon Lake is the biggest lake in Taiwan. It consists of the irregular rhombus-shaped Sun Lake, and the crescent-shaped Moon Lake to the west. Sun Moon Lake is the traditional habitat of the Thao people.According to legend the Thao people came across Sun Moon Lake while they were hunting a white buck. On discovering the lake, the tribe decided to move there for its beauty.






The island on the lake, called Lalu by the Thao people, is where the Thao used to reside and is still considered to be the holy residence of the spirits of the tribe's ancestors.

Sun Moon Lake's beauty lies in its tranquil turquoise water and the surrounding mountains, which layer upon one another as they recede into the misty distance and are reflected in the still waters of the lake.



The scenery looks like a living Chinese painting, and is truly breathtaking. Frequent mists and passing rain showers lend an air of mystery and contribute to the constantly changing moods of the area.

In the surrounding mountains there are trails for hikers. Each of them offers visitors a different perspective of the lake's beauty. The sacred Lalu Island is off limits to visitors, but gardens built on rafts featuring a variety of local vegetation now surround it, so the tourist boats continue to call.

Like other scenic areas in Taiwan , Sun Moon Lake has a rich and diverse fauna and flora. Six rare indigenous birds including the Taiwan whistling thrush, the Taiwan sibia, the Taiwan blue magpie, Steere's liocichla, the white-throated hill partridge and the Taiwan yuhina as well as another 80-plus species are found here, and there are also dozens of butterfly, fish, and animal species in the area.

Temples both old and new are scattered along the highway around the lake's 24-kilometer perimeter. On the top of one mountain directly across the lake from Shueishe Village , where most of the hotels and restaurants are located, is a pagoda built by Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother. The President and his wife were frequent visitors to the lake. The villa where President Chiang stayed during his visits collapsed during the 921 ( Sep. 21, 1999 ) earthquake, and the government-owned lakeside hostel just below it was also heavily damaged.The property has since found a new owner, who has developed it into the most exclusive and expensive hotel in Taiwan .







Opened in early 2002, the super-deluxe Lalu Hotel has already made a name for itself, especially among honeymooning couples who go there to enjoy the fine views of the lake and the romantic atmosphere. For those with a tighter budget, a range of other accommodations is available around the lake.

 

Wunwu Temple , located on the lakeshore, is dedicated to two deities: Confucius and Guan Gong, the God of War. Two huge and fierce-looking stone lions guard the entrance to the temple.


A big event called “Ten Thousand People Swim Across Sun Moon Lake” is held every September. It attracts actually more than ten thousand swimmers from around the island and abroad every year, as it is also the only time of the year when swimming in the lake is permitted. In addition to the swimming contest, throughout the year there are also other activities such as music and dance performances by international groups, firework shows, Thao and Bunun tribal festivals, and an outdoor New Year's Eve party.



The area around the lake is full of interesting places and wonderful sights. In the geographic center of the island is the famous cultural town of Puli , which has among its attractions a hand-made-paper factory, temples, a lacquer-ware workshop, a winery, and restaurants serving flower cuisine. South of Puli is Shueili, which has a popular "snake kiln" pottery theme park and the quaint narrow-gauge Jiji rail line. Nearby, at the edge of the Yushan National Park , is the hot-spring village of Dongpu , offering not only the pleasures of spa bathing but also the culture of Bunun aborigines. The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village just 10 to 15 minutes away is a large theme park with exhibitions of Taiwan 's ten main aboriginal cultures and a variety of amusement-park rides.











Sun Moon Lake is not for those visitors who are in search of an exciting night life. This is a place for doing nothing except winding down from the stresses and strains of daily life. For anyone wanting to get away from the hectic bustle of the urban scene, this romantic lake and its environs beckon as a haven of tranquility and relaxation.

For more information about the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, visit: http://www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw


2. Alishan National Scenic Area

During the Japanese colonial occupation, Alishan became famous for its rich forests, especially the vast fields of Taiwan Yellow and False Red Cypress.



Alishan is also famous for its cherry blossoms, as well as its sunsets and even more beautiful sunrises, when the sun rises slowly above a sea of clouds. The Alishan Forest Railway is one of the only three remaining alpine railways in the world. The Japanese built the railway to convey lumber from the forests of the interior to the coastal towns. From Chiayi City about 30 meters above sea level, the railway ascends into the mountains to over 2,000 meters above sea level.


There are 49 tunnels, 77 bridges and numerous wonderful sights along the railroad. Because of the steep incline, the train has to zigzag upward, making the ride an unforgettable experience. Because there is only one train trip scheduled daily (two on weekends and holidays), it's best for visitors to check the timetable when making travel plans.

 

 


About half way up the Alishan Forest Railway stands Fencihu Station, where you can buy famous local snacks such as the renowned Fencihu Lunch Box and Train Cakes.

The railway terminal is situated in the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, which is best known for its spring cherry blossoms. Many people also like to come here in the summer for the cool weather.

 

The Alishan area is the ancestral homeland of the Tsou tribe, which is famous for its Millet Harvest Festival or Homeyaya Festival, as it is called in Tsou language. The time of the festival changes every year, but is usually held in August when the tribesmen start to reap the first millet harvest. At the Mayashivi Festival in mid-February every year, visitors have another chance to witness Tsou culture.

Fireflies gather in Alishan from March through to June every year. In recent years, this natural wonder has become one of the major attractions of the area. About 23 species of fireflies are found here, making it the perfect spot for firefly-watching, especially in the Rueili area. Seven firefly-watching routes and package tours are available for visitors. In addition to watching fireflies at night, these tours also include local attractions such as Tsou aboriginal culture, cuisine featuring fresh local produce and game, and trips to other natural scenic spots.

For more information about the Alishan National Scenic Area, visit: http://www.ali.org.tw

 

3. Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

In the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area there are quite a few interesting tourist spots. Among them, Cigu has become very popular because of the Black-faced Spoonbills which can be seen there.











There are many other things worth visiting here, including other migratory birds, natural landscapes featuring salt fields, lagoons and mangroves, and small fishing villages.

Cigu Lagoon is the biggest lagoon in Taiwan and is very rich in natural resources including over 200 kinds of fish and clams, over 30 kinds of crabs, migratory birds and many other species, including four endangered species.



In the past, Cigu was a center for salt production and massive salt fields can still be found here. Nowadays the remaining salt mountains have become a famous tourist spot. Cigu is very close to the lagoon, and best known for activities such as salt mountain climbing, bird watching and visiting traditional Taiwanese fishing villages. The seafood is great here, and the salty popsicle invented by the locals is especially popular with tourists.

When it comes to seafood, one cannot miss Chiayi's two most famous fishing ports, Dongshih and Budai. Fresh seafood is sold at reasonable prices here – you can just nip into one of the seafood restaurants and eat to your heart's content. Oysters are a well known local delicacy due to the oyster farms on Chiayi's seaside sandbars. Raft tours to Waisanding Sandbar are offered to visitors who wish to experience the life of Taiwanese oyster farmers. The sandbar creeps south every year due to strong tropical coastal winds from Taiwan 's northeast in the winter. On the sandbar there is a lighthouse, a raised bamboo pavilion and even a B&B.



In addition to fishing villages, salt fields, great seafood and varied coastal landscapes, the area features other attractions such as Tainan City 's many historical sites, Sihcao Wetland and its rich fauna and vegetation, famous temples like Daitianfu Temple at Nankunshen and Donglong Temple , which are the religious centers for many Taiwanese fisher folk. Both temples have a history of over 300 years.

Daitianfu's famous Wangye Festival in the fourth month of the lunar calendar lasts for about 10 days. Spirit mediums and devout believers from around the island gather here to attend this annual celebration. At Donglong Temple , the celebrated Wangye Boat Festival is held in the eleventh month of the lunar calendar. This is a ceremonial send-off of the Wangye boat which is used by the deity to patrol the territory. The wooden Wangye boat is first carried through the streets in procession and is then put to sea, where it is burned, symbolizing the start of the deity's journey. This belief in Wangye originated in China 's Fujian Province , but has also flourished in coastal Taiwan for the past 300 years, overtaking its origins and maintaining its authentic form and spirit today.

For more information about the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, visit: http://www.swcoast-nsa.gov.tw

 

 

Lacquerware

Lion’s Head Mountain and Beipu

Exploring the Valley of the Glowing Sky

Fruit of the Angels

Its Cake Culture

The Amazing Bamboo

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)

Meinong

Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild

HAKKA TUNG BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Taipei Int'l Flora Expo

HIDDEN HOT SPRINGS & LANDFORMS

JOURNEY into the PAST

YOUNG, GIFTED, AND DEAF

Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!

TAIPEI EYE

Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART

TOURING TAIWAN

Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu