A peep into Taiwan’s tribal culture

November 9, 2016 OPINION/NEWS



Jose Kalathil

When an invitation to visit Taiwan for a second time came from none other than the country’s Representative to India, Mr Chung-Kwang Tien, I could not say no.

After all, Taiwan is a destination for a repeat visit, as one would find he had left out many itineraries in his earlier visit. So, I grabbed the opportunity without blinking an eye.

Thus I landed at the world class Taouyan International airport after a six-hour flight from New Delhi on China Airlines and within an hour I checked in at Taipei’s newly-built 286-roomed unique 5 star Palais de Chine Hotel, with its Parisian theme, ornate interiors of plush fabrics, imported furniture and antique pieces. Also a lot could be said about the variety of dishes available at its various restaurants.

For a tourist, Taipei 101, standing at 508 meters high, the Memorial of Chiang Kaishek, who had fought against the Chinese Communist Party, and the National Palace Museum, which has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world, are the main attractions in the capital during the first visit.

But my itinerary for the next day was Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan. Located in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, it took one hour for the Taiwan High Speed Rail to reach Taichung, the nearest station, about 150 kms away. The area around Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. The 7.93 sq km area at an elevation of 748 meters, this lake is famous for its clear, sparkling blue water set against a picturesque mountain backdrop. A traditional spot for newly-wed couples for their honeymoon, the place is inhabited by aboriginals.

Thaos have two types of music — one for worship and another for non-worship. Worship music and dance is for religious and ritual purposes, while non-worship music and dance is performed for fun when the people are cultivating, fishing or hunting in the woods.

“Tourists descend on Sun Moon Lake over the weekends, and hotel room rates zoom up on Friday and Saturday nights. Visit during a weekday if you want to avoid crowds and get the best deals,” advised Mr Chih Shian Chen, Vice Director, Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration. “During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Sun Moon Lake is the site of a massive swim — more than one hundred swimmers plunge into the lake to swim 3 km across. Anyone can join the fun,” he added.

Some of the must visits here include Wenwu Temple, the biggest temple on the Northern bank of the lake, Ita Thao, the village of the Thao Aborigines (also called Dehua village), Lalu Island in the middle of the lake, and the Chinese style 46-metre tall Ci-en Pagoda, which was built by the Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother. It was completed in 1971 and sits on the hill southeast of the lake, somewhat close to Ita Thao. Take a boat tour around the lake to visit the above locations.

Taiwan is located in the western Pacific Ocean, 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland and is a convenient gateway to Asia for the Indian traveler.










Jose Kalathil

Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. With more than three decades of experience in different publications in India and Nepal, he is comfortable writing on any topic under the sun.


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