Friday, June 6, 2014

The Valley at the Heart of Taiwan's Untamed East (En Voyage)

The eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung have more than a fifth of Taiwan’s land area, yet contain a mere 2.4 percent of the country’s population. Express trains from Taipei reach Hualien in less than three hours. For an even quicker escape, board a Taitung-bound plane at Taipei’s Songshan Airport. The flight time is just one hour.

It’s no surprise that Highway 11, the intensely scenic coast road from Taitung to Hualien, draws a lot of tourists. However, the inland route through the East Rift Valley is even more alluring. This well-watered region, more than 150km from north to south, is squeezed between highlands. The Central Mountain Range hinders access to Taiwan’s more developed western half, while the Coastal Mountain Range shelters the valley from Pacific typhoons.

Much of Taiwan’s best farmland can be found in the East Rift Valley, which is also known as the Huatung Valley. Since Japan’s 1895-1945 colonial occupation of Taiwan, the township of Chishang has been synonymous with rice of the highest quality. As demand for organically grown food increases, more and more Rift Valley farmers are reviving traditional methods such as raising ducks in their rice fields. Not only do these fowl eat snails and other pests, but their feet also stir the soil and their excrement is good fertiliser. Paddies which have been spared industrial pesticides teem with frogs, spiders and tiny moths.

The valley is an excellent place to sample aboriginal cooking, which is based on millet rather than rice

The full article can be seen in the online version of EVA Air's inflight magazine. Click here and scroll through the magazine. The photo shows an old wooden bungalow in Lintianshan, an East Rift Valley attraction I mention in the article, and which I've also added to my guidebook for the just-published second edition.


Sherry Pea said...

Hi Steven! We are loving a photo you took of Badouzi Harbor building and would love to talk about using it for a video. Can you please contact me? Thank you!!!

Steven Crook... said...

You can reach me at stevencolincrook [at] gmail [dot] com

Best wishes,