The Innumerable Charms of Taoyuan District／深入道地文化之美，都市之外的桃源仙境
The Innumerable Charms of Taoyuan District
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting ◎Photos by Zeng Guo-yi, Pao Chung-hui
Around two thirds of Kaohsiung City's Taoyuan District is high altitude, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level. Its topography has had a profound influence on its lifestyle and culture. Its weekend market, held on a terrace in front of Baoshan Elementary School, operates from 10 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and has grown into a platform where regional farmers sells locally-grown toxin-free produce.
The weekend market also showcases delectable cuisine with healthy ingredients, for example delicacies favored by the area's Bunun indigenous people which make use of ingredients like hericium erinaceus (sometimes called lion's mane mushroom) and black fungus. Other mouth-watering dishes include barbecued wild boar, bamboo soup and bamboo-tube rice, all of which are unique to aboriginal cuisine. At the height of summer, the weekend market offers a black fungus beverage and jelly fig seeds with lemon juice. In addition, an informal outdoor concert of aboriginal music is a lovely feature of the market. The buzz of the market, not to mention the laughter and hospitality of the locals, draw both newcomers and faithful repeat customers to the market.
Taoyuan District boasts several beautiful hiking trails in the Baoshan and Erjituan areas, where main roads provide access. The Erjituan Wulong Tea trail stretches between one and two kilometers with picturesque vistas all year round. Strolling leisurely among tea plantations has great appeal, and travelers may be interested to see the picking of tea leaves during the six harvests each year. Erjituan Calla Lilly Trail is two and a half kilometers in length, and nurtures Calla lilies thanks to a perfect natural environment and climate. White calla lily blooms flourish from December to April, giving the area a romantic ambiance. Erjituan Bunan Gathering Trail (also known as the Cherry Blossom Trail) charms visitors with cherry blossoms in wintertime. For hikers who seek a greater challenge, Erjituan Toujian Shan Coffee Trail climbs past coffee trees, many of which are endemic to Taiwan. Hikers may occasionally smell aroma of coffee when passing plantations. Baoshan Wild Tea Trail presents cherry, plum and peach blossoms between mid-December and March.
Many visitors go to Baoshan or Erjituan planning to camp alongside tea plantations, in lush green forest or in bamboo groves. Camping at altitudes of 1,300 to 1,500m above sea level rewards travelers with fresh air, comfortable temperatures and forest phytoncides. Additionally, they relish daytime panoramas which go as far as Mount Jade (Yushan), Siaoguan Mountain and Mount Beinanzhu. After dusk, the stars whisper "goodnight," and call for a return visit.
Taoyuan also has several distinctive cable bridges. Suaci Suspension Bridge, named after the local Vilangn Tribal Community, incorporates cultural elements from the Saaroa (also known as Hla' alua) tribe. The bridge mast is decorated with wild-boar features and the entrance of the bridge bears images of tribesmen and women pulling the bridge's cables into place. Suaci Suspension Bridge, the first bridge of this type in Taiwan able to carry motor vehicles, facilitates the transporting of local produce such as jelly fig seeds and plums. Kalavung Suspension Bridge is situated at Taoyuan Village, where masses of plum trees obscure the mountain. During plum blossom season roughly the end of December to the middle of January these trees explode with white blossoms. The sight is something to behold. Situating at Ua-asik Village, Ua-asik Suspension Bridge connects to the opposite bank of the Laonong River. Tasipal Suspension Bridge bears the totem of local Bunun Tribe, allowing visitors to appreciate indigenous culture. The toponym Tasipal is Bunun meaning "tribal community on the opposite bank." Tasipal Suspension Bridge connects Lafulan Village's Lakus Tribal Community and the other side of Tasipal Tribal Community. Masuhuaz Suspension Bridge is situated at the entrance to Masuhuaz Tribal Community, and those in the know say standing at the bridge is an ideal spot for appreciating wintertime's charming cherry, plum and peach blossoms.
The dominant tribe in Taoyuan District is the Bunun people. Other indigenous tribes include Hla' alua in Kalavung and Haising Villages. Another 400 or so members of the Hla' alua reside in Mangacun Village in Kaohsiung's Namasia District. The Hla' alua people consist of members from Paiciana, Vilanganu, Hlihlala and Talicia. The Bunun tribe celebrates its own distinctive festivals throughout the year. The Malahodaigian ("Deer Ear Shooting Festival"), held each May, is a major event for the Bunun. The Malahodaigian is said to embody social, educational, economic and political meaning. The celebration also prays for successful harvests and hunting, and prosperous family members. Tribal heroes are saluted and hunting skills are passed down from one generation to the next. Shooting a deer's ear symbolizes hunting in the coming year, and only male Bunun are allowed to attend the ceremony. Female Bunun are kept out of the site. For the Hla' alua tribe, each community celebrates its own Miatungusu Festival ("Ceremony of the Sacred Shell") during the first 15 days of the Lunar New Year.
Visitors can explore Taoyuan's culture in depth. Nature interprets the district's extraordinary scenery differently in each season. On the top of that, the hospitality of Taoyuan's residents makes travelers feel at home. It is no wonder Taoyuan has become a tourist magnet.
桃源區以布農族居多，布農族每年當中都有不同祭典，一年中最隆重盛大的射耳祭(Malahtangia)，於每年5月初的閒暇時舉行，由祭師決定祭典時間。它具有社會、教育、經濟、政治意義，祈求獵獲豐富、家族興旺及尊敬善獵英雄，並教導小朋友學習射箭。以射鹿耳象徵來年狩獵的豐碩，傳統上只限男子參加，女子則被禁止至祭祀場所。另外，拉阿魯哇族分布於桃源里與高中里；族人也有居住於那瑪夏區瑪雅里的，現人口約 400 餘人，拉阿魯哇族群係由排剪社(Paiciana)、美壟社（Vilanganu)、雁爾社(Hlihlala)、塔羅拾社(Talicia，已廢社)組成，每年農曆年元月1日至15日間，各部落會開始進行特有的貝神祭（Miatungusu）。