Meinong's Scenic Bike Trails
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photos by Pao Chung-hui, Li Ming-hui
Meinong is a 15 kilometer by 9 kilometer Hakka village, located in northeastern Kaohsiung. With its mountains, agrarian communities, historical architecture, various temples and scenic landscape, autumn is a great time to come. Seven bike trails have been created, making it easy and convenient to explore the village. Cycle past the rice paddies, watch the year's second harvest and take in the scenic countryside.
The seven cycling trails total 40 kilometers and are marked in the colors of the rainbow. The Red path takes cyclists past many historical and architectural attractions, the Orange features folk culture, Yellow runs around the lake, Green features Meinong's rich literature history, Blue runs along Meinong's irrigation ducts, and Indigo allows visitors to get an up close look at Hakka culture, with Purple exhibiting various religious buildings. All trails are well marked and provide information about the scenic spots along the way. This makes it easy for cyclists to learn about Meinong's history, while still getting the chance to enjoying its beautiful scenery.
The architectural red trail is 4.7 kilometers long and takes approximately 30 minutes. Historical sites include Yongang Street's East Gate Tower. This was Meinong's first street that was built in 1755. It historically protected the Hakka people from the previously hostile Taiwanese Plains Aboriginals and Hoklo people. Continuing along, cyclists can see Meinong's only remaining blue dress shop. Jinsing Blue Dress Shop continues the skillful artisanship of hand-made Hakka traditional, elegant blue dresses and flower print handbags. Further along the path is Meinong's Old Bridge, Rice Noodle Street and two types of Earth God shrines. The first type is dedicated to Li She Jhen Guan and is always found on the top of a small mound of earth. The other is dedicated to De Sheng Guan, which can be distinguished by its triangular cover. Along Jhongshan Road vistors will find a kiln, which is a grade-three historical site and formally used for sacrificing written paper. Hakka people revere the written word and therefore did not throw paper with writing on it away.
The Orange trail is 5.4 kilometers and takes approximately 32 minutes to finish. Visitors can see more kilns for sacrificing written paper and the Fu An and Meinong folk villages. Fu An Village was previously known as "Nioupu", which means cattle farm in Mandarin. It was once the location of huge plains before the village was developed. Many residents used it for their cows to graze and slowly became a place where the cows were kept. At Meinong's Folk Village visitors can see traditional Hakka umbrellas, arts and crafts being made. There is a gift shop to bring some home some as souvenirs.
The Yellow trail winds around Jhongjheng Lake and is 5.4 kilometers long. With its mountains and pavilions, it is like a breath-taking Chinese landscape painting. The best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset. Here, cyclists can visit Jhingjheng Lake Visitor Center, Kaohsiung Hakka Cultural Museum, Tai-an and Mincyuan Roads. Meinong K.c.s. Umbrella is also in close proximity to the lake and is another place where visitors can buy delicate, oil-paper, painted umbrellas. Traditional Hakka art and printings can also be purchased there. The Hakka Cultural Museum presents Meinong's history, Hakka culture, music, historical architecture (such as Hakka traditional houses) and its tobacco production legacy.
The Green trail is 4.1 kilometers long and includes Chong Li-he Memorial Museum, Shuangsi Tropical Viviparous Forest and beautiful Yellow Butterfly Valley. Chong Li-he Memorial Museum is the village's first privately established museum. Chong Li-he, was the famous Taiwanese writer, where he produced his famous literature and lived throughout his later years. There are also walking trails that wind around the outside of the museum. Along the trails there are plaques mounted on stones which contain quote from poetry of different famous Taiwanese writers. With its river and butterflies, Shuangsi Tropical Viviparous Forest is a great place to enjoy nature walks and admire its variety of tropical tress. May is butterfly breading season, when visitors can see tens of thousands of butterflies in Yellow Butterfly Valley.
The Blue trail is 9 kilometers long and the longest out of the entire seven bike trails. It takes approximately 54 minutes. This takes cyclists over Meinong's Water Bridge, to Yuan Hsiang Yuan Cultural Village and ends up at Jhuzihmen Hydroelectric Power Plant. Cyclists can see Meinong's historical irrigation ducts and the opportunity to walk around the 100-year-old Jhuzihmen Hydroelectric Power Plant. The European Baroque style buildings are certainly unique to the region.
The Indigo trail is 6.4 kilometers long and takes approximately 40 minutes. This passes the Guanshan Temple, Nioujiaowan River, Meinong Kiln, Founding Father Earth God mound and the historical Yimin temple. The temple marks the historical conflicts that previously occurred between the Hoklo and Hakka people during the Cing Dynasty. Inside Meinong Kiln, ceramic murals are on display and visitors can watch artists work on customized murals which are ordered by various groups from all over Taiwan. They also offer visitors the opportunity to participate in ceramic DIY classes. The 200 year old mound which is a commemoration to the founding father of the village is also located in the back.
The Purple trail is 5.1 kilometers long and takes approximately 30 minutes. This takes cyclists past traditional architectural buildings including Jhan's compound and the 40 acre Biological Park at Longdu Elementary School. The elementary school was previously an agriculture school. There is also a three acre farm, where the elementary school teaches students hands on lessons about farming.
Cycling in Meinong is easy to navigate, so visitor won't get lost. They can take in the historical sites and experience the traditional agrarian culture of the Hakka people. Harvest season is a great time to come and witness the Hakka people working the fields and the beautiful golden rice paddies. Meinong is also great in winter as visitors can watch the famous White Jade Raddish harvest. Come and enjoy the regions unique culture and its sites.