LOHAS Travel in Maolin District／茂林，走入山林另一種悠活
LOHAS Travel in Maolin District
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by George Han
Members of the Drekay (Rukai) indigenous tribe have lived in what is now Kaohsiung's Maolin District for generations. The Drekay have a vibrant culture which flourishes in the forms of glamorous attire, sculpture and other arts, and distinctive tribal cuisine. Traditionally, the tribe was structured as a patriarchal hierarchy with chieftains, nobles, warriors and commoners. Land ownership was dominated by the chieftains. Food from hunting and harvesting was always submitted to the chieftains, who then made a fair and equal distribution of produce to each family.
Maolin District is renowned for its mountain scenery, and the Purple Butterfly Valley is a butterfly migration zone of international significance. In the peak months of November to March, visitors may see crowds of Euploeini butterflies dancing amid the trees and walkways. Nearby, the Lovers' Gorge Waterfalls are a major attraction. Maolin National Scenic Area Administration has established a walking trail connecting the first level of the waterfall to the second level, but there are five levels in total. It takes 10 minutes to walk to the second level, and there visitors can appreciate views of the cascade. When one is near the waterfall, breezes filled with tiny drops of water blow in one's face and hair. Listening to the sound of the river and observing the rich foliage can purify one's mind.
Duona Suspension Bridge on Kaohsiung Rural Route No. 132 is 223m long and 103m high, making it one of the highest bridges of its type in East Asia. From it, visitors can enjoy panoramic views. However, standing on it does take some courage. Visitors can also look down on the road bridge, with its distinctive eagle sculpture, and perhaps walk all the way to the small community of Duona. Another popular sightseeing spot in this area is the circular hill named Longtoushan (also known as Dragon's Head Mountain). This place used to be called Eagle Valley; the mountain is shaped like a dragon lying on the ground, and it was once usual to see a dozen or more crested serpent eagles gliding in the sky. Although eagles do not visit the area as often as before, outsiders still see them occasionally.
When reaching the spine of Longtoushan, one can hike to a pavilion. Legend has it that this is where wives waited for their husbands to return from hunting expeditions. Because of the pavilion's location, the women could see far into the distance, and would thus get plenty of warning of the warriors' return. They would then rush home and prepare meals for their husbands. According to older members of the tribe, the pavilion was also a place where the tribe would dance and pray to ancestral spirits, asking them to protect young men about to embark on a long journey away from home, either to study or do compulsory military service. The ritual was a time to bid farewell to those young men.
Duona is located in the most remote part of Maolin, and it boasts the best preserved indigenous tribal culture within the district. However, the number of stone slab houses has declined due to modernization. Building a stone slab house takes 50 members of the tribe about half a year. Therefore, each stone slab house is a precious cultural asset, as the process of building one represents a collaborative effort. These dwellings can survive typhoons and earthquakes. Furthermore, the material means the homes are cool in summer yet warm in winter.
The inhabitants of Duona use stone slabs not only for constructing houses, but also for barbecuing. Many visitors are keen to taste wild boar meat cooked on stone slabs. Wild boar is incredibly lean, and it takes skill to present this meat with a pleasant texture. Another highly recommended local delicacy is tribal sausage filled with taro and boar meat.
As you return to the big city, driving a car along winding mountain roads, you are sure to agree that nature seems to have a magical power to wash away stress.
多納部落盛產石板，也就以美味的石板烤肉聞名遐邇，一定很多人好奇，嘴裡吃到的真是山豬肉嗎？我很肯定、斬釘截鐵的說是！為什麼呢？因為是在山上賣的豬嘛！好啦，開個玩笑。其實山豬是沒有辦法用烤的唷，因為山豬的肌肉太多 ，咀嚼起來非常硬，烹調方式一定要先燉過才能軟化肉質，吃起來才會好吃。所以來到多納，不要執著一定要吃正統的烤山豬肉。後面一圈一圈在石板上面烤的食物，相信大家沒看過吧，因為這是部落裡自己製作的部落香腸，裡面的餡料是芋頭粉跟豬肉。吃起來的口感有點像是吃鮭魚卵 ，咬一口裡面的芋頭粉就爆開，只差沒有在舌尖上彈跳。