Miaoli’s Mysterious Misty Mountains….

A trip yesterday to the Nanzhuang district 南庄鄉 in the far NE corner of Miaoli County 苗栗縣, central Taiwan ~ kind of the middle of a very beautiful nowhere!  Our diocesan women’s group and seniors group organized a great trip for almost 60 lovely people from our churches in northern Taiwan ~ up into the misty mountains of Miaoli.  Here we all are, along with Bishop Lai, his wife Lily, her aunt, plus several other clergy and clergy spouses!

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That part of Miaoli is famous for 2 main groups of people who live there, the Hakka people and the indigenous aboriginal Saisiyat 賽夏tribe.  The Saisiyat are one of Taiwan’s smallest tribes, only about 6,000 in number, and only just over 1% of the total indigenous population of Taiwan.  One of their symbols is the 卍 (‘wan’ in Chinese) sign, and is explained on a noticeboard, ‘Wauan is the goddess of the Saisiyat people.  The 卍 looks likes the 2 strikes of lightning that represent Wauan, who descended from heaven to earth to teach the Saisiyat people farming and weaving techniques, and also fell in love with a Saisiyat warrior.’

It was an early start, 6:30am meeting at Advent Church, and as we picked up people along the way, so we all arrived in Nanzhuang about 11:00am. First stop, an hour’s walk along the Penglai River.  The river and the footpath were very badly damaged in Typhoon Soulik in July 2013, but the riverside has since been restored and is now a protected area – and the nature trail is wonderful.  A bit rough in places, but hey, the oldest lady on the trip, Mrs. Chen pushed her walker along it and she was amazing!  The river is full of interesting fish, many are endemic species only in Taiwan. The weather was overcast, ideal for walking ~ in fact everyone who’d been there before said how hot it could get if the sun came out….

And then for a special Hakka Lunch!

After lunch we drove up and up and up and round and round and round to arrive at the Saisiyat Cultural Museum at Xiangtian Lake, 向天湖, 738m above sea level, for a walkaround and a bit of shopping, tea oil, different rice and millet wines, plus all sorts of things to eat and improve health…

The original plan had then been to go to Nanzhuang Old Street but it was full of roadworks, so we went to visit the newly-opened ‘sightseeing factory’ of Arwin Biochem 雅聞 who make cosmetics especially from rose oils, which are grown locally.

And then to Chung-Li was a very delicious dinner, and home by 9:00pm!

And a great time was had by all ! YES!

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