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Taoyuan - lotuses in summer, Dasi Old Street

2005-10-23

2005-10-23 / Taiwan News, Staff Writer / By David Schnell

Taoyuan County borders on the counties of Taipei, Hsinchu and Yilan. In recent years, the county has expanded bicycle trails and improved scenic areas to enhance the tourism environment. In addition, Dasi Old Street is of interest. This well-developed area of alleys and lanes has specialty foods and arts and crafts that cannot be found anywhere else in Taiwan.
Bu first, for an introduction to Taoyuan's Lotus Flower Festival, an event that this year lasted for four months.

The Taoyuan Lotus Flower Festival is packed with some of the best performances Taiwan has to offer. As its name suggests,

The Taoyuan Lotus Flower Festival offers an opportunity to wade in ponds./Courtesy of Taoyuan County Agriculture Bureau
The Taoyuan Lotus Flower Festival offers an
opportunityto wadein ponds./Courtesy of
Taoyuan County Agriculture Bure

the festival's theme is focused on the lotus flower.

To the Chinese the lotus flower is a symbol of purity rising untainted from the muck. It is grown throughout Taoyuan County.

The county began to promote lotus flowers aggressively a few years ago. The flower emerges from below the lily pads of wetlands and lakes in summer. The seeds and the seed pods appear in many dishes, but the petals, stems and even the leaves of lotus flowers may be used.

The festival itself though is about more than just food. There are numerous country-style activities. For more informatin on the festival and lotus growing locations in Taoyuan visit http://lotus.colorgo. com.tw.

Natural attractions

Taoyuan greets visitors into a natural wonderland of flowers, forests and mountain views. Fusing Village is a good place to enjoy these attractions.

A pine-forested gorge with paved walkways called Daguanshan Forest Reserve is situated just south of Fusing.

This area has a reputation for having the most oxygenated natural environment in northern Taiwan.

Jiaobanshan Park, Dongyanshan National Forest Recreation Area, Balinglan and Daguanshan are all located close to Fusing.

Fusing is also home to the indigenous Atayal people and there are indigenous shows, products and activities for tourists.

All year round, flowers bloom in the fields of Taoyuan, such as in Jiaobanshan Park just to the west of Fusing along County Route 7. Other places to walk among blossoms include Dongyanshan, Shihmen Reservoir and the Ciouling Area.

The river mouths of Taoyuan are good places to see waterfowl in their natural habitat. Dapingding and Syucugang are especially good places to view migratory birds from September to April. You can contact Taoyuan County Wild Bird Association at (03) 357-1252 for more information.

Also, Hongshulin is the most expansive wetland in Taoyuan and is an excellent place for birders. It is located at the Sinwusi River mouth. In April and May, a fascinating display of fireflies can be seen at Shihmen Reservoir, Dasi and around Fusing Village.

Recalling the past in Dasi

The Chinese name for the area in the photos to the lower left and right is Dasi Old Street, but perhaps a better translation would be "Dasi old town," because there are alleys and streets that twist and turn in the area. There is also an old shale-paved walkway, a temple and a park.

Completely restructured one-story building facades along Jhongshan Street bring Dasi Old Street to life. The effect is an ambiance of old world charm. Heping Street is over 400 meters long and it is there that travelers can find stores with Qing Dynasty style plaques and teahouses reminiscent of yesteryear. Dasi furniture, woodcraft, and spiritual statues can also be enjoyed along Heping Street.

The delicacies of Dasi Old Street include dried tofu or bean curd, the high quality mountain spring water is said to help bring this treat to the proper consistency and enhance its flavor.

One more excellent stop in Dasi Old Street is Puji Temple, located at No. 124 Puji Road at the end of Heping Street.

Every June 24 there is a special procession in traditional garb with the raucous sound of Chinese instruments to lighten spirits. Further down Puji Street is a paved stone walkway that's a great location for taking a few souvenir photographs.

New attractions in Dasi include the Chinese Furniture Museum introducing the town's flourishing timber industry and traditional furniture production.

For more information go to http://www4.cca.gov.tw/artsquery/06e-all.htm and click on Taoyuan.

History buffs may find it interesting to visit the tomb of Chiang Kai-shek at Cihu, "Lake of Kindness," and take in the lovely scenery. Chiang's corpse is enshrined here in a granite box. A respectful bow is the protocol gesture. While you pay respects, feel free to visit Taoyuan's Martyr's Shrine in honor of those killed in past battles.

In the way of natural scenery, there is Sanmin Bat Cave, Jhuwei Beach, or the forest trails of Daguanshan, staunch bamboo groves and windbreaks, and mossy, gnarled trees amongst misty air. It's a veritable paradise.

For more information, call the Tourism Bureau's 24-hour call center at 0800-011-765 (toll free).