Nantou, Taiwan's only completely landlocked county, lies at the island's geographical center and features some of its wildest countryside and loftiest peaks (it shares Jade Mountain, the tallest peak in northeast Asia, with neighboring Chiayi County).
Tucked away in a corner of Nantou County far from Sun Moon Lake, Sitou and the other major tourist attractions of the region, Zhongliao (中寮) village receives few outsiders, excepting those passing through on the way to the nearby resort town of Jiji. Secreted in the steep valleys to the east of town, however, are a number of interesting natural curiosities that make this an excellent half-day stop on any tour of Nantou.
Westerners are often surprised by the evocative, even flowery names given to many places in Taiwan. The island's main international airport is in a city called "Peach Orchard" (Taoyuan, 桃園), and if translated literally, mainland Taiwan's two smallest counties are "Splendid Transformation" (Changhua, 彰化) and "Misty Forest" (Yunlin, 雲林).
Take a trip to Jiji (集集) in Taiwan's central county of Nantou and three things quickly become apparent: Jiji is an extremely popular spot, especially with young couples and young families; its surrounding scenery is breathtaking; and it probably has the highest density of tandem bicycles in Taiwan, if not the world.
Taiwan has no shortage of unusual attractions for those willing to search them out, and the Xian Feng Ling Sun Moon Cave (仙峰嶺日月洞), cut into the face of a hillside in the southwest corner of Nantou County in central Taiwan, certainly fits into this category – yet this unique oddity is also an impressive testament to the imagination and amazing determination of one man.
Given the rate at which Taiwan is changing these days, it's hardly surprising that a new arrival stepping off the plane at Chiang Kai-shek, er, Taoyuan Airport tomorrow could travel around the whole island and still have no idea of the horrific damage inflicted by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the island just a few years ago.
Sometimes I forget that I live in Taipei. If I squint my eyes a little as I'm walking down the street, blur out the mountains and Taipei 101 in the background, it's easy to think that I'm back in the States
Central Taiwan's Nantou (南投縣) County has a wealth of glittering travel treasures embedded in its emerald mountains and lush jade-hued scenery. A shiny prospect for an educational and fun-filled day out is the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village (九族文化村)in Yuchih Township (魚池鄉), near Sun Moon Lake.
Every time, on my way to and from Lugu (鹿谷), a particular brown board caught my attention for its interesting name -- The Phoenix Valley Bird Park (鳳凰谷鳥園). To my romantic mind it conjured up an image of a beautiful valley, somewhere up in the clouds, where magical birds with rainbow hues on their wings roam around freely chasing the butterflies, singing beautiful melodies all the time.
Tongpu is a tiny aboriginal village nested in the Central Mountain Range in Nantou (南投) County, with about 90 percent of its habitants belonging to the Bu Nong (布農) tribe. Although the place is about 1,200 meters above sea level, most of the surrounding mountains are as high as 2,500 to 3,000 meters.