海角七號之旅 II – Maolin and QiShan Journey


On our 2nd day, we left Kaohsiung city and traveled south to meet a very good business friend of mine, Mr Chen. He has instructed us to meet him at a remote Folk Village somewhere in MeiNong Town (美濃民俗村). We were so touched by his kind and sincere gesture. Mr Chen rushed back from China just to meet us in Southern Taiwan. It was a tiring 5-hour journey for him – he flew 2-hour from Shenzhen to Taoyuan Airport, took a 2-hour speed train to Tainan and drove another 1 hour to meet us at remote Hakka Town – MeiNong Town. He insisted driving us to Kenting. Without him, our journey will be very different. He showed us the “personal sides” of Taiwan.

On our way to MeiNong, we stopped by Maolin (茂林) Country Park to check out the impressive Dona Suspension Bridge (多納吊橋) and the world’s 2nd largest butterfly sanctuary – Purple Butterfly Valley (紫蝶幽谷). We also drove through the area where the recent 8-8 typhoon destroyed. We saw workers repairing broken bridges and landslide sites. The destruction was massive and the slopes looked pretty unstable. I was quite nervous when our car drove through the narrow mountain road.

DONA SUSPENSION BRIDGE (多納吊橋)
Built during the 50-year Japanese Occupation, the Dona Suspension Bridge is 103m high and 232m long. It connects 2 valleys of the Dona Dragon Head Mountains. This is certainly not for those who have height-phobia. (Even Tracy was terrified to walk on it – Mind you, she did bungee off the mountains back in South Africa!) The bridge is not accessible via the main road. To go up there, we took a 10-minute hike up the rocky slopes. The view on the bridge was stunning.


PURPLE BUTTERFLY VALLEY (紫蝶幽谷)
Every winter, millions of rare migratory Purple Crow Butterflies migrated from the northern cold terrains to the warmer forests of these valleys. The best way to see these butterflies is to get a private appointment with the park rangers as they know where are the “good spots” to find the butterflies. The best time to see these butterflies is between day break to noon (8am-11am). Unfortunately, we arrived late and missed the butterflies. We only managed to see hundreds of them flying at the entrance of the forest along the main road.

MEINONG FOLK VILLAGE (美濃民俗村)
We finally arrived at MeiNong Folk Village (our meeting point with Mr Chen). MeiNong is a Hakka town (95% of the population here are Hakkas) It was once a thriving tobacco farming village and it is now transforming itself into Eco-Tourism destination. The locals were extremely friendly and chatty. We saw many betel nuts and banana plantations around here. This folk village is a popular tourist stop-over – there is a restaurant (serves delicious local dishes) and many souvenir shops (key local souvenir is the Hakka paper umbrella). We saw bus-loads of tourists from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore (yes, I can hear the familiar “lahs” and mixed English-Chinese dialogues).


Mr Chen finally arrived at 4pm. He drove us to the place where he grew up, QiShan (旗山區) – a small town of 40,000 people. We had a brief drive through the town’s main streets, visited the old railway station and took a photo outside his Alma Mater. At 5:30pm, we watched sunset on a hilltop where there was a grand Confucius temple. By nightfall, Mr Chen drove us to Kenting (1.5-hour ride). We stopped by PingTung where he bought us dinner at a locally famous stewed pig’s trotter restaurant. (It was so delicious that we tried to persuade Tracy to try the tasty pork meat that night!)



At 10pm, we finally arrived at our final destination – the famous “Cape No. 7″ (海角七號) sea-town, Kenting (墾丁). We parked ourselves at one of the major holiday resorts of Kenting – the Caesar Park Hotel. And we got ourselves a big family villa – with 2 double beds and a back garden with our own private hot jacuzzi! This was the reward of a long tiring day trip! Mr Chen bought Harshad the local brewed beer “Taiwan Beer”. All of us chilled outside in the jacuzzi garden. It was cold that night but the warm water of the jacuzzi was too tempting to resist. Harshad and I striped off all our clothing and took a long dip in the hot pool! Ah….so so relaxing! Lovely!


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