Taiwan : Sun Moon Lake & Atayal Resort

Posted on Posted in 2014, Taiwan, Travel

Anyone who visits Taiwan will definitely heard about one of it’s most famous attraction, the Sun Moon Lake. Sun Moon Lake is located at Yuchi, Nantou county. A lake surrounding the island called Lalu, the Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan.

 The town surrounding Sun Moon Lake is getting so crowded as visitors from all over Taiwan and around the region flock to this scenic lake.

 The Sun Moon Lake is located 748 meters above sea level, the only big lake in Taiwan.

 The foremost building travelers will visit is the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration Tourist center.

At first glance the architecture of this administration building looks more like a sci-fi complex.

 From this angle, one is strongly reminded of a sci-fi military complex. LOL.

Recently, the tourism bureau constructed cycling lanes along the lake. Visitors who wish to cycle there can rent bicycles.

The east side of the lake resembles the sun while the west resembles the moon hence the name Sun Moon Lake.

 You can take your sweet time cycling on the cycling lane which was recently voted as one of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Cycling Lane of the World by CNNGO.

 Among some of the popular attractions of the Sun Moon Lake are Itashao, Lalu Island, Xuanzang temple, Ci-en pagoda, Wenwu temple, to list a few.

 Jocelyn photographing the beautiful cherry blossom by the lake side.

Wooden cycling lane along the lake side.

The Sun Moon Lake is the home of one of Taiwan’s native aboriginal tribes called Thao.

 I was told the sunrise and sunset is really beautiful here. But unfortunately my itinerary does not allow it.

It’s such a nice and peaceful place to get away from the hectic city. For those who are into bird watching, the surrounding forest is rich with many species of birds.

 The surrounding neighborhood is also pleasant to explore. Too bad we had to leave this town to check into an aboriginal cultural resort known as Atayal Resort in the neighboring town called Ren-ai.

Atayal Resort is a cultural resort dedicated to the aboriginal tribe of Taiwan, the Atayal people.

Atayal means “genuine person” or “brave man”.

In Atayal culture, every girl must learn to be a weaver and cultivator.

Besides fishing and cultivating crops, their common past time is weaving.

 One of the cultural performers showing me the finished decorative weaving souvenir.

 Which one should I take?

Weaving their traditional Atayal decorating charm, the men and women are dressed in their traditional costume.

In the Atayal culture, it is a custom that the women learn to be good weaver and a great cultivator before they earn the right to be adorned by tattooing their face. A girl starts learning how to weave and cultivate when she is 10. Only when she has mastered those skills is she considered rightful to be adorned. Only those women with the tattoo are allowed to marry and cross the spirit bridge after death.

From the old tales told by their elders, the first Atayal people came from a stone called Pinspkan. Two men and a women came out from the stone Pinspkan that cracked open. One of the men decided to go back into the stone, leaving the remaining man and woman behind. Even though they lived together, they were not doing so as a couple but more like in close proximity. Secretly they loved each other but the man was too shy to confess. After some time, the woman leave the place they settled in. While she was away, she found some coal and used it to blacken part of her face as a disguise. She went back and the man, thinking she was a different person, fell in love with her and took her for his wife. They lived happily and bore children, hence, this custom is now passed down through the generations, which has now evolved to face tattoos.

The Atayal tribe is known for their great warriors. Similar to the native tribes of Borneo, the men earn their tattoos when they bring back the heads of their enemy. These heads or skulls are honored by offerings of food and drinks in return for bringing good harvest and fortune.

 The Atayal tribe demonstrating one of their traditional game. While the men plays, the women cheer for them.

Their houses are made from logs and stones.

 Cultural performers posing in their traditional Atayal costume.

 Atayal is famous for it’s sky bridge that hangs from the side of the mountain. To get there, you can either hike your way up or take the train. I took the easy way up of course.

 View from the side of the mountain as the train slowly pulls up.

The statue of Mona Rudao clearly visible standing high above the trees overlooking the valley. The legendary warrior featured in the famous Taiwanese film “Seedig Bale”. Mona Rudao is the son to the chief of the Seediq tribe in Wushe. Wushe is now known as Nantou county. Mona Rudao became famous after he led the revolt against the Japanese authorities. But sadly, in the end, he shot himself to prevent being captured by the Japanese. Read more about him here.

 The sky bridge of Atayal Resort. Standing 500 meters above sea level, as you walked to the end of the bridge you will come across the center part of the floor is made of reinforced glass.

Bird’s eye view of the garden of Atayal with the south eastern mountain range behind it.

We rushed down as the sun set behind the mountain. It gets dark and cold very quickly. As I walked down the mountain, there was only one thing motivating me to walk faster down the hill slope – dinner! Upon reaching the ground level where the restaurant is, we were greeted by a friendly chubby man. He happens to be the general manager of the Atayal Resort and chairman of Taiwan’s theme park association.

He was so kind to host us for a nice big dinner.

He specially had the chef prepare a generous celebration meal.

 Steamed prawns with egg.

 “Shark fin” pumpkin soup.

 Ginger steamed fish.

 Herbal wild chicken.

 Roast duck.

“Buddha Jumped Over the Wall”

 Herbal pork.

 Stir-fried cabbage.

 After dinner, we were invited to watch the Atayal cultural dancers perform.

 Some of the spectators were also invited to take part in the dance.

The next morning, I took an early morning walk after a nice dip in the bath tub in my hotel room. The shower and bath tub of each room is connected to the natural hot spring via piping so guests can enjoy the hot water from the natural hot spring. The first thing I noticed was this weird “fruit” hanging from the trees outside the hotel. This is actually the floss silk tree. The fruit pod is covered by a flossy silk like fibers.

 And the trunk of the tree is full of thorns.

 Came across this fat cat when I was taking a walk. I think this cat was observing me.

 Tree trunk carving by the Atayal people.

 These tree trunk carving reminds me of the Canadian totem pole.

 Eastern mountain range of Nantou county.

I wanted to capture shots of the sunrise so the resort staff was kind enough to drive me through the back route up to the sky bridge. But by the time we got there the sun was already up.

 View from the sky bridge.

Sun rising up from the eastern mountain range of Nantou county.

 That’s me taking photos of the mountain view.

 The main garden of Atayal.

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Pages from Travel Leisure Chinese edition (issue 038) where my images were featured.

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