A secret garden in Alishan
By Hsu Ting Lin, Special to The China PostOn route 169 to Alishan lies the indigenous village of DaBang (達邦部落). DaBang is the home of the Chou tribe (鄒族). Just 6 kilometers beyond, among the high mountains and lofty peaks, an enchanting cherry blossom garden is hidden secretly along the roadside.
May 15, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
At the entrance to the garden, the owner, Mr. Chuang, welcomes each and every visitor with a warm smile, describing the plants and blossoms with great hospitality. Mr. Chuang puts a lot of love into his garden. Every day he wakes up at 4 a.m. to take special care of this lovely place. During holidays he and his family serve barbequed pork, fried sweet potatoes, wild herbs, home-grown coffee and delicious jelly figs (愛玉) at the entrance cafe.
The garden covers an area of ten hectares. Jelly fig vines are the dominant plants, whose fruits are used to make a delicious and healthy Chinese dessert. The vines, bearing the mango-like fruits, wind up the tree trunks and the rocks here and there — the reason the garden is named “DaBang Jelly Fig Natural Plantation” (達邦村愛玉自然生態農園). However, at this time of the year, it is the splendid cherry blossoms that catch one’s eye.
The trail full of cherry blossoms winds gently up the hill, offering visitors a refreshing stroll to enjoy the beauty of the garden. A few pure white plum blossoms along the trail rival the charm of the cherry blossoms. To one’s surprise, a tiny lake is unveiled after passing the little white paradise of plum trees.
In the tranquil surroundings of the lake, the tiny Formosa Yuhinas (冠羽畫眉) sing — “to meet you,” “to meet you!”— flocks of Formosa Yuhinas sit amidst the cherry blossoms, jumping from branch to branch, enjoying the nectar with their heads upside-down. The larger-sized Taiwan Sibias (白耳畫眉), with their beautiful white eyebrows, fly above in pairs, sitting at the top of the trees to greet all the lucky visitors to the lake.
Even the lovely Vivid Niltava (黃腹琉璃) does not want to miss this lively banquet. He flies in swiftly and suddenly shows off his eye-catching golden-yellow bib. This paradise of cherry blossoms provides a perfect playground for these gorgeous native Taiwanese birds.
This place is a performance stage for nature all year around. During the current season, it exhibits the beauty of cherry blossoms. In the summer, water fills the dry stream and in June, the fireflies light up the garden at night, creating another glorious show of nature’s wonder.
This adventure is full of surprises and fun for both young and old. Mr. Chuang’s hospitality, his stories, his grandchildren’s laughter and the delicious picnic add a unique flavor to the secret garden lying on the roadside to Alishan.
Altitude of DaBang : 900 meters
Chinese name of the secret garden: 達邦村愛玉自然生態農園
No. 171, DaDeAn Road, DaBang Village, Alishan Township,
Open: Holidays only
Other days should be arranged by calling:
Mr. HsinYi Chuang 0937-308-572
or Mr. ChiaRueng Chuang 05-2511-122, 0919-640-633, 0910-374-609
Accommodation: 阿里山閣大飯店 (run by Alishan Township Office
Vice president: 05-2679-313, 0933-528-855
or camping in the garden
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