Central Mountains: Places 1 & 2 (中央山脈: 三之一)

This is part of a 4-part series on Taiwan's Central Mountains (click here to see introduction)

1. Xinyi Plum Winery and Bunun Cultural Center (信義鄉農會梅子酒莊/布農文化中心 see map)

Where: A complex of two-storey buildings along PR-21 at the 90km marker, just past the valley town of Xinyi / Sinyi (信義鄉).

What: The Xinyi Plum Winery ranks among Taiwan’s better local wineries, producing fermented and distilled wines from locally harvested plums. Run by the Xinyi Township Farmers’ Association, the winery offers walkthrough tours, an eatery and, of course, a gift shop. The Bunun Cultural Center next door is a workshop for local craftspeople to make and sell traditional Bunun [布農族] products (opened early 2008).

Suggested Time: The Winery and Cultural Center deserve a visit of an hour or so.

Visiting Hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm (5:30pm weekends and holidays)

Contact: TEL (049) 279-1949; e-mail: hsinifa@ms33.hinet.net

http://www.hsinifa.com.tw/ (No English ... sorry)

2. Dongpu (Tonpu) Hot Spring District (東埔溫泉區 see map)

Where: Turn on County Route 60 (CR-60) near the PR-21 102km marker. Drive across the bridge and a further 7.5km to the hillside town of Dongpu.

: Dongpu is a former frontier town set at the entrance to Taiwan’s first modern cross-island trail (the Batongguan [八通關], first built in the 1870s and reconstructed / rerouted in the 1920s), laid down to connect western Taiwan to the East Coast. The trail, today part of Yushan National Park, can be enjoyed either as forested day hike or a multi-day trek across Taiwan to Hualien. Hiking permits (obtainable at the Dongpu police station [東埔派出所]) must be secured prior to making such treks, however.

The town of Dongpu was developed by Taiwan’s Japanese rulers (1895-1945) as a hot spring retreat. Today, thermal spring baths can be enjoyed while taking in the area’s lush valley scenery. The hot spring district at the center of town is relatively dense with hotels and spas. Hot spring B&B establishments set just before the town offer more space and, typically, better views.

Suggested Time: Visitors can easily spend a good half day hiking and at least an hour or two in a relaxing hot spring spa. This may be a good midway point to stop and overnight before heading further up PR-21 into Yushan.

- JM

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