Day 3: 30 May 2007 南庄 – 三義
In the early morning I went for a short hike along the Xiao Dong He trail (小東河步道) behind the guest house. There were no great views, but it went through some nice forest. I had breakfast at the guest house and the owner recommended that I visit the Shibi Village (石壁) where there is an Atayal weaving centre.
I headed back up the valley. When I got to the village it was very quiet and there was nobody around. I peered in the window of the weaving centre but it didn't seem to be open. Still I was in an amazing location surrounded by steep mountains with a river rushing down below.
Then I headed south from Nanzhuang to Xian Shan (仙山). Along the way I passed through Baguali (八卦力), a small Saisiat village that looked like it was undergoing extensive redevelopment for tourism. In fact in the whole Nanzhuang area I was surprised by how much tourism related development there was. The mural above was on the wall of a building in Baguali. The pattern with the swastika is characteristic of the Saisiat tribe.
Next stop was the Lingdong Temple (靈洞宮) on the slopes of Xian Shan. This is a very large temple. It was supposedly established after drinking water from a spring was able to cure people of diseases.
I then rode along past the Mingde Reservoir (明德水庫), which was quite attractive. I had lunch in the small town of Mingde and then skirted around Miaoli City going south to Sanyi. Just as I got to Sanyi it started pouring rain and I was luckily able to take shelter in a 7-11. When the rain cleared I rode on to the Miaoli Wood Carving Museum (三義木雕博物館).
Sanyi has so many wood carving shops it is hard to imagine how they all remain in business. The museum is located in Guangsheng Village (廣聲新城). The village has a small street beside the museum that is lined with shops and then the main road, Shuimei Road (水美雕刻街), a little way from the museum has even more shops.
The museum contains a very diverse collection. I identified a few major themes. The first was wood carving by Taiwan's aborigines, but I think this was poorly represented. Religious art is the next theme. This includes both the representations of dieties and the ornate features that adorn many Taiwanese temples. The last was work by artists that embraces a wide range of styles from traditional to post-modern. A couple of other things of interest that I noticed were the Tibetan Buddhist statues and some Australian aboriginal art.
Sanyi's other major attraction is the Shengxing Railway Station (勝興車站). This used to be the highest station on the Taiwan Railways main line at 402 metres. In 1998 the line was rerouted and the station area redeveloped as a tourist attraction. The station building was originally built in 1906. It is a pine structure built without nails.
The station looks deserted, but it would be "people mountain, people sea" on the weekends. The village's narrow main street has restaurants serving Lei Cha and other Hakka specialties.
Another point of interest along the railway line is the Longteng Broken Bridge (龍騰斷橋). It collapsed during an earthquake in 1935. A new bridge was built not far away. Now that the railway line is not in use it serves as a hiking trail.