Monday, May 2, 2016

Taitung - Mt. Dulan - sarcophagus (都蘭遺址石棺區) - Chilin Culture - Beinan Site (卑南遺址) - Peinan Stone Pillar (卑南文化月形石柱) - water running upward (水往上流) - Amis Folk Center (阿美民俗中心) - Donghe Township (東河鄉) - Tunglo Bridge [Taiwan Day 972 to 975: Legends Part 3 "“Divine Mountain”" - May 1, 2016]



Judgment Day had once been cast in Taitung. A tsunami was sent as a punishment that destroyed the community of an ancient civilization thousands of years ago. Survivors of the Chilin Culture moved upwards to Mt. Dulan to rebuild their homes on what is considered to be a holy mountain for the modern day Amis tribe. This mountain is not only an important archeological site. There is also an intriguing canal nearby where the water run upwards. The third day of my Taitung Special focused about the story of this mountain and its surroundings. The sites were very interesting and perfect for the “Legends” concept of my travel adventure. 



A stone wall which resembles either a head or a torso.

sarcophagus



stone wall
another stone wall




Megalithic structures can be found deep inside its forest. A sarcophagus or a stone coffin served as a reminder that people from the Neolithic Periods regarded Mt. Dulan as an important place on their lives. Aside from the sarcophagus there were also three stone walls located 300 meters from the stone coffin. Scholars argued that they were used for special ceremonies as pieces of stone tools and pots were gathered around these stone walls. The stone walls and the sarcophagus were simply described as the Dulan Sites and you can easily find them by walking along Yuanshan Industry Road. Just ignore the aggressive dogs that will bark at you. 


preserved archaelogical site in Bienan Culture Park













The giant slab of slate located a few meters from the Beinan prehistoric site.
Based on carbon dating Mt. Dulan was believed to be populated between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago and the established civilization here was younger than the Changbin Culture that had lived in the caves of Baxiandong 30,000 to 50,000 years earlier than our present time. The relics of the Chilin Culture were found to be within the same timeframe to the archaeological site discovered at the back of Taitung Station. It was called the Beinan Culture and was first dug by the Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryuzo. There were a lot of slate coffins that were found here in the present Bienan Culture Park. The coffins were laid down to the ground and pointing towards Mt. Dulan which added more to its mystery. I investigated this archeological site before heading to Dulan town and I found out that the Beinan Culture shared a common characteristic with the Chilin Culture in Dulan Mountain. A few meters from the Beinan prehistoric site was a giant slab of slate which functions for special ceremonies which was something similar to the stone walls discovered in Mt. Dulan.



at the Amis Folk Center














“Pisalisinan a Loma”






The Beinan Culture and Chilin Culture already disappeared a long time ago but their descendants continued their life in Taitung. Modern day tribes have scattered along the east coast of Taiwan with the Amis folk as the biggest group among them. They had always believed that Mt. Dulan was the home of their god and I've meet some of these aboriginal people in the Amis Folk Center in Chenggong Township. Although the cultural attraction was no longer part of the holy mountain, their tribal houses were replicated here and given importance by the East Coast National Scenic Area administration. It was really interesting to see their homes and they were like giant nipa huts. The doors were a bit small and the edge of the roof was too low that I had to lower my head when entering each house to prevent any injury. A normal house has the soil as the ground floor while the elegant home of a priest called the “Pisalisinan a Loma” has a bamboo floor. I also had fun playing their musical instruments and if you come at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm you can hear them perform a melodious tribal music. 





I bought my archery ticket from this store inside the Amis Folk Center.



The Amis woman who taught me how to shoot an arrow.
Arrows were flying high in their archery range. I bought a ticket worth NTD 60 to participate in the fun activity and an Amis woman guided me on how to aim my target. She told me to point my arrow upwards rather than aiming it to my target directly. I stretched the string of my bow and then I released it creating a projectile motion that almost made a bull's eye. My visit to the Amis Folk Center made me realized how Taiwan gave so much respect to its aboriginal people. Formosa is their ancestral homeland and they were already here even before the Han Chinese populated the island.


“water running upwards” scenic area






The whole area was slanted and the movement of water on the hill was just an optical illusion.

If you want to see Mt. Dulan you can just board a Taiwan Tour Bus and alight at Dulan Sugar Factory to get into the town proper. The sugar factory is now an art gallery and one of the must-see destinations in Taitung aside from the 1,190 meter high holy mountain. There is a hiking trail in Mt. Dulan but for those looking for odd things there is the “water running upwards” scenic area where a boring canal was turned into a tourist attraction. I looked closely at the flow of the water on this canal and I was surprised that it was really running upwards. The recommended time for seeing this tourist attraction was only 2 minutes but I spent time investigating the cause of the phenomenon. I picked one fallen leaf and dropped it on the canal. I followed it as it floats on the drainage and surprisingly I didn’t feel that I was walking upwards. Standing on the car park, I noticed that the land was sloping downwards while the canal was inclined in the opposite direction. Overall, the whole area was slanted and the movement of water on the hill was just an optical illusion.


Inside the premises of a restaurant was this cliff with a nice view of the Pacific Ocean. I just found this place while walking along the highway towards the direction of the Dulan Sites from the "water running upwards" scenic area.



Tunglo Bridge in the town of Donghe

The modern red bridge was behind me.

There was this beautiful river below Tunglo Bridge.





There were also people doing kayaking.


But I also had some time to enjoy the old bridge...
....especially if trees nearby have fruits as big as these


Mt. Dulan is connected to a series of mountains where it ends in Donghe Township. A mighty river cuts the Coastal Mountain Range where it continues again to Chenggong Township. I had been travelling back and forth in the east coast of Taitung for three days and I had always noticed people alighting at the town of Donghe. They were actually going to the famous Tunglo Bridge to enjoy the view of a beautiful gorge. The old bridge was built during the Japanese colonial era of Taiwan and had been preserved as another cultural treasure of Taitung. Cars no longer passed here since a modern red bridge was already built along Highway 11. I took photos of myself with the Tunglo Bridge as the background and the danger of being hit by a passing car excited me as I stood on the shaky iron bridge with my tripod standing on the highway.




The legends that I collected around Mt. Dulan were already enough that I decided to go back to Taitung City. I boarded the last bus of the Taiwan Tour Bus and as it traveled along Highway 11 I made a final look at the Mt. Dulan and said a little prayer. I thanked the gods who lived there and protected me throughout my trip. Tranquil and mysterious. Mt. Dulan was really a divine mountain.
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