Monday, September 17, 2012

Songboling- Unpopular Place with Fulfilled of Agricultural Spirits

     Songboling does not sounds like a famous or familiar place, right?   Most foreign tourists don't know this place, even people who live in Taiwan have never heard about it either. Only people who are tea lovers or Taoism know this place. It is located on the south end of Bagua Mountain Range Plateau with an elevation of 430 meter.
      It was an early settlement for Han immigrants from Mainland China during the Qing Dynasty around 1657. In the early time, these settlers endured a tough life style and dealt with diseases
and illness. They found their consolidation from religion aspects. 
They built the temple which hosted the same deity as their hometown and wished blessings from their deity. Over time it became one of the most important Taoist temples in Taiwan. Starting from the Lunar New Year to Lunar March, it is packed with its pagans and religious ceremonies. 
The Shotien Temple has been rebuilt due to an arson fire after
the 921 earthquake. It mainly hosts Xuan Tien Shandi.
Photo was taken by Jeff Ou who is the local resident. 

The view was taken from the temple's courtyard after
a typhoon past by Taiwan. On a clear day, visitors can
see the western plains and the Chianan plains.  
Another View looking at the Zhoushui River which is
the longest and most important river in Taiwan. It
provides great irrigation systems which cultivates
the abondont agricultural productions.   
Visitors also can see the Taiwan Strait. There was
a fishing boat on the sea in this picture.
Picture: the courtesy of Jeff Ou.   
     Visitors can take the hiking trail below the courtyard down to the town of Ershui which is a historical town and take the small train from Ershui to the town of Jiji. It is an interesting ride and will be pack with people during the weekends. It is about a one hour  walk from Ershuain train station to the temple uphill.  

Songbolin belonges to the Tri Mountain National
Scenic Area. This is the tourist center in the
Photo Source:
Bicycle Trail Among The Farm Fields:  
Songbolin's geological and weather condition has benefited
it to become the biggest tea production area in Taiwan. In the
past ten years, riding bicycle became a popular leisure
activity. The town administration has converted the farm
roads to bicycle trails combining thr trails with exploring and 

resting at the abandoned military facilities in the area. 
There is almost no traffic on the
trail. Once in a while, a truck or a motor 

scooter might pass by. It is an enjoyable 
ride among the farm fields with nice fresh air.  
Farming life in Taiwan is tough. The picture 
depicted the man in the center having a sun burn in the 
ginger fields. Photo was provided by Jeff Ou. 
There are two seasons for ginger. One is in the 
summer. The ginger is good for pickling which
you will find in the sushi bars. Another season is in 
the winter. It is good to be a spicy ingredient.    
The lady was more than 70 years 
old. She planted gingers between 
tea plants. She explained to us that 
the soil can't grow ginger again 
once it has been harvested.
She would sell the gingers on the 
street during the Lunar New Year.
These gingers looked good and
hopefully they could be sold for a
good price. 
Another agricultural product along the trail was tea
plantations. It is the largest tea production area in Taiwan.
During the harvest season, visitors can see tea leaves
being spread along the road to the temple. One can 

smell the tea fragment at night with a nice breeze.
The tea can be picked 4-6 times per year. The best tea 
is produced in the winter and the spring time.
Photo was taken by Jeff Ou. 
This is the standard of picking tea leaves which is
3 leaves and one sprout. It would make the tea
better tasting.
Photo by Jeff Ou
Tea tasting in the store: Jeff insists on only selling teas 
that are produced in Taiwan since there are a lot of 
tea imported from China and Vietnam.
Photo by Jeff Ou
Pineapple is one of the major agricultural products
in the Songboling area. Its harvest season is in August.    

Photo by Jeff Ou
This was an interesting photo. A teddy bear was
hung in the center of the pineapple farm.  
Almost every pineapple wore a hat
for preventing the sun burn and inset bits. 
Wearing hat pineapples with Teletubbies  
Because of its geological location which can 
see the Taiwan Strait, Songboling became an 
important military site. The government installed 
7 pillboxes around this area. Now these military 
abandon instalations became a leisure activity for tourists. 

The military pillbox look out area set in the
pineapple and tea fields. 
Another pillbox which can see the western plains. 
I was not sure if I would walk into the facility
because I might encounter snakes. 
After the 921 earthquake, the Formosa macaques'
habitat was damaged. They migrated to Songboling 

area for the abundant of food. 
Photo by Jeff 
Tourists embraced these monkeys but the locals
hated these monkey for stealing their agricultural
products or food in their familys shrine.
Photo by Jeff Ou
While majority stores sell tea, there is an unique
store selling coffee. It is not easy to survive in the
village as most tourists go there to buy tea. On the
other hand, the store provide an alternate selection
for newly found coffee lovers.
Photo by the store manager
The store attracted many foreigners to buy his coffee.
The coffee was fermented with tea for a month which
was the owner's special receipt. The tea penetrated into
the coffee bean which makes the coffee the taste of tea.
Photo by the store manager
Ecological Lives in Songboling:
Below photos were taken by Jeff Ou who has spends a lot of his time to photographing these beautiful animals. Please don't download the photos for commercial use. Here is his Facebook page:   

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