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COMPASS MAGAZINE, September 2006.

  Qingjing Farm:
Taiwan's Little Europe in the clouds

---By Niang Chen Translated by Sho Huang

A drive along the Puli to Wufeng section of the Highway 14 Jia (?) Spur will bring you to a mountainous dreamland, Qingjing Farm. To many visitors, it's like discovering Shangri-La, with green meadows that extend into the clouds, mist and fog. As the seasons change, visitors get to see blossoming spring flowers, summer greenery, colorful maple leaves in fall, and snow in the winter. The local scenery also can change from one second to the next with sunsets and sunrises and mists trapped in the valley.

Qingjing was once known as "Jiangjing". Compared to the humid and crowded cities on the plains, it is a retreat with fresh, cooler air. Just as good, perhaps because of its good location, the area doesn't seem to be affected much during typhoon season, even as other mountain roads in Nantou county might be blocked by storms and rain. Local visitors also seem to take particular enjoyment from watching Qingjing's flocks of sheep, seen grazing on the wavy, green-carpeted meadows. During weekdays, Qingjing can be a quiet yet friendly place. On holidays, by contrast, busloads of tourists can pour in. Shops to the side of the meadows sell all sorts of mountain vegetables and fruit. Pickled vegetables, bamboo shoots and sheeps' milk products can all be tasted, even if you don't end up purchasing anything. Beigua North Melon, a rare vegetable with melon-like fibers, is also called Shark Fin Melon and has a light taste after cooking.


Qingjing's history dates back to around 1960, when the government relocated many retired mainland soldiers from China's Yunnan province, Myanmar (Burma) and North Thailand here. As a result of media coverage, Yunnanese and Burmese dishes here have become famous. From this unlikely base in Taiwan's central mountains, the special cuisine has won over many loyal diners with exotic flavors and items like the Yunnanese snack, Pea Powder Salad, and Mama Lu's Babao Fish with assorted ingredients. Peanut powder, chili and other exotic spices are added to traditional Yunnan dishes. Through time, this combination of a mountain climate and specially-fragrant Yunnanese cuisine has become a Qingjing specialty.

Qingjing's comfortable climate and gorgeous scenery, together with a convenient location along the road network connecting to Hehuan (Hohuanshan) Mountain, Dayu Dayuling, the Wushe tea plantations, and Lushan hotsprings area, have attracted many visitors from the lowland to boost the local tourism industry. A growing number of tourists has also resulted in the more recent phenomenon of European-style guesthouses and hotels. Bright, uniquely-styled architecture blends in with the background mountains to give the area a new nickname, Little Europe. Every European guesthouse has its own ideal setting and unique atmosphere. Some are built on steep slopes that overlook a beautiful lake, or sit in a valley for great views of the stars at night. Camping is also a good option and Qingjing campsite offers complete facilities. Sleeping on a soft, yet firm, green grass bed and breathing in the sweet scents of the mountains guarantees a good night's rest.


Although you can't escape convenience stores, cafes and herbal teashops, these have all changed their appearances in Qingjing to match the environment. Having a cup of coffee in the cloud and mist filled setting is a great way to enjoy a latte or cappuccino while enjoying a stunning scenic vista.

Another Qingjing attraction is its different flowers and fruit which vary from season to season. In spring (January to March), you'll see plum and cherry blossoms. From June to September, sweet, fragrant and juicy peaches can be enjoyed fresh from the trees, or at numerous vendor stalls. The whole place is filled with their sweet aroma. Some guesthouses also have their own peach orchards and allow guests to pick for free. Picking a fresh peach and biting into it, so that the juice explodes into your mouth, is something that must be experienced. Then, in September, it's the season for harvesting apples, pears and kiwi fruit. Because of the local climate, a certain type of sweetness reputedly forms around the core of apples transplanted here, so that they are crunchier and sweeter compared to ones found elsewhere.

Numerous walkways weave through the mountains and can take you to "Little Switzerland". Any winding path, or just a turn around the bend, can bring you surprising new views of mountains, water, sky and earth. It really doesn't matter which season it is, as you'll find it hard to take your eyes off the scenery here, as the winding Highway 14 takes you away from the noisy masses on the plains and deposits you in this serene escape in the clouds.


Qingjing businesses:
Yunnan Cuisine Restaurant
196-1, RenHe Road, Datong Cun (village), Renai Xiang (township), Nantou County (near Bu Bu Gao Sen Trail, Taiwan Provincial Highway 14)
This place has reasonable prices and a convenient location but it's small, so that it easily fills up at mealtimes. The Pea Powder Salad, and Rice Noodles are all tasty.

Ma Ma Lu's Yunnan Bai Yi Dishes
36-2, Bo Wang Lane, Datong Cun (village), Renai Xiang (township), Nantou County (in Bo Ai Xin Cun). Heading toward Hehuan Mountain, pass Qingjing's meadow and police station, and it's on the right-side lane. (049) 280-3876
This restaurant is open almost daily unless the weather is awful. Babao Fish, filled with spices and deep-fried, is crispy on the outside and fresh and sweet inside. Jin Sa--ground meat wrapped with cabbage leaves--is enjoyed like a shrimp cake. You can taste Ma Ma Lu's love and effort in all the dishes here.

Yuan Ye Culture Trip
30, Bo Wang Lane, Datong Cun, Renai Xiang, Nantou County; (049) 280-1929, 0910-507-210
This tourist center, rebuilt after the 1999 9-21 earthquake, can arrange guided, in-depth maple or snow walks. The place also provides boarding and food. Local Qingjing guides, who know the area well, lead the tours.

Routes for Getting There:
1. North-South Freeway Rt. 3 - Caotun (Tsaotun) exit - Taiwan Provincial Highway 14 - Puli - Wushe - Qingjing Farm
2. Zhongshan North-South Freeway Rt. 1 - Changhua exit - Freeway Rt. 3 - Caotun (Tsaotun) exit - Taiwan Provincial Highway 14 - Puli - Wushe - Qingjing Farm (from Caotun to Qingjing is about 80 kilometers and about a 90-minute drive)
1. Zhong Tou (Taichung-Nantou) Expressway - Taiwan Provincial Highway 14 - Puli - Wushe - Highway 14 "Jia (?)" Spur - Qingjing Farm
2. Zhong Tou (Taichung-Changhua) Expressway Rt. 74 - Taiwan Provincial Highway 14 - Puli - Wushe - Highway 14 "Jia (?)" Spur - Qingjing Farm

Public Transportation
You can either take a train or a bus to Taichung, and then catch a bus heading to Puli from Gancheng Bus Station. (Quanhang Bus, Puli Bus, Nantou Bus companies) Once at Puli, catch the bus going to Songgang or Cuifeng. It should take you to Qinjing Farm. (From Taichung to Qingjing is about 90 kilometers and it takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.)

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