Taiwan Fun Magazine, June 2007

"Black and White Streams": Where local residents do their laundry and children play, this area's name comes from two streams that originate at the Shimen Reservoir— one is clear, one turbid.

SanKeng Old Street

May Snow in LongTan & the Search for Tung Blossoms

Words and photos by Eden Lin Translated by Ann Lee

The snows may have already passed, but the seasonal Tung flower's fragrance, along with spring nostalgia, still lingers in some parts of the island.

May is that time of the year, when the Tung flowers bloom unscrupulously in the old town of LongTan. This flower, representing the Hakka spirit, blooms when snow is seen on mountaintops, tips of trees, and glitters on the soil.

Besides the Tung flower, there is much to do and see at the 18-acre tourist hotspot known as LongTan Pond. In the middle of the pond, visitors can see the Nan-Tian Palace, the main religious center for town residents. A red suspension bridge stretches over both sides of the water, providing a good place to watch the ducks and migrating birds that call LongTan home. Visitors can enjoy a simple, pleasant stroll around the lake, complete with a cool breeze and shady trees.

After taking a walk, visitors will see what locales refer to as "LongTan's First Street"—SanKeng Old Street. In earlier days, this area was considered a flourishing water-land freight transport site. Many old buildings are still kept in good condition and some of these architectural landmarks, even to this day, house citizens. Although the old street's ambiance is tranquil, the residents are generally friendly and enthusiastic. Visitors can also rent bikes and take a relaxing ride down nicely planned bicycle trails. On weekends, local Hakka women sell homemade rice snacks that are definitely worth trying.

Visitors searching for May snows and Tung blossoms can find their elusive goal along the Little Rough Pit Ancient Path or in the Gao Yuan Community. Built in the Japanese colonial era, the Little Rough Pit Ancient Path was originally a roadway for cattle. Now, Tung trees are planted along the path, providing blossoms that flutter everywhere as you walk. The Path's entrance supports an art space that is created with red brick, dead wood and pottery works by artist Zhu Yi-Cheng, who named the place Cu Keng Yao, or "Rough Pit Kiln". Throughout the year, tourists can enjoy various types of flower watching—Chinese Wisteria in April, Tung flowers in May, Ginger Lilies in September—taste teas, listen to the sounds of nature, or create their very own pottery piece.

The Gao Yuan Community, another blossom spot, is famous for its Long Quan Tea, and tea fields are in abundance. The lake mouth, located near Shimen Reservoir, has high-terraced ground which overlooks layers of small peaks and provides a view of Daba Mountain. Needless to say, the scenery is stunning—an area ultimately enjoyed by bike. The mountain roads here are filled with Tung flowers and, in some seasons, snow. From a distance, the mountaintops look just like the snow-covered peaks in the north. Currently, there are plans for building a themed-based Tung flower village, so that people can learn more about the beloved blossoms.

If you would like to take a deeper look at Tung flowers in LongTan, check out the official websites of the Taoyuan County Government and Cultural Bureau at www.tyccc.gov.tw, or the LongTan Township Administration Office at www.lungtan.gov.tw.

How to get there:
1. SanKeng Old Street: After exiting the LongTan Interchange from the #2 northern freeway, connect to County Rt. 113 towards Shimeng Reservoir. Turn right at Quan-Qiao High School, then drive for about another 5 kilometers on Provincial Rt. 3.
2. Rough Pit Kiln:
(03) 471-9010
15-2, GaoPing Village, LongTan Town, CuKeng 2nd Neighborhood, Taoyuan County
Hours: 9 am-7 pm (closed on Tuesday)
Minimum charge NT$100/person, DIY Pottery NT$100/piece, for glazing and the use of kiln NT$200/piece.

Directions: Drive towards the Shimen Reservoir after exiting the #2 northern freeway at the DaXi Interchange. Continue on ZhongZheng Road, San-Keng section which connects to LongYuan Road. Turn onto the road next to XingYuan Restaurant, then follow the road signs for about 500 meters

Live music performances every 4th Saturday of the month from 7-9 pm. Minimum charge NT$150/person.

Rough Pit Kiln