It's snowing in Miaoli

By Dipal Khatri Translated by Ann Lee

It snows twice a year in Tongluo Township in Miaoli, or at least the ground is covered with a fluffy, white carpet. What is this mystery substance that powders the land in the spring and autumn? Flowers, of course! In the spring, the ground is covered with fallen petals from the Tung trees; in the autumn it's the chrysanthemums' turn to shine.

Tongluo is the only area in Taiwan that grows Hang Zhou Chrysanthemums (white daisies). These little flowers paint the town in romantic and peaceful hues when the weather turns cool--but only for a short while. The blooming season in Tongluo is shorter than most, so if you are not aware of when it is, you will probably miss it.

Most people in Taiwan know about the flower season in Tongluo, but tend to know more about the spring flowers than the Hang Zhou daisies. These special daisies grow on about 20 acres and have become a popular agricultural product in Tongluo. This year, vendors are selling the flowers for around NT$700 per half kilogram, which is half the price of what you would pay at any Chinese drugstore, with double the quality. Besides brewing tea with the flowers, you can also weave them into floral loops, cook with them, or purchase handmade daisy soup.

Even just walking around and enjoying the spectacle of thousands of flowers is worth a visit. If you come to Tonglou, you can take the Jiouhu Farm tour and get a close-up look at the daisies' growth and production. Afterwards, swing over to Fushinyuan Restaurant for a meal. The restaurant's owner, Ms. Chen, manages everything from taking orders and making food to cleaning up afterwards. She uses a lot of seasonal vegetables and other local produce to spice up her dishes, giving her traditional cuisine a creative flair. Some of the popular dishes here include Pork Stomach Stew and the Four Gods Soup, made with Job's Tears (white, bead-like grain), gorgon fruit and lotus seeds. Other highly-recommended dishes include the Plum Fish, Pork Stew with Taro, and Hakka-style Water Fern (vegetable dish).

Address: 62, Fushin Village, Tongluo Township, JhongShan Rd, Miaoli County, (03) 798-3345, (03) 798-1561.

Pick up a Souvenir:
Need a Christmas gift idea? Here are some suggestions from Tongluo. - A health-preserving tea package, made with Hang Zhou daisies: NT$150 (12 packs)
- Tongluo daisies (used for making teas): NT$200
- Hang Zhou Gift Package (2 cans of tea leaves): NT$400
- Taiwanese sweet cakes: Made into shapes like HSR cars, the cakes come in flavors like pineapple and sweet potato. The texture is similar to pineapple cake. Two other available treats are La Giara cake and Dora-Yaki (Japanese red bean pancakes). One box costs from NT$360 to NT$420. www.kehnong.com.tw

For more information about Tongluo Township, check out:

Day-tour inquiries:
(037) 985-187, 981-535, ext.17 or 18