by Theresa Yiju Lin
A folk song tells the beauty of Alishan. Green mountains, azure water, friendly people - they are the essences of Alishan. Despite some area are damaged by the earthquake on September 21, 1999, today Alisan is still rated the first of all the mountains in Taiwan.
The story of Alisan began with the chief of Tsou tribe, Abali, about 250 years ago. He often went hunting in the mountain and usually brought back much food. Later in his life, he guided many of the Tsou people to the mountain that led them to the sources of living supports. After he passed away, Tsuo people named it Alishan (Ali Mountain) to remember his contribution to the people.
Alishan lies on the border of Yushan. The New Central Highway connects Alishan and Yushan, which provides the visitors more convenient transportation, and the aborigines' life and festivals attract many curious tourists each year.
The main residents in Alishan, Tsou, host two major festivals each year. They are Mayashivi in mid-February and Homeyaya in August. Homeyaya is the celebration of the harvesting of millet, and it is also an important family holiday for Tsou people. Attending Homeyaya can be arranged, but it is somewhat difficult.
Mayashivi festival is more accessible for visitors to taste the flavor of the Tsou culture. In the ancient time, attending Mayashivi was the preparation for war. There are various ritual ceremonies during the festival, but the spirit is for the men in the tribe to present their bravery and announce their ability to guard the tribe. The dances, wardrobes and songs indicate people's social status and their responsibilities in the community.
Visiting Alisan, you may want to make sure to capture the scenarios the Five Marvels. They are sunrise, sunset, sea of clouds, woods and the Alisan Forest Railway.
Alishan sunrise has a reputation as one of the eight must-sees in Taiwan, and many accommodations in Alishan provide wake-up services. Many tourists will be up as early as 4 a.m. for the hike in order to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise. Lying on the Tropic of Cancer, the sun rises from different locations depending on the time of the season.
In the summer (June), the best viewing spot is Zushan. Riding the sunrise train from the Alisan Railroad Station or Zaoping Station, it takes about 25 minutes to arrive at the entrance of the sunrise plaza. Then, taking a 40 minutes hike, tourists can reach the Zushan pavilion and enjoy the astounding sunrise. Zushan is also the utmost north place for the sunrise viewing. In the winter (December), the sun rises from the utmost southern spot that is also the south of the main peak of Yushan. In the spring (March) and autumn (September), the sun rises at about 6 a.m. by the north peak of Yushan. In the area, there are several different trekking routes that lead the visitors to these destinations.
Other famous mountains in China:
Mount Taishan Mount Huashan Mount Huangshan
Mount Lushan Mount Putuoshan Mount Wutaishan
Mount Wuyishan Mount Changbaishan