Yilan Leisure Track and Field (1) Disappearing Hakka City in Luodong
Written and photographed / Hsieh Li Chung
Luodong, largely inhabited by Fukienese, would probably be the most impressive settlement among the three centers of the Taiwanese timber industry. However, at Pei-chien village of Luodong there is a big rock carved “Hakka City”, indicating that there used to be a Hakka village in Lanyan Plain long before the Wu Sha arrived.
The Hakka settlement in Lanyan area is probably linked to Wu Sha. Although his exploration team largely consists of folks from Chan Chou, there were also some Hakkas from Shau An, Ping He, and Nan Ching. It should therefore not be a surprise if there were other Hakka cities or townships similar to Pei-chien village. For there remain traces left in Yilan, Wyan Shan and Dong-chien of Dong Shan Village of Hakka inhabitation, and so as Datung and Yulan areas, whose migration is of later origin, near the mountains of the Taiya tribe. Till today, there are still some residents there who speak Hakka.
One can take a trip from Luodong through towns and villages like Yuanshan, Dongshan, and Yulan to find remnants of Hakka cultural artifacts – a trip rendered more culturally rewarding since the development of Yilan left little traces of Hakka presence.
Like the Hakka settlements, the sun-set lumber industry of Luodong, would probably disappear with time. Replaced by spawning modern cities, vibrant and full of vitality, epitomized by Luodong night market well-noted for its snacks. Luodong has the largest sport park in Taiwan, while the nearby Pei-chien Village has thriving agricultural leisure and cultural artifacts businesses. Therefore, visitors can either walk around the hustling market streets or take a stroll in the forest to find remains of its lumber industry.
When the train arrives at Luodong from Yilan City, one would see a big pond on the right. This pond is used as the lumber storage pool in the heydays of the logging industry – a starting point which many visitors begin tracing back the glorious days of Luodong’s lumber industry.
After exiting the Chinese styled train station, visitors can head west along Kung Chien Road, turn right at the Chung Chien Road intersection and walk about 500 meters to come to the Forestry Management Department. A stroll through the silent with hostels of Forestry Affairs Bureau on the two sides definitely gives visitors a glimpse of days past. The end of the alley leads to a big field and brings one back to the lumber storage pond. On the right, there are six Luodong locomotives that run between Luodong forestry railway (the flat land lot between the land farm and Luodong) and Tai Ping Mountain railway (mountainous lot). The dark and dim black of the engines remind people of its glorious days.
Located at the end of the vast field is the old lumber storage pool. The Forestry Management Department has plans to convert the pool into an aquatic plant pond. Alongside, there are neat rows of vegetations- restful and comforting to walk through. Close to the pond, one will be captivated by the sudden flights of wild duck and heron branch birds. With roaring trains that passed by frequently, one could not but recollect the prosperous days gone by.
Should any visitors have not gotten enough of Luodong forestry railway heritage, he could drive along Kung Chien Road, pass Pei-chien sport park and Luodong Creek and arrives at Da Chou Primary School. On the other side of the primary school and the police station, there is an alley between a grocery store and rice shop. One will find in the alley a deserted and obsolete wooden structure before an antiquated residence along the straight country road. The wooden structure looks like a private house, but one can tell at closer inspection that it used to be a station. Indeed, this is the railway station put together after Luodong forestry railway is torn down. Though re-assembled later, it retains lots of its original flavor.
Pei-chien Village, located on the west of Luodong City, sits right next to the famous sport park. Pei-chien Road extends as far as from downtown to the village, and there are garden houses of various styles and fields on both sides. Just like the lush greenery in Yilan, the spot is as pleasant as it can be. And the big rock “Hakka City” stands right at the roadside, and there are the “Hakka City Tea House” and “Pei-Chien Village Tea Art and Lotus House” in the neighborhood, leaving visitors with a rural touch.
The brick house personally built by its former owner Chen Kuo Chang is an ideal country house. Today, visitors will be treated to delicious oily pork rice and other traditional farm-house dishes, tea, and even recreation for children. Visitors can also learn Er-hu, calligraphy, and porcelain making. In addition, a hydroponics farm managed by Mr. Chen Jun-hong will allow visitors to pick lotus flower seeds next month. Mr. Chen also provides organic meal, tea, and graceful hostel. Guests can also travel around the field with rented bicycle.