Yilan Hiking and Cycling Trail (3) Bicycle ride along Yuanshan and Dahu

Written and photographed / Hsieh Li Chung

  Yuanshan Village, Yilan is renowned for both fishball noodle and springs. Its rural landscapes, limpid waters and the pristine Fushan Botanical Garden, Shuanglian Pei, are among the favorite scenic spots of sightseers.

  Shuanglian Pei, located 500 meter high above sea level, is populated mainly by Hakka. The pre-historic aquatic plants in the lake gained the attention of conservationists several years ago. Shuanglian Pei was originally a hunting ground for Taiya aborigines; it was not till the Japanese Occupation that Han people were encouraged to settle in this virgin forest. Some Cantonese-speaking Hakka from Hsinchu finally move in. The industrious Hakka painstakingly cultivated the land and gave Shuanglian Pei its present look. Most Hakka families have since then re-settled to the lowlands. Visitors en route to Shuanglian Pei necessarily pass by Yuanshan Township. The rustic village itself has much to offer – the best way to enjoy the village is to cycle through the quiet alleyways in a bicycle.

  Do you miss the sight of childhood days where countless sparrows perched nonchalantly on power transmission lines? The sight of YuanShan Village paddy fields during harvest will almost surely bring back memories of yester-year. The Great Lake, a scenic spot at the foot of the mountain, is a body of crystal-clear water in the shape of a fluttering swan. Stopovers by migratory birds give the spot a celestial touch. Visitors could find here a complete range of recreational facilities.

  In close proximity are Er Lake and BengShan Lake with luxuriant fruit gardens. Pillow Mountain is zoned as a leisure agricultural area with many hostels.

  The entire Yuanshan area reveals diversified outlook, and should suffice for 1-day or 2-day trip. Furthermore, bicycle lover can travel around along country tracks of the fields, without interruption, to enjoy the beauty of the country.

  Starting from Yilan Sports Park, one can go along a stream that empties into the Great Lake. Afterward, one can go back to downtown Yilan from the northern side of the lake. Since the entire route for farming is all linked up, one can ride to the Yilan Administration Center to have a view of the old tree and drink a cup of coffee. No. 10 county highway of Yilan opens to a panoramic view of rural landscape. During the harvest of scallion, a sight to behold is one of farmers washing their crops in the stream while riotous flocks of sparrow gather nearby to feed. These happy co-existence of bird and men in a backdrop of open field paints a most endearing picture. A koi farm just a stone’s throw away will definitely be a treat for passer-bys.

  The swan-shape Great lake spans 400 meters at its longest edge and has a width of 200 meters. Lush greenery delineates the body of clear water, which like a mirror reflects the scenery around it to create the most magnificent sight. The water of the lake which gushes forth from an underground spring is said to alter its color depending on the seasons: it is green in spring, yellow in summer, grayish in autumn and blue in winter. For leisure, one could choose either to stroll along the banks or to paddle a boat on the lake. If a bird-lover visiting the lake in fall or winter would catch sight of migratory birds such as Siberian ducks and egrets.

  To catch a panoramic view of the Great Lake, a sightseer can go uphill along the GongZai Estate Road to have a commanding view of the lush greenery and crystal-clear waters. One should take extra caution when descending as the steep and meandering GongZai Estate Road. It promises to be a big challenge to the cyclist’s stamina. Plantations near the Er-Lake and the BengShan Lake, to the north of the Great Lake, offer an assortment of fruits: pineapple, star-fruit, grapefruit, color and sweet pepper, and pear. Plantations in the neighboring Pillow Hill produce tangerine, guava, kumquat and wax apple all year round. Pillow Hill recently added several new hostels which can be good lodging for visitors.