Lazy day in Japanese house, spa/ aboriginal issues
Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
106Trip End Dec 31, 2008
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Total Distance: 10km
A lazy day, but a lot to write about aboriginal background information.
OK, decided to enjoy the historical and aboriginal environment with hot springs for another day. At 8:00 am I soaking in the hot spring pool in the garden under large old trees - how relaxing. Then breakfast in the village and reading and writing in the lounge open roofed area. The owner, or better the couple that rents and runs the place from their friend explains us a lot about the history. The man speaks very well English:
- the oldest part is about 100 years old
- was built by the Japanese as a soldiers' club and recreation place
- the trees around are over100 years old
- one tree/bush/palm-like is called " Tiae Shu " or Iron Tree, is 150 years old , but still pretty small as it grows very slowly
- shows and explains the old photos on the wall:
-- local indiginous people carry the Japanese visitors in sedan-chairs from Ruei Shuei train station to the hot spring resort for payment
-- Area in old times
-- Japanese with aboriginies
-- Aboriginies with hunted heads
- the hot spring in Ruei Shuei has a mineral content which can only be found at two locations in the world - here and in Kyoto, Japan
Around lunch time the landlady offers us two bowls of Hsi Fan with Yu Tou ( water rice with Taro ). Tastes great and makes full.
At 11:30am we walk to a cow farm ( you have to know that Taiwan has only a very limited number of cows ), of which we only have the general direction. We can walk a safe way along the road, but that would be a huge detour. We choose the assumed direct line and end up crossing one of these very wide gravel dried out rivers. To our surprise and 45 minutes later we arrive pretty close to the farm - well done
In the evening we go back into the nice aboriginal restaurant/coffee shop. We order a set menue and get a wonderful dinner for 180 NTD. All is served on beautifully styled white dishes. The food is made of all locally grown or forest picked aboriginal vegetables - wonderful - and includes Chiao Mi Jiou ( Millet wine ), Juice and Salad. Tasty and well presented. A bit later a man comes to our table and we have a longer conversation:
- his name is Eyum in aboriginal language
- he is the local magistrate and a Hualien County Council member
- he is from a very poor family, so supporting his education was almost impossible to bear for the family
- the wants the local economy to grow for the benefit of the local aboriginal economy; therefore he initiated the restaurant. He also intended to teach them hygene, style and service.
We also talk about the issues troubling the aboriginal community:
- the land in this area is zoned as ' Aboriginal Land ', which means that the Han Chinese cannot buy the land, they can only rent it. All the fency new spas and spa hotels are built by the wealthy Han Chinese, the local Aborigines have enough money to compete.
- the Han Chinese try to bring through legislation to rezone the land, which would classify the land as non aboriginal land and make it legal for them to buy the land. He is opposed to such unfavorable change.
- he wants to create an own hot spring facility owned and operated by the local population. He already got the OK for financial support from the government for drilling for hot spring water
- when I suggest not only to rent the land, but also include a partnership clause in the operation he says that the Aboriginies have bad experiences with joint projects with Han Chinese. One such negative example was a joint project in Nantou, business-wise very successful. Then the Han partners pushed through the rezoning of the land in which the Aboriginal status was cancelled. This meant that the aboriginal shareholders had to pay taxes, which they could not afford. The shares went to the Han Chinese partners.
- he says things take a lot of time
- - for changes to ask him again in 5 years.
- - it cost him 5 years to get a consensus in the 1.600 soul community
- - communication does not get easier with four different Christian churches in the community - here the other village we know in Hsinchu County, Se Ma Ku Se with only one church has it much easier.
- - the coffee shop with all its buildings and arts has been built by the initiative of the local people- another congratulation.
- - it took a long time to teach style, cleanness, hygene and order in restaurant and kitchen - very successful
- he also knows a German lady ( professor ) from the time back when she spent time here to research about Amei traditions and medicine men/women.
- he has two children of which
- - the daughter studies arts in Spain ( problem is that the EURO gets stronger and stronger against NTD and other currencies )
- - son has finished his studies and serves now in the militay
- he does not agree with my proposal that the pricing of the afternoon tea offer should be changed. Forget it.
We thank him and appreciate the cooking and service by talking to the ladies from the restaurant and kitchen.
On the way back from this wonderful and interesting evening we pass by a workshop for bows and arrows ( aboriginal traditional hunting tools ).
Tomorrow we will go river rafting! One cross way paddling and not walking - counts also as sport