Friday, January 20, 2012

Ita Thao by Sun Moon Lake

After spending 2 full days in Taipei, our real tour of the country began.
We booked a "5-Day/4-night Around Taiwan Island Tour" through Edison Travel a few weeks before we left home.

Our 5 day covered approximately 1350 km (838 miles) as drawn on this map of the island by our tour guide.
The small circles drawn were our sightseeing and overnight stops.

Our first major destination was Ita Thao Village by the scenic Sun Moon Lake. The area was severely damaged during a 1999 earthquake, but has been restored to attract tourists and maintain the Thao tribe's livelihood and culture. The Thao people are one of the many aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.

This is the village's main commercial thoroughfare and most visited by tourists.
As narrow and crowded as the street is, cars still drive by every so often so one has to be watchful.

Another view of the main thoroughfare from a different angle.
The building on the left is a hotel/restaurant with big windows for a beautiful view of the lake.

Right outside of the hotel/restaurant is the pier that leads to Sun Moon Lake.
Why Sun Moon Lake? The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, but in my opinion, I think you have to use your imagination to really see it.

At the end of the pier is this pavilion with the Sun Moon Lake name on the center post. Lots of tourists like to take their photos here with the lake in the background.

Opened in 2009, this ropeway consisting of 86 cars taking tourists up the mountain for a panoramic view of Sun Moon Lake and to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village at the other end. The cultural park features amusement rides, museums, and dance shows of various aboriginal tribes to serve both as entertainment and educational.

Various food booths on the main thoroughfare.

This vendor was very popular and always drew a crowd when I was there.
I believe she is mixing all the vegetarian ingredients that will be wrapped in dough and then deep fried.

I did try food from this vendor. The steamed white buns with spicy vegetables centered in the middle were delicious for this hungry tourist.

A mural depicts the Thao people at the entrance to the main street. As you can see, the lake and the owl are important to them.
Why an owl? Here is the story I found on a tourist information page... "According to Thao's legend, the owl is the incarnation of a Thao's girl, who was pregnant without being married. All Thao people, including her parents, could not forgive her. In a stormy night, she escaped into the mountain. After several days, a Thao's hunter found her dead body under a tree and an owl staying on the top of the tree. They believed the owl was her incarnation. Afterwards, an owl would fly over the house where a pregnant woman is living. The owl seems to tell Thao people that they have to take good care of the pregnant women.

I did not know this until I returned home to do some research of this store. Lin Yi-bei has a degree in interior design and worked in a design firm in Taipei. After getting tired of the fast-paced city, she wanted to slow down. One day she drove by Sun Moon Lake and saw a Formosan mountain scops owl and it was love. Gave up her job, studied about owls, opened this store and the rest is history.
You can read more about Lin Yi-bel here.

There's even an owl cafe, but it wasn't open when I was there.

- Karen


FilipBlog said...

Looks a very interesting place. The live cooking in the street is always fun.


betchai said...

i actually love trying street foods, I see the sun moon sign though in the pavillon :)

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful tour. The lake looks pretty, it would be neat to go to the top of the mountain and see the view of the lake from there. Great photos. Have a great weekend!

Emm said...

Wow, I have checked out their tours and they look amazing and quite reasonable too! I really do want to visit Taiwan one day or even Hong Kong, Tokyo or Singapore but Taiwan is top of my list.

Jana said...

beautiful reportage, I love the owls paiting! have a good weekend:-)

AVCr8teur said...

Filip: I think people like the food demonstration and then giving it a taste.

Betchai: There was a variety of street food and all so inexpensive compared to the U.S. dollar.

Eileeninmd: I have a view of the lake in my latest post. :)

Emm: The tour company (and guide) were amazing and fairly inexpensive especially staying at 4-5 star hotels. I hope my posts will entice you to go sooner. :)

Jana: Thank you for visiting & commenting.

Jenny Woolf said...

I love to walk down streets where people are cooking and selling food. I usually don't buy, I don't know why, except maybe because I like to smell so many different foods and can't possibly eat them all. But spicy vegetables in the bun sounds delicious and I think I would have been tempted by those.

Interesting legend about the owl. I wonder why an owl was the chosen bird - what qualities it shares with a pregnant woman. It is strange how the owl catches the popular interest in so many cultures.

Emm said...

My friend is moving to New Zealand so we've been talking about meeting up in Taiwan as a half way point. Hopefully 2012! And yes, your posts are lovely and definitely enticing me to visit.

Ryan said...

Fantastic, I'm glad you got to travel the length and breadth of the country and not just the touristy areas.

William K Wallace said...

Taiwan looks like a super place to visit. You have managed to explore such a lot of the country in your 5 day trip.