Friday, April 06, 2012

A Secret Pathway in Dulan

     We didn't have specific plans for this trip. We just played it by ear on the east coast in Taitung county. I decided to visit this small aboriginal town of Dulan because of its well-known and humorous name to common people in Taiwan. Dulan which is Atolan in the Amis tribe language means walls built by stones. But it is not the reason that made it so well-known in Taiwan. 
     The pronunciation of Dulan has made it famous. Du is a verb which means poke. Lan refers to male sex organ in Taiwanese language. Dulan means poke male's sex organ which infers to being unhappy, dislike, and other meanings, like againest someone's opinion etc. It is folks' way to express their feelings toward somethings or someones whom they dislike. 
     If you come to visit this place, you might be surprised why there are so many vendors selling school bags. To my understanding, it is because of the printed characters of Dulan on the bag.  

The view was taking from the entrance at the  Dulan Mountain trail.
We drove 4.3KM from the main highway arriving at the entrance.

      The Amis tribe believes that the Dulan Mountain is their God's living place. To the Puyuma tribe, it is their Holy mountain. Also it is the only place where sapphire stones are found in Taiwan. 
Dulan Mountain, Taitung
Dulan Mountain is 1,190 meter high. The trail is about
3,792 meter long. The elevation at the start of the trail is about 

600 meter high. 
Taiwan Butterflies
It cultivates a rich ecological environment because of the wind and
moisture from the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 370 kinds 

of butterflies in Taiwan. Taiwan used to be a butterfly kingdom which 
1/4 of butterflies in the world were found. It created US$ 30,000,000 
output value per year before 1975.  After 1975, more people
focused on the environmental issue, so the export of the butterfly business
We walked about 5 minutes and I gave it up
because we just brought one bottle of water and
didn't have breakfast. It would be a miserable
hiking experience. We have to be responsible for
our action. 
Coming down from the trail entrance, we had
a better view to see the city of Taitung and the
bay area.  
A fishing port
     After visiting the trail entrance, we drove to the town center of Dulan. I spotted the sign of the Dulan Archaeological Site. The entrance was near by the police station. We followed the sign driving on a one lane wide road to reach the site. First we arrived at the stone coffin (sarcophagi) area. Parking was not available on this one land road. We decided to pass this site and move on. 
It was a small town and there was no traffic on the road.
We stopped our car and took this photo that reminded me of 
Mirror Lake in the Yosemite National Park in the United States.   
This stone tablet inscribed the history of the Amis Tribe.
According to the oral interviews and archaeological evidences,
the Amis tribe appeared in this area up to 3,500 year ago.
Their ancestors settled in the lowland area; however, because
of an earthquake triggered tsunami destroying the entire village,
their ancestors moved to this highland area. It is now the
current location of the tribe.    
I followed this trail to the stone wall area. 
     Dulan Archaeological Site belonged to Megalithic Culture which was also called Chilin Culture. It was discovered by the Japanese archaeologist Torii Ryuzo in 1926. The artifacts on the excavated site had ceramics, stone coffins, and stone wares etc. For more information, please visit:        

There are three standing stones around this area. Archaeologists
believe that the function of these stones severed for ritual
ceremonial purposes. 
This road reminded me of the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin.   
This was the Ice Age Trail in July in Wisconsin.   
We were led by the trail to this Moonlight Inn. We were surprised
by the wonderful surrounding environment.
On a clear day, visitors can see two offshore islands which are Green Island
and Orchid Island. The view was fantastic.  
The Moonlight Inn is a two story building. It doesn't offer accommodation.
It offers some desserts and soft drinks. The first floor offers a space
for the local artists to display their artworks.    
The second floor was the scene for filming the movie The Moon Also Rises
in 2005. It preserves the scene and is open to the public. The admission is free.
They were all dentists. The girl in the middle was practicing
her English songs with her guitar. It was nice to listen to her
beautiful voice and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 
The trail indicator was a little bit far away from the main road.
Visitors had to find their way to the Moonlight Inn and then
they could study this map.  
This was a private sugar cane factory which was built in 1916.
During WWII, it produced alcohol as fuel for the Japanese
fighter planes. It was bombed by the US military. After the
declined of the sugar business, the owner released the spaces to
artists as their studios and a place to display their artworks.  
The history of the factory
This is one of its spaces releasing to the store owner who sells
local artists artwork and other neat stuff.  
We came across this westerner and started chatting with him.
He came from France and was an engineer. He gave up his
nice life and came to Dulan with his Taiwanese wife. We heard
there were at least 20 westerners living in the east coast area.
We were surprised by the fact.   
These handmade bags are his creation with really good quality work. He and
his wife also sell some fresh French pastries. It tasted good. They normally are at

 the sugar cane factory on Sat and Sunday with other artists. 
     I searched for some information when I was writing this article. I learned that the residents in Dulan dislike outsiders using their city name to imply the Taiwanese language of dislike. They are proud of  their artistic achievements and their cultural heritages of the Amis tribe; however, I had to admitted that I was attracted to visit this place because of the Taiwanese language's implication. After visiting this town, I like this place very much and understand why it attracts people to visit and be willing to stay there. It has its significant history and culture, extraordinary scenery, and friendly people which makes it a wonderful and desirerable place to visit.    
     It does not matter how the outsiders think about Dulan as a town or an improper language, I think the importance is to attract people to visit this place and then fall in love with this place. They will change their stereotype of thinking. It is a different way to promote the city. Welcome to visit beautiful Dulan! 


  1. Where, exactly, is the Dulan Mountain Trail trailhead? Can you tell me which highways I would take to get there? I plan to drive from Hualien in March and would like to hike the trail.

    1. Hi, Gill:
      It is located on the Coast Highway 11 kilometer marker 151.5 K, head west to go up the hill. You will see a giant stone inscribed with three red Chinese characters : 都蘭山 at the entrance of the mountain road. You can drive your car up to the trailhead. The driving road is ended with a pavilion. You can park your car there and start your hike. The link below is the officail website. You can check it out.

    2. Thank you, Twan Ou. Using Google Street View and your directions, I was able to locate the road that leads to the trail. Thanks a bunch! The Google cameras show us the big stone that you're talking about and, at the end of the road, a sign that identifies the trailhead. How do you like this trail? Are there others near Taitung that you like better? I probably have time to hike just one trail near Taitung.


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