Saturday, June 05, 2010

Ma-Kau Ecological Park

The Ma-Kau Ecological Park is composed of Cilan Forest Recreation Area, MinChih Forest Recreation Area and Giant Tree Garden. Originally, it was operated by the Veterans Affairs Commission; in April 2005, the ecological park was entrusted to the Coconut Tree Co. under the ROT (Rent-Operate-Transfer or Rehabilitate-Operate-Transfer) agreetment. The park is named after a spice tree, May Chang (Litsea cubeba; Aromatic litsea), that can be found abundantly in Cilan mountain (Cilan, 棲蘭, means habitat of orchid ). May Chang is called "Mountain Pepper" in Mandarin and "Ma Kau" by the Atayal aborigines in Taiwan. "Ma Kau" is the symbol of prosperity in Atayal, as the result, the whole ecological park was named "Ma-Kau Ecological Pak" by the Coconut tree Co.

The Ministry of the Interior proposed to add Ma Kau Ecological Park in the national park list in 2003, but it is now still one of the national parks with undefined status due to protests by the local aborigines. The cover range of the national park was preliminarily planned to a total area of about 53,000 hectares, including Wulai township, Taipei County, about 8,700 hectares, DaTong township, Ilan County, about 21,000 hectares, FuXing township, Taoyuan County approximately 9,200 hectares and Jianshi township, Hsinchu County, 14,000 hectares.

MinChih Forest Recreation Area (明池國家森林遊樂區, NT$120, free for MinChih resort guests; opening hours: 08:00-17:00, Map) is located at 68KM landmark of the Beiheng highway (highway no7), 54KM east to Ilan City and 68.5KM west to Dasi township,Taoyuan County, a border of Ilan and Taoyuan County as the old name "ChihDuan" (meaning the end of a pond) indicated. It was renamed "MinChih" (meaning clear pond) by the Minister of Defence,Chiang Ching-kuo, in 1964. The pond is an artifical lake built on a high altitude natural marsh, 1050-1700 meters above sea level. The landscape design was adopted from the Yuan and Song Dynasties creating a garden in garden style. A few cypresses stand in the pond as pens, the pond itself represents an ink slab and the water is the ink with mists wafting on the the mountain like a water ink painting, the pond expresses the beauty of Chinese calligraphy. A trail with low white walls on both sides leads to a garden in the garden, a roofed wall that seperates the garden into half, on one side is a landscape with waterfalls, ponds in a greenish cypress forest; on the other side, the ground of the courtyard is covered with white cobblestones. The deliberate broom marks on the ground creates an illusion of water marks on a pond, very Zen atmosphere, a great meditation room. Using water bouncing back into a jar that is berried underground creates echos that sound like piano notes is part of a re-creation of Japanese Tea Ceremony.

The Giant Tree Garden is in the Cilan mountains, located on road No100 in Datong township, Ilan County, 21 Km to MinChih Forest Recreation Area, 26Km to Cilan Forest Recreation Area. It's the most dense redwood plantation left in Taiwan. Even thought it was opened to the public in 1991, the area is still a restricted area that alllows a maxium 720 visitors per day. To visit, one has to make a reservation with the Coconut Tree Co. (Tel: 02-2507-1339, Fax: 02-2507-3826, email: details below). There are 62 cypresses in the area over than 400 years old and 51 of them were nicknamed after some celebrities in Chinese history according to the year they were born. Trails in the area are 3.1km in total, can be devided into 2 parts, 1.2km of easy walking for about 26 tree sighting and 2.3km for all tree sighting.

This is one trip that I could easily recommend for anyone who would like to enjoy the incredible beauty of these majestic trees.

Booking the trip
Online booking:
Departing form MinChih or Cilan resort
Departing from Taipei Registration: 07:45 at Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, MRT exit 4; departs at 08:00 to MinChih Forest Recreation Area, Giant Tree Garden, returns to Taipei around 20:30.

Telephone booking: 02-2507-1339

Time Table:started on Jan. 20, 2010
Departing from Cilan resort
Departing from MinChih resort
Arrival 08:50
Tour finish 11:20
Meal for 30min
Departing for Cilan resort 12:10
Arrival at Cilan resort 13:10
Arrival 08:30
Tour finish 10:50
meal for 30min
Departing for MinChih resort 11:30
Arrival at MinChih resort 12:30
Arrival 11:30
Tour finish 14:00
Meal for 30 min
Departing for Cilan resort 14:50
Arrival at Cilan resort 15:50
Arrival 11:15
Tour finish 13:45
Meal for 30min
Departing for MinChih resort 14:20
Arrival at MinChih resort 15:20
Arrival 14:20
Tour finish 16:50
Departing for Cilan resort 17:00
Arrival at Cilan resort 18:00
Arival 14:00
Tour finish 16:20
Departing for MinChih resort 16:30
Arrival at MinChih resort 17:30

  1. For resort guests: adult, NT$600/person, 3-12 years old child: NT$450/person, child under 3 years old: NT$100/person.
  2. For non guests: adult, NT$800/person, 3-12 years old child: NT$550/person, child under 3 years old: NT$100/person.
  3. One day trip from Taipei: adult, NT$1290/person on weekdays, NT$1490/person on weekend,  3-12 years old child: NT$990/person, child under 3 years old: NT$100/person. The price includes transportation, entrance fees, lunch at MinChih resort, guide and insurance.
  4. Shuttle bus service NT$600/person; route: 08:00 Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, MRT exit 4 Taipei; 09:00 Ilan Train Station, 09:50 Cilan Forest Recreation Area, 11:00 MinChih Forest Recreation Area; 13:30 MinChih Forest Recreation Area, 14:30 Cilan Forest Recreation Area, 17:00 Ilan Train Station, 18:00 Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, MRT exit 4 Taipei.

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