Children Between Mountains and Rivers- Chashan Leisure Agricultural Area

In the day time of Chashan, we followed the rhythm of the locals: bamboo shoot picking, wild aiyu jelly making, bamboo cutting and tube rice pudding cooking; at noon time, we followed hunters’ footsteps into the mountains to learn to hunt and gather to gain the in-depth experience of the Aborgine lifestyle and a glimpse into their wisdom; in the afternoon, we came to the river and waterfall to release our innate wildness- we took our courage to make a short sprint and yell along to jump from the 2-floor height into the cold and cool pond. Meanwhile, the BBQ fire was already lit up. We collected the potherbs by the riverbank to wrap the meat and enjoy the unique feast only found in the tribe.

Coming to Chashan, visitors can easily rid themselves of worries, get healed by the nature, return to their center and become children in the mountains and rivers, simply run and dance on earth.

Local specialties

Pilgrimage in the Tribes Gazebo hʉfʉ Gazebos are the Cou people’s living room, the right place for everyday exchanges or conversations. Cou people used to have indoor burials so the ancestors were buried under the living room and the millets were placed in the cool corner in the house. Non family members came inside the house and walked around would be disrespectful to the dead; besides, Cou people believe if they talked loudly inside of the house would disturb the Millet God so that the harvest of millets next year wouldn’t be good. Therefore, to show respect to the ancestors and the Millet God, Cou people built gazebos as the living room outside of their houses. As the culture and heritage changes, gazebos have become the important image of Chashan tribe. Passing by the gazebos, remember to watch the wooden sculpture whose head wears tell which people they are: the shape of diamond is for Bunun, and the shells and feathers are Cou. “Sharing Festival in Bazebos of Hʉfʉ Chashan Tribe” in winters is the most lively period in the tribe. Every gazebo has its unique decoration, together with agricultural produce, crafts and challenge activities to welcome visitors to celebrate the Cou festivities here in Chashan.

a veo veoyʉ Sharing Culture “a veo veoyʉ (My Heart is Filled with Joy)” is how Chashan people say “Thank You”. Through sharing and my heart is filled with joy, gratitude is expressed. Led by the tour guide in the tribe, visitors experience how hunters hid in the mountains and communicated via strange sounds made by a flute, folded by the fresh Beautiful Galangal leaves. The hunters exchanged messages in the make-believe magpie sounds. Or move your body, dance to the music and enjoy the aborigine dance in circle movement. After warming up, you can pound the mochi together with others and gradually the pounded millet ball gets thick and sticky. The best is to dip the mochi with the peanut-sugar powder and relish it when it is warm! Coming to Chashan, hand washing the endemic aiyu in high mountains is a must try. The cotton bag with aiyu within is steeped in the water and we rub it with our hands slightly. During the process, the texture of the liquid is changing to transparent yellow aiyu jelly in half an hour. Scoop some brown sugar and have a slice of lemon will make it the most refreshing and sour-sweet beverage in the sweltering afternoon!

Farming Experiences “The earth is a treasure trove” is the simple take away especially in the Chashan tribe where most people are farmers. It is the harvest season of bamboo shoots and the residents go to the bamboo groves and return with baskets of bamboo shoots. Sitting on the bamboo stool, the locals peel the leaves off and graft the bamboo shoots or marinate them and they are the tasty flavors of the season. For those who have sweet tooth can also make the fragrant candy in Chashan. The freshly harvested white sugarcanes are juiced, filtered and then stewed before cooled down and sliced into pieces. They are the most natural candy come from the soil.

Dunabana Ancient Trail One of the best ways to explore the Chashan tribe whose original name, “cayamavana (meaning the plain on the hills)”, is to walk the “Dunabana Ancient Trail”. The view is verdured all along the Ancient trail and the slope leads us up to the mountain ridges and when we arrive at the vantage point “Sunset Gazebo” of the tribe, we can overlook and enjoy the panorama view of the community.

The Tribal Flavors Cou People’s BBQ Cou people hang the rounded gridiron in the air and fix its four corners with wires so it looks like a suspended cone and then place the fresh fish, free range chickens, boar meat, sausages, etc on it and like rocking the cradle, the gridiron is spun and swung so to have the food heat averagely, the temperature and time is well managed to rid the excessive grease and keep the freshness and slight sweetness of the meat. When the food is served and cut, wrap it with the vegetables or pair it with onions and garlics before you have a big bite, we all enjoy the smoked taste of the BBQ feast in the mountains.

Hunters’ Wisdom Hunting and Gathering in the Nature and Building a Tatak (Hunter’s Shelter) Unlike general tours, this trip may be the most unforgettable one because you will follow the Cou people in Alishan (Mt. Ali) to go hunting. Carrying light backpacks and walking to the mountains, visitors following the Cou hunter are introduced to the hunting history- each family has their own inherited hunting field for generations. The ranges of the hunting field vary. They respect one another’s hunting fields and if they transgress other’s area, the games will be divided by proportion with one another, a tacit understanding of justice among hunters. And “Tatak teyova” is hunters’ shelter in the mountains. When the hunters built the shelter, they’ll pay attention to multiple details in order to make their own “House” strong. Visitors not only learn the ecological knowledge but also grasp the hunter’s culture that is in harmony with the nature through experienctial activities.

Making the Trap Looking for the Prey’s Footsteps As a hunter, you have to turn on your five senses, be humble and let the unknown lead you and guide you to the prey. Splitting the bamboo by the knife and making your own arrow and bow; placing the string and a little slice of wood on the way chickens pass by and taking advantage of the physical effect to catch the game; even traps or different marks are set to indicate the range of the hunters’ hupa (meaning the hunters’ domain), the declaration of the hunter’s sovereignty; or hide in the Formosan Sugar Palms and wait for the prey’s arrival.

Learning Traditional Fish Hunting - Natural Fish Trap The wisdom of the indigenous people comes from the nature; it can be applied to not only hunting, but also fishing. The bushes by the sides are the common Formosan Sugar Palm, which is also the best material to catch the fish and shrimps. The Formoan Sugar Palms are as tall as people, so the indigenous people collect the leaves and cut them off the end, arrange them in the same direction, and bind them up, which makes a natural sieve to catch fish. The feeds will be placed inside the leaves and the trap will be laid in the shallow river bed with a stone on top of it. As the river flows and passes through the spaces, the fish and shrimps gradually swim to the trap to eat and rest. Waiting for some time and taking the bamboo trap out is the end of fishing. Peel the shrimp, Shashimi, to taste its sweetness directly; or put the shrimp in the bamboo barrels with the bamboo shoots and potherbs, then season with rice wine and salt before cooking over the fire. The fresh and sweet shrimps and the crisp and tender potherbs is the best memory of the flavors in Chashan.