Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Alishan (Ali Mountain)
Alishan is a popular scenic attraction in Taiwan, but it is also home to the Tsou tribe, which has largely been left out of the development of this major scenic area. Stop off at villages along the main road, and over a cup of home brewed coffee you will hear how they want to preserve the beauty of the mountain cherished by their ancestors, not overdevelop it.
A Jiang in Leye Village is one of an increasing number of Tsou people who have returned from the cities to open bed and breakfasts or grow organic tea in their homeland. Each October, the Tsou celebrate the Life Bean or Fona Festival. In Tsou language, fona refers to the hyacinth bean, which comes from a perennial plant that grows well on barren soil and adverse conditions. For the Tsou, the bean symbolizes life and the continuation of the tribe. The Fona Festival consists of a modified Tsou marriage, representing efforts to continue the tribe, a rather important task as the populations of many tribes number only a few thousand people.
In many areas where indigenous culture can be seen, there is usually a pavilion-like structure built from wood or bamboo where the community elders gather for discussions. Some areas, like Taitung, have street-side displays of traditional indigenous homes, free for tourists to visit. And restaurants in these areas serve indigenous meals, including rice in bamboo stalks, roasted wild boar and millet wine.
To help Taiwan’s indigenous people make a living in their ancestral land and preserve their language and culture, travellers can stay and eat at tribal-owned bed and breakfasts and restaurants. These tend to be well-adorned with indigenous decorations and the owners warmly greet guests.