Taroko Village Hotel 太魯閣山月村

Today I will introduce a unique place to stay.  From the perspective of a resident in Hualien, a local hotel must be unique enough to attract even locals to want to pay to stay.  The Taroko Village hotel is one of those unique spots, situated in the Taroko National Park and surrounded by mystic mountains and a forever changing natural scenery of mountain cliffs, clouds and wild life.

Located at Buluowan, which means “echo” in the indigenous Taroko language, the village hotel is made up of a dozen or so wooden huts, which blend harmoniously into the national park surroundings.  It is a small hotel, but with added beds in the larger rooms, it can house as many as a hundred people in total. The dining hall offers traditional Taroko food including millet wine that is popular among indigenous communities.  Often frequented by monkeys and other wild animals, it is also a favorite spot for nature lovers who either just want to relax on a villa porch or enjoy the hiking trails around the area. 

Photo from the Taroko Village facebook

 The area of the national park is the traditional land of the Taroko people 太魯閣族人, one of the sixteen indigenous groups officially recognized and documented in Taiwan.  The Taroko people, who resided in the Central Mountain Range for generations, depended on hunting and gathering for centuries.  They are known to be fierce warriors, but when the Japanese occupied Taiwan between 1985 and 1945, incursions were made into their land, and some tribes were relocated to the outskirts of the mountains, closer to the Han communities for easier control by the government.  Today most of the residents of Xiulin 秀林鄉 and Wanrong 萬榮鄉Townships in Hualien are of Taroko descent. Traditionally, a facial tattoo on a woman would represent her ability to weave, while a tattoo on a man signified success in battle and the ability to behead an opponent. Unfortunately, less than a dozen tattooed seniors remain, and some of their photos are on display near the entrance of the hotel. 
Painting of a traditional Taroko man with facial tatoo (photo from Taroko Village hotel facebook)

Each night the manager Mr. Zheng Minggang 鄭明岡, who calls himself the village chief 村長, organizes a simple cultural performance of Taroko singing and dancing, mostly outdoors unless weather conditions do not permit it.  Performers are all local Taroko children and teenagers, who take turns performing at the village as a part-time job.  Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the indigenous tribes in Taiwan are often economically marginalized as a result of centuries of outside occupation and cultural domination.  Many of the children you will see have at least one parent making a living far away from home, in the major cities around Taiwan.  Mr. Zheng has established a foundation and system of community contributions, treating the performers as a big family, supporting them financially, but also attending to their education and personal family needs.  His daily routes of picking up the children and then taking them home and visiting with their families is an additional duty he maintains aside from managing the hotel.
Young performers who take turns in the nightly cultural event (photo from Taroko Village  hotel facebook)
The Taroko Village Hotel, due to its uniquely beautiful natural surroundings and cultural characteristics, is often fully booked over weekends and long holidays.  If you are unable to reserve an overnight room, there is also the option of having lunch.  The lunch menu offers a variety of sets that will include a fish, meat or vegetarian main dish, and sides of a soup, grain and vegetables.  If traveling in a large group, the hotel will usually prepare a buffet lunch with set price for the group.

Dancing sculptures welcoming visitors

A delicious Taroko meal for lunch. 

Right next to the hotel and a ten minute walk away is the Buluowan Service Station, managed by the National Park administration.  It contains a small museum of Taroko indigenous cultural artifacts and a theater with scheduled films introducing the area.  A number of walking and hiking trails in the area are well maintained for those who prefer a little physical exercise in nature. 

For more information and reservations  http://www.tarokovillage.com/

The Buluowan museum displays the interior of a traditional Taroko tribe home

Nearby walking path



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