As the long, hot summer finally comes to an end and the October air grows cooler, why not take a day off to visit the Gaomei Wetlands, where you can feel the ocean breezes, watch a sunset, visit Wuqi’s old neighborhoods and treat yourself to a seafood feast at a fish market?
> City Government
Gaomei Wetlands: A place of abundant natural diversity
Located along the southern bank of the Dajia River in Qingshui district, the Gaomei Wetlands are a popular attraction in central Taiwan’s coastal area. Many visitors stroll here to enjoy sea views, and the beautiful sunsets always attract countless professional and amateur photographers looking for the perfect image. In fact, this area was a swimming beach before 1976, but stopped drawing visitors after construction of Taichung Port caused it to silt up with sand and mud. Following over 20 years of recovery, it became a home for an abundance of marine species such as fiddler crabs, mudskippers and barnacles, as well as water birds like little egrets, great egrets, sacred ibises, grey herons, and Saunder’s gulls, which arrive during the winter. Besides animals, hundreds of littoral-zone plants can also be seen here. Thus, the Gaomei Wetlands have become a central Taiwan ecological treasure chest that has attracted renewed interest.
To protect its precious wetland ecology, the Academia Sinica, Tunghai University’s Department of Life Science, Taichung City Government Agricultural Bureau, local residents and civilian environmental protection groups spared no effort. As a result, in September, 2004, this 700-hectare area was designated the Gaomei Wildlife Protective Zone, where any sort of destruction or vandalism is prohibited. However, media reports attracted large numbers of tourists, who treated Gaomei as a normal beach due to unclear regulations. This flood of visitors inadvertently tramped a manmade path through the green expanse of sedge, and fiddler crabs and mudskippers were forced to hide, lest they be stepped on or captured by people. If this situation continued and visitors were allowed to destroy the wetlands, species would begin disappearing, water birds would stop coming and, in the end, the environment and scenic beauty would disappear. Thus, if we want to protect the Gaomei Wetlands, we need to follow rules by not entering the wetlands, and instead enjoy beautiful views of the greenery, elegantly-flying birds, the windmills and sunsets from the nearby dike or boardwalk.
Gaomei Botanical Garden: An outdoor eco-classroom
After discovering the wetlands, visitors can also head to the lush green Gaomei Botanical Garden at Gaomei Village. This place was originally built as a farm in 1984 and filled with goats, deer and horses. However, due to an afforestation project promoted by the government, owner Cai Pi-sheng—who loves plants—also decided to dedicate his land to various types of flora. He not only cultivated all kinds of plants on the farm, but also dug a canal for irrigation and the growing of aquatic plants. The beautiful botanical garden we see today is the result of almost three decades of hard work by Cai. The farm was officially transformed into a botanical garden in March, 2001 and became the first ecological park in Taiwan to be jointly organized by the government, academic institutions and non-government organizations. Besides tourists, many schools and research institutes organize research visits here. At first glance, this park may appear somewhat disorganized due to a lack of structures or facilities. But a closer look reveals many native and rare plants, such as the Taiwan water ipomoea, yellow water lily, gorgon fruit, Taiwan quillwort, powder puff tree, Shui-sheh willow, and elephant foot yam. Moreover, some endangered endemic Taiwanese fish like the Paradise Fish can also be seen here. For those who really want to gain more knowledge, the owner’s vivid and interesting guided tour is the perfect solution. Please note that this is only offered to groups and contact the park for more information.
Wuqi Tourism Port: Offering the tastiest seafood
Autumn is the season for craving fresh, delicious fish and crabs, and Wuqi Tourism Port is the ideal location for finding the best seafood. Opened in late 1994, the Wuqi port is the first and largest “fish wholesale center” organized by a fishermen’s association in Taiwan. As soon as fishing boats pull in, all of the freshest seafood is sent to the center for customers to pick from. The port is always crowded because of the demand for fresh, high-quality seafood at the best prices. When they’re finished with their shopping, customers can go to fishermen-run restaurants next to the port and have their just-purchased items cooked up for a meal.
Wuqi’s Old Neighborhood: Filled with history and delicacies
Wuqi is not only about buying seafood, as there are also some amazing historic attractions in its old neighborhoods. As early as the late 1600s, residents of coastal mainland China immigrated to Wuqi. Maritime trade across the Taiwan Strait took off from the mid-1700s and by the early 1800s Wuqi had become a bustling port city. Although modern-day Wuqi is not as prosperous as it once was, surviving temples and structures along Wuqi Road—the main thoroughfare during its old heyday—still serve as reminders of its glory years. Built in 1856, Chaoyuan Temple is the most popular and best-known old temple worshipping the goddess Mazu, but it was damaged by the great earthquake of 1935. Thanks to two restorations in 1955 and 1963, every detail of this structure still appears magnificent. Located opposite Chaoyuan Temple, Zhengwu Temple, built in 1849, worships the Taoist god Xian Tian Shang Di and is classified a Level-Three Historic Site. This temple is not large but has three halls, three large statues and a very precious tablet made in the late 1800s.
When it comes to Wuqi’s most famous products, local salty cakes are the main focus. Almost a century old, Lin Yi Xian Zhai Bakery was the first bakery to sell salty cakes in Taiwan. Original owner Lin Guo learned the techniques for baking these pastries from a Shanghai businessman and flavors have remained unchanged, even after three generations. These delicious cakes, which consist of a soft steamed pastry, savory mushrooms and stewed sliced pork, are a must-buy when visiting Wuqi.
From National Freeway No. 4, exit at the Qingshui interchange and take Provincial Highway No. 17 toward Taichung Port. Turn right onto Gaomei Road, then turn left and continue to the Gaomei Wetlands.
From National Freeway No. 4, exit at the Qingshui interchange and take Provincial Highway No. 17 toward Taichung Port. Turn right onto Beiti Road and continue to Wuqi Tourism Port.
Gaomei Botanical Garden:- 248, Sanmei Rd., Gaodong Village, Qingshui District, Taichung City
- Date ： 2011-11-08
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