Many are the activities worth experiencing in Taiwan on New Years Day, but we think it’s safe to say that few will wind up being as unique, epic and culturally enlightening as a full day tour incorporating a private sunrise flight, two catered feasts, and participation in the Mangayau, the annual rite of passage of Taiwan’s Puyama tribe.
As with most things worth doing, this experience will require a bit of sacrifice on the part of participants, specifically a super-early wake-up call – or, for those looking to party in the new year – a serious test of stamina.
A Private Jet and the First Sunrise of 2019
The experience begins at 4:30 AM at Taipei’s Songshan Airport, where participants will group up for a private chartered flight that will slowly cruise down Taiwan’s eastern coast, maximizing the view as passengers look upon the first sunrise of 2019 from 25,000 feet above sea level. There’ll be catered food and beverages as the flight cruises down the coast, and once the sun is fully up the feast continues on the ground in Taitung as participants partake in a breakfast feast featuring local dishes, fruits, and freshly brewed coffee. After breakfast, guests will be whisked by private van to take part in the Mangayau, a traditional festival of the Puyuma Tribe.
A Tribal Rite of Passage
The Mangayau celebration is the final part of a sequence of tribal festivals and rituals held from December 24 January 2, festivals marking the end of one year and the start of a new and prosperous cycle of seasons. According to the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures Website:
The Mangayau is the single most important Puyuma ritual in the entire year. All youngsters on the verge of manhood participate in the Hunting Ritual. Its origins lie in the days of headhunting when the men would set out to avenge themselves on other tribes by taking the heads of their warriors. Since headhunting has become a thing of the past, today’s Mangayau is purely a hunting festival—but other activities are also included, such as comforting recently bereaved families and coming-of-age ceremonies.
Through the course of the morning festival, participants will be invited to both watch and take part in ritual dances and ceremonies alongside members of the Puyama tribe. Following the Mangayau, guests will be invited to partake in the feast prepared by the tribe to mark the closing of the ceremony. There will be time for reflection, and perhaps a bit of rest, and visitors who are interested in learning something new will be invited to take part in handicraft classes in which skills like traditional weaving and the making of glutinous rice dumplings are passed down from the elders.
Exploring the landscape of Taitung
In the afternoon, the group will head up to Dulan for coffee and art with the good folks who run the Dulan Sugar Factory. Don’t let the industrial sounding name of the place fool you. While the place was a sugarcane processing plant in a previous life, these days it’s one of Eastern Taiwan’s major art hubs, with shops and stalls run by artists from the local Amis tribe serving art, culture and some of the area’s finest coffee. (Trust us, you’ll want the coffee – the adventure is far from over!)
Following a cultural exploration of the sugar factory compound, the group will coast down the coast to check out some of the sweeter spots of the East Coast Scenic Area, includingJialulan, a park known for both picturesque scenery and coastal artwork and Xiaoyehliu, a unique geological area containing fossilized remnants from Taiwan’s prehistoric past. (Read more: Six Spots in Taitung Worth Visiting)
As the day winds down, there’ll be quick forays into Taitung forest park and seashore park before the group reaches the final venue capping off an epic Taitung experience, Tiehua Village, a colorful collection of local shops and eateries set amidst a restored railway station. Visitors can explore the shops and grab a bite to eat at one of the sidewalk restaurants before being brought back to the airport to catch the last plane back to Taipei.
Interested in taking part in this epic adventure? It all happens on January 1, 2019, and seats are definitely limited. Learn more about 2019 First Dawn Flight & New Year’s Day Eastern Beauty Experience now.
Special thanks to Philip Diller at the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures website for insight on the Mangayau festival of the Puyuma Tribe of Taitung.