Zhushan (竹山), also known as Bamboo Mountain, is a small town sandwiched between Nantou (南投) and Yunlin Counties (雲林). As the Central Mountain (中央山脈) stands in the middle of Taiwan, blocking the communication between east and west, the development in Taiwan was limited to the west around 130-plus years ago. Zhushan played an important role as a transfer station on the west coast and was the biggest town for processing and producing bamboo products, earning it the nickname of “the biggest town in front of Central Mountain”. (Read more: Back to Their Roots: Sustainable Tourism in Taiwan’s “Bamboo Mountain” Town)
Nowadays, the decline of the bamboo industry did not hit Zhushan hard. On the contrary, local businesses and shops are making good use of their historic background, and are building an eco-friendly travel industry in the town. This is how to spend a day exploring Zhushan:
Bamboo Straws and Bamboo Toothbrushes: A Sustainable Experience
The day trip starts at Yuantai Bamboo Workshop (元泰竹藝社), a local brand dedicated to sustainable travel with their reusable products such as bamboo cups, straws and tooth brushes. Here, you can make a bamboo straw by yourself, and customize a bamboo toothbrush by carving your name (or any word you like) into the brush. (Read more: Why Yuantai Bamboo Workshop in Nantou Should be Your Next Stop If You Care About the Earth)
After the DIY workshop, you will spend your lunchtime on the second floor of the former Taixi Bus Station. The old bus station has been remodeled into a stylish restaurant decorated with bamboo art. Must-try dishes include chicken soup with bamboo shoots, and dragon fruit ice (though the latter is only available during the summer months).
Getting to Know Central Taiwan More: Tea Industry and A Earthquake Memory
In the afternoon, the tour will take you to Yoshan Tea Culture House, where you will learn the background of Taiwan’s tea industry, and sip on the best tea produced in Nantou. (You might also like: Sun Moon Lake: A Tea Lover’s Paradise)
Before heading back to Taipei, you will stop at 921 Earthquake Museum. 21 years ago, a violent 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan on September 21st and Nantou was the biggest stricken region. The museum was re-constructed from an elementary school that was damaged by the earthquake, where you can see the remains of the classrooms and playground that commemorate those who were lost during the largest natural disaster in a century in Taiwan.
What should you bring?
A pair of comfortable walking shoes would be recommended. We also encourage you to bring your own water bottle to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.