Exploring Hakka Culture in Miaoli
By Karen Sims
Translated by Anna Yang
Despite being a major influence in Taiwan, the Hakka language and culture faces a possible decline as Hakka-speaking villages dwindle and disappear. However, Miaoli county has preserved this rich culture by converting old structures into educational tourist attractions for local and foreign visitors.
Liudong Community Hakka Compound
24, Liudong Community Neighborhood 3, Toufen Township, Miaoli County
Liudong Community Hakka Compound was a pig farm during the Japanese colonial era, but has been renovated into a tourist center complete with a self-guided tour, Hakka delicacies and souvenirs. Constructed along the Liudong River, the compound contains a small pond and gazebo next to a house flanked by five-leaf pines. The house retains the pillars and basic structure of the original farmhouse, but the walls have been reconstructed with a traditional Hakka-style thatching of clay with straw, followed by a lime-wash finish. Look for the purple rock-like speaker inside and use the "Cool Rural Villages" (農村好讚) app to scan the QR code next to it and learn about the building's construction and Hakka culture. Refreshments inside include five-leaf pine juice, tea and traditional Hakka orange preserves.
Xiao Tongluo Quan Hakka Community
To book tours, call 0932-527-418
(parking at Shan Wan Coffee bus stop: 9-19, Tongjing Village Neighborhood 1, Sanwan Township, Miaoli County)
Another revamped tourist site in Miaoli is the Xiao Tongluo Quan Hakka Community Center in Sanwan township. When many of the young people left the village, the older community members gathered to brainstorm ways to revitalize the area. The community preserved its traditional brick houses and converted one of them into a small tourist center where they make "fa gao," a type of steamed traditional cake, with Hakka-style preserved oranges. Besides "fa gao" and preserved orange pieces, there are purses, clothing and other souvenirs with traditional Hakka floral patterns for sale.
Golden Flower Tea Oil Production Co., Ltd.
18-3, Shima Store, Yonghe Village Neighborhood 3, Sanwan Township, Miaoli County
For larger groups, Miaoli offers a tour of the Golden Flower Tea Oil Factory, which produces extra-virgin camellia tenuifolia, camellia oleifera and tea seed oils sold in quantities of 50 to 1800 milliliters. While tea seed and camellia oleifera oils are suitable for cooking, camellia tenuifolia is mainly used for beauty and health purposes and the gift shop has a wide variety of cooking, cleaning, and beauty products for sale. In addition to learning how this healthy, high-quality oil is extracted and produced, the factory also offers a generous buffet that demonstrates how these cooking oils can be used as a healthier alternative in hearty Hakka cuisine.