If you aren’t up in the mountains, snow is non-existent in Taiwan. So when the Tung flowers bloom, and the trees look like they have a smattering of downy snow, people flock in droves to catch the sights.
In 2002, the council of Hakka affairs formalized this into the Tung blossom festival. This annual event runs every year during the end of spring, around April – March.
The Hakka are a group of people from southern China who came and settled in Taiwan. They are located mostly in north-west Taiwan (Miaoli and Hsinchu counties). In days past, they used the Tung tree extensively for Tung oil, wood, and food. During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895 – 1945), many Tung trees were planted in the hills of Miaoli county, and now they’ve spread all over the hills creating a tourist opportunity for Taiwan.
While the Tung tree can be found all over Taiwan, most of them are in Miaoli county. When they bloom, from far off, it looks something like this:
First seeing this sight, I was mildly concerned – I’d come to Taiwan to avoid the snow, but it was all for naught when I discovered that this snowy looking scene was actually flowers. I can see how Taiwanese love it though, having rarely been exposed to snow.
In areas with thick Tung concentration, the falling blooms create a snowfall like environment and can blanket the trails in white:
It makes for a splendid walk through the forest. The blossoms also generate a subtle fresh smell that will enchant any nature lover.
Walking through these trails gives an up close view of the actual flowers:
They are pretty little things with yellow buds that fade into a deeper red as the blossom ages:
As people walk the trails, they like to stop and pick up fallen blossoms that are still in good shape. I wasn’t sure ecxactly why (they wouldn’t last too long fallen from the tree) until I saw this:
Once spotted, this testament to cuteness and love continued to catch my eye – there were many of them – seems like the thing to do when a couple walks through these trails.
The Hakka Tung blossom festival is a great reason to get outside and enjoy the freshness of spring. In addition to the tranquility and natural beauty offered by the trails, this festival also brings to life Hakka culture and you can immerse yourself in the food and handicrafts of the Hakka people. While there are sptos and trails all over Miaoli, Hsinchu, Taipei and Taichung, we visited Sanyi, in Miaoli county. The trees were full of blossoms, and made for a great outing.
Here’s where Sanyi is, and just asking locals “Tong hua zai nali?” (Where are the Tung flowers?) will get you directions.