A trip to Baoshanerjituanyinghua Park

Or: a trip to the mountains to see cherry blossom…

View of distant mountains with cherry blossom trees in the foreground, at sunset.
Sunset at Baoshanerjituanyinghua Park. Photo: Zhen-Kang.

This weekend I was invited on a road trip, around two hours each way, to see some of the first sakura/cherry blossom of the season. This was my first time exploring the Taiwan mountains, and my first time exploring the countryside around Kaohsiung.

It took half an hour to leave city traffic, before cruising on an elevated expressway in a self-driving Skoda. The autonomous steering was powered by an aftermarket system, something I hadn’t previously known was possible.

It was a great ride, but as we started up the narrower mountain roads, my friend kindly adopted a hands-on driving technique.

A photo taken from the front seat of a car stopped at traffic lights. Signposts above the intersection list local tourist attractions. Mountains are visible in the distance.
The only photo I took during the drive, getting closer to the mountains at this point.

The mountain roads were winding and dramatic, with one-lane bridges curved around the inside of steep ravines. I regret not taking photos, as it was dark by the time we drove back.

Some bridges were painted geometrically in yellow, red, and green. I later learned these mountains are the domain of the Bunun people, one of 16 indigenous groups formally recognized in Taiwan. The bridges are painted in a traditional Bunun pattern.

A food market was operating at the Baoshanerjituanyinghua carpark. The air was smoky, with jovial tunes pumping through the PA system:

Smoky with jovial tunes.

Just uphill from the market, we came to the most popular sakura field. People were picnicking and taking photos:

A gravel path leading to a field of blossoming trees, on the side of a hill. Many people are gathered around the trees.
The air was cool enough for me to wear two layers. Although, as seems to happen whenever the temperature’s below 25-ish, I was the only one in shorts.
Two groups of people underneath blossoming trees, with hazy mountains visible in the distance.
Distant mountains were visible through the haze.
Two shades of cherry blossom in the foreground, with hazy mountains visible in the distance.
I’m told the lighter sakura were introduced from Japan (which colonized Taiwan from 1895 to 1945), while the darker sakura are native to Taiwan.
Light pink cherry blossom trees in the foreground, with people gathering under the trees in the distance. The sky is bright blue, with little cloud.
The sky briefly cleared, brightening the pink flowers. Each tree was numbered—see #39 at hard left.
Dark cherry blossom trees in the foreground, with a golden sky above the mountains in the distance.
From the sakura field, we climbed a lot of steps to this spot, in time for sunset. There was a camping ground about 100 meters to the left. It would be a spectacular place to wake up each morning.
A view across trees to distant hazy mountains.
This was the view to the right, likely also visible from the camping ground.
Steps leading up to a lion statue, about 1 meter tall, atop a 1.5 meter tall gray concrete base, with a gazebo behind it.
Taking a different route back, we passed this golden lion looking out over the valley.
A concrete path winding down the hill, with ferns and cherry blossom on the downward slope to the left.
We followed this path down to the carpark…
Three or four Bunun carvings, approximately 70 centimeters tall, facing the road.
…Which, by now, was starting to empty out. I noticed these carvings I’d missed earlier.
Photo taken from the front seat of a moving car, showing a long and empty two-lane bridge, with illuminated arches in the distance.
On the downhill drive we passed one or two Bunan villages, but it was very dark, and we didn’t see anyone around. This photo was taken on a long bridge at the bottom of the mountain. The shadows of its central arches projected into the sky.
A wide-angle shot of the night market on Fuxing 2nd Road. People are walking or riding scooters along the street, and red lanterns hang overheat.
Back in Kaohsiung, we stopped at this night market on Fuxing 2nd Road…
Photo of a restaurant with bright signage written in Traditional Chinese. Two scooters are parked outside, and a third scooter is being driven past.
…Where, at this vegetarian restaurant, I ate the most delicious food I’ve had so far in Taiwan. (However, the ‘vegan chicken with pickled cabbage’ didn’t look delicious, so I won’t share a photo.) It was a very satisfying end to the day.