Our journey to the Cihaalay Cultural Landscape was written in big characters on our travel agenda. Ranked among the top 100 “Global Green Destinations 2016”, this province covers nearly 1000 hectares and comprises mosaic landscapes of indigenous Amis villages, rice terraces and 100-year-old irrigation channels, orchards, forests, and streams.
Lameru, a doctoral student and secretary of the local tourism organization, was our guide during our stay. As the language of Shakespeare is not yet fully assimilated by the community, Lameru also played the role of translating our interactions with the local community.
The project here was truly inspiring. Lameru and his girlfriend, Abby, are developing a tourism concept that helps farmers increase their income during the slow season of rice harvesting by letting them act as guides for guests. The organization also provides social services such as child-care and elderly care.
The aim is to ensure the transmission of the Amis culture between generations, which is essential to preserve the natural and agricultural heritage of the region. The tours educate guests on the local ancestral farming techniques by taking them onto the rice farm to participate in weeding and harvesting. They follow the irrigation system and learn how to manage and clean it. In season, they can also participate in bamboo shoot picking, delicious!
As the destination becomes more and more popular, Lameru and his team insist that controlling the number of tourists visiting the community is the key. It is out of the question to let mass tourism settle.
By keeping the visiting groups small, interaction with the local community is at the heart of the experience, offering tourists the opportunity to discover the latter through their cooking, dancing and singing. The nights were lively and we could never tire of the local stories and legends, told with such enthusiasm by our Amis friends!
A few tears were poured at our departure, which says a lot about the experience lived in this haven of peace, where time seemed to have stopped.
Allay my Friends! Thank you!