Twenty-five kilometres east of Kaohsiung is SANDIMEN (三地門; sāndìmén), an aboriginal community nestled where the western plains meet the mountains, and the heartland of the Paiwan tribe. Sandimen is also the gateway to the spectacular 19km stretch of Provincial Highway 24 leading to the remote Rukai village of WUTAI (霧台村; wùtái cūn). The area was devastated by Typhoon Morakot, and eight smaller communities beyond Wutai were evacuated; only Shenshan and Wutai itself remain. However it’s well worth the effort to get here (a permit is no longer required) – the road winds through some truly amazing scenery, with steep roadside drop-offs framed by rushing waterfalls at almost every turn. And Wutai Village is a real treat, with Taiwan’s most undiluted Rukai culture, stone-paved lanes and several friendly homestays.

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