Allen, [Herbert]. "On a journey through Formosa from Tamsui to Taiwanfu." The Geographical Magazine 4 (1877): 135-6.


On a Journey Through Formosa from Tamsui to Taiwanfu


[P. 135] At the invitation of Mr. Mackay, of the Canadian Presbyterian Mission in the north, and Mr. Ritchie of the English Presbyterians in South Formosa, to accompany them on a tour to their respective stations, Mr. Allen started in November, 1875, from the old Dutch fort at Tamsui. Crossing the harbour near its entrance, and skirting the western side of the Kuanyui Hill, 1720 feet above the sea, they gained the table-land which stretches some 30 miles down from the coast. The plain was covered with paddy and sugar-cane crops, and heavy four-wheeled carts, generally drawn by a buffalo, with two of the ordinary black cattle on each side were constantly met with. About 8 miles from Tekcham, which is the capital of Tamsui, they reached Table Hill, or Windmill Slope, the termination of the plateau, and got a good view of the sea to the westward, and, descending, crossed the river in a flat-bottomed boat. Passing through the large towns of Heongsan and Tiongkong, and leaving the large town of Oulan on their right, they came to Suikang, which is the last of Mr. Mackay’s stations, where they were warmly received by the catachist of the chapel. Most of the converts in Suikang are Pepohuans, are found generally established in small colonies between their Chinese conquerors and their brothers, the wild aborigines of the interior, and are a simple minded and quiet people. Leaving Suikang, and making a midday halt at Tunglowan, they travelled up a long and very pretty valley, then over a small range of hills, and next came to the colony of Laisia, the population of which is entirely Christian and numbers about 200. Passing through the village of Suitiam, and travelling along the base of the hills, over a plain some miles wide, strewed with rocks and boulders, Mr. Allen and his companions arrived at Toasia. Proceeding S.S.E. for 13 miles over a fertile plain, cultivated with sugarcane, tobacco, ground nut, sweet potatoes, &c., they gradually approached the range of hills which lay to their left. At the head of the gorge due east of the district town of Changhua, they were met by a party of about forty Pepohuans who were to act as their body-guard through the mountains. The gorge wound a good deal, with a thick jungle on both sides, which the Pepohuans occasionally set on fire. As they proceeded the pass became narrower, until they reached a point where a big camphor tree almost blocked it up, the width being only five feet. Mr. Allen described the scenery as magnificent, the mountains rising 2000 or 3000 feet, almost perpendicularly on each side, were covered with camphor and other forest trees. One or two veins of coal were noticed on the rocks, and a stratum of conglomerate pebbles in the clay, 600 feet above their heads. At the end of the gorge the ranges of hills opened out, and although they occasionally had to cut their way through the jungle, travelling was much easier. A small edible, acid fruit, resembling a raspberry was found here, as well as a sweet smelling fern, which the natives called Tanpa; but no savages were met with. The fertile, and well-watered plain of Posia, with a population of 5000, was next reached, and here they remained five days. Mr. Allen was shown an electro-plated silver cup, about two inches long, which an old man assured him had been an heirloom in his family for 200 years; but from some marks on it, he believed it to be an old Dutch matchbox.

Resuming their journey through another pass to the south they came to the beautiful lake of Tsui-sia-hia, or lake of the Water Savages, a distinct tribe who live on its banks. They are a degraded race, and are employed as slaves by the Chinese; they tattoo their faces in bands across the nose, are tall, and would be well-proportioned but for a pernicious habit they indulge in of tying cloths tightly round their waists, which deforms them very much. Travelling in a south-westerly direction over the hills, their next halting-place was Chipchip, which is entirely Chinese, and is the headquarters of a mandarin. A number of villages were passed, one of which, Limkepo, is said to have a population of 3000. The valley through which they travelled wound about a good deal, and it was dusk before Toulak, their next resting-place was reached. The main road was struck at Tapona, and passing a few villages, the largest of which was Tamao, they arrived at the Mission Chapel at Kajee, and being within two days’ journey of Taiwanfu, Mr. Allen bade adieu to his [p. 136] companions, and on the nineteenth day, after a journey of 220 miles, reached Taiwanfu.

A short discussion followed the reading of this paper.