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Just north of Taihe on the other side of the Shigupan River is the village of Caoling at 800m elevation. It’s actually in Yunlin County, just (barely) outside the Alishan National Scenic Area. It has a population of 857 persons, of whom only three are aborigines.
For many years, Caoling enjoyed a reputation as one of Taiwan’s prime mountain resorts. That reputation took a beating, literally, on September 21, 1999, when a powerful earthquake ripped through central Taiwan, killing about 2400 people. The Caoling area was badly affected. In fact, the whole western side of Caoling Peak collapsed in a huge landslide, killing 29 people. Had the center of Caoling been located 1km to the west, the entire village would have been wiped out - imagine that. Although total disaster was averted, many homes, hotels, and restaurants were severely damaged, and have subsequently been torn down because they were unsafe.
The earthquake severed all roads to Caoling, and for awhile residents had to depend on air drops for food and other supplies. The good news is that visiting no longer requires a helicopter - the roads have been rebuilt, new hotels have risen from the rubble, and the tour buses have returned, though not yet in record-breaking numbers. Nevertheless, the tourist industry is slowly recovering. Caoling is still a beautiful place, and definitely worth a visit.
Bank & Post Office
Caoling is blessed with a post office, a rare find in these mountain villages. Like other post offices in Taiwan, it offers a difficult-to-use ATM which only works with Taiwanese ATM cards, but it’s better than nothing.
If you’ve got your vehicle and you’re in the Taihe area, driving to Caoling would appear to be a piece of cake, as one need only follow Highway 169 north. However, one potentially serious obstacle is the bridge that crosses the Shigupan River, which was severely damaged by a typhoon in 2001. At the time of this writing, the bridge was still open but in precarious condition. Repairs are under way, but there is always the possibility that another typhoon will make things worse, or cause the bridge to collapse totally. Unfortunately, the Shigupan River is one of the most troublesome in Taiwan, the site of frequent floods and landslides.
If this bridge over troubled waters is not open, you can still almost certainly reach Caoling by taking Highway 149甲 from Douliu. During bad typhoons, this road too can sometimes be closed due to landslides, but it is usually soon reopened since it has no major bridges that are likely to collapse.
Caoling can be reached by bus from Douliu. The buses are operated by the Solar Bus Company 日統客運 (Tel: 05-5326167), which has a bus station just to your right as you exit the Douliu train station. Currently, departures from Douliu are at 7:20, 9:50, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00, and travel time is about 1-1/4 hours. However, you should call and confirm these times, as the schedule is subject to change.
Caoling Lodge (Tel: 05-5831121) 草嶺山莊 is first up as you arrive in Caoling from the direction of Douliu. This large comfortable place has doubles for NT$1600.
Holiday Inn 假期大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831397) is not related to the hotel chain with that familiar name. It’s built in motel style and has really beautiful double rooms for NT$2000. It’s directly behind Caoling post office.
Yunglih Hotel 永利飯店 (Tel: 05-5831288, 5831012) is an oldie that was rebuilt totally after the earthquake. It has doubles for NT$1200.
Linjia Hotel 林家山莊 (Tel: 05-5831128) has notably tacky concrete block architecture, though the price of NT$1200 for a double (on weekends) is near rock-bottom in Caoling.
Green Plain Vacation Hotel 綠原渡假村 (Tel: 05-5831153), lives up to its name with an assortment of wooden villas and a spa. Doubles start at NT$1600.
Sing Ming Hsiu Hotel 新明修大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831116), is a huge hotel that has some dormitory rooms with beds at NT$350, doubles NT$1500.
Caoling Hotel 草嶺大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831228) is a large rebuilt place with doubles for NT$2000, twins NT$2500.
Shennong Hotel 神農大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831303) is another new concrete tower with doubles for NT$1500, twins NT$2000.
Shiuling Hotel 秀嶺大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831222) is east of town, too far to walk from the bus stop so it’s only OK for people with their own vehicle. Doubles are NT$2000, twins NT$3000.
Shibi Hotel 石壁大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831238) is in the beautiful but relatively isolated Shibi Slickrock Scenic Area. Doubles are NT$1200, twins NT$1800.
Dongbi Hotel 東碧山莊 (Tel: 05-5831021) is also in the Shibi Slickrock Scenic Area. The wooden cabins are a major attraction. A cabin for two persons is NT$1400, 6-person dorms are NT$500 per person, 8-person dorms are NT$375 per person.
The village of Caoling is perched on the side of a mountain which is also called Caoling. It was the west side of this mountain which collapsed during the 921 earthquake, creating a devastated moonscape some 2.5km in length. Making the best of a bad situation, the locals have been encouraging a sort of “disaster tourism,” bringing tourists to view the 921 Earthquake Landslide Area 九二一地震崩場區 where there is the Dafeishan Viewing Platform 大飛山觀景台. As time goes on, vegetation is gradually taking hold, so the “moonscape” is gradually becoming less and less moonlike. Still, it is amazing to stand here and try to visualize how such an enormous mountain which has been here for a few million years could simply fall down in a few minutes with no warning at all.
One totally bizarre side effect of the mountain’s collapse is that the rubble created an enormous natural dam in the valley below, plugging up the flow of the Qingshui River. Just a few months after the earthquake, the Qingshui River backed up to create a natural reservoir that was named New Caoling Lake 新草嶺潭. The lake became so large that it even backed up into the Alishan and Shigupan Rivers, threatening for awhile to inundate part of Taihe. For a brief two years, this beautiful mountain lake was a major tourist attraction, and the locals even started offering boat tours. Unfortunately, a powerful typhoon in 2001 finally broke down the massive natural dam, causing the lake to drain. Now, it appears to be little more than a giant mudflat on the Qingshui River.
Heading downhill on a path southwest of Caoling village takes one first to a scenic overlook called Youqing Valley 幽情谷. Further downhill is Qimiao Cave 奇妙洞, Qingwa Rock 青蛙石, and Fengchao Rock 蜂巢石. Shuilian Cave 水濂洞 actually contains a small waterfall with a cave just below it, thus the name which means “Water Curtain Cave.” Just below this is the mighty Qingshui River 清水溪.
Qiaobi Xiongfeng Rock Face 峭壁雄風 is slightly southeast of town. Is a large rock face, very steep but possible to climb up and down with the assistance of some ropes which have been set up for the purpose. It’s not really dangerous, though it probably wouldn’t be advisable to climb on it during a rain storm.
About 2km northeast of Caoling village is Penglai Waterfall 蓬萊瀑布 which has a height of 30m. From here you can do a splendid hike. As you face the waterfall, take the trail which is off to your left. This will lead you to the top of the falls. From there you follow the river upstream, walking on sometimes slippery rock (it’s recommended you wear plastic rainboots to do this). You can walk for several kilometers on the polished rock riverbed – this region is known as the Shibi Slickrock Scenic Area 石壁風景區. At the upper end of the creek you’re at about 1200m elevation.
Go to Caoling in Yunlin County, and it’s great place for everyone.
If you go first time, i think you must find one tour guide to accompany you.
Because the place is too large.And so many scenic spots you can’t find by yourself.
You may be lost. I strongly recommend the longest waterfall for you. Its name is 腳龍瀑布<it’s length is 1200 to 1600 meter> Did you ever see the fall in other place?
Go for it.
Sing Ming Hsiu Hotel 新明修大飯店 (Tel: 05-5831116), the owner of hotel is an tour guide,and he is a nice people.He will drive his car to take you to go.<Because some road in this area are too small,if you have no good driving skill,don’t try to adventure.It’s very dangerous to do that.