Smangus (司馬庫斯) is one of Taiwan’s most remote aboriginal villages. So far remote, that it has developed for itself an air of mystery and has become a popular, if not difficult to get to, destination.
I recently took a short trip there to help Taiwan Adventures develop a future tour to the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much time to explore the village and surrounding sights as we would have liked, but I will return soon with a better report. Check the website or facebook page for more information about organized trips… read on for more photos and information.
Smangus is a remote Atayal village set in Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County, Taiwan. It is so remote, that it only received electricity in 1979. So remote, that the first road there wasn’t completed until 1995! So remote, that it does in fact have a completely different feel to any remote village I’ve ever been in in Taiwan.
It feels different because unlike many other mountains villages, the residents all seem busy and happy. Smangus is an experiment in communal living. They all share the work and all get paid the same wages. A small school has recently been built in the village, and the children get free tuition and a small stipend for attending. We noticed a morning meeting that seemed to be about the day’s work but couldn’t understand because it was in the local Atayal language. We also noticed happy villagers heading off to do their work a few minutes later, many heading down the hiking path to collect plants in the forest.
One big attraction for going to Smangus is the 12km round trip hike to a grove of ancient trees. The oldest of these trees is a 2,700 year old giant red cypress. The hike is not too difficult and takes about 5 hours return, with some time to admire the old trees and the beautiful forest.
Unfortunately for us on this trip, Stu had hurt his leg in a motorcycle accident a few days before, so we only made it to the bamboo grove. Fortunately for us, the bamboo grove is quite a sight, and we found ourselves admiring this wonderful natural oasis for some time. The grove is only about 1-1.5k from the village and can be visited in an hour.
There is no public bus to Smangus, so the only way to get there is by your own transportation, or an organized tour. Taiwan Adventures will be organizing group tours periodically, but is also available for private groups.
For more information, check out David on Formosa