Stretching over a sizeable expanse of the southern Taiwan hinterland, some 45km east of Kaohsiung, the MAOLIN NATIONAL SCENIC AREA (茂林國家風景區; màolín guójiā fēngjǐngqū) offers an enticing combination of mountain scenery and aboriginal cultures. Sadly, the area was badly affected by Typhoon Morakot, which struck the region in 2009 (35 people were killed in Liugui alone), and some of it may remain off limits to visitors; check wwww.maolin-nsa.gov.tw for information. The Rukai aboriginal community was especially hard hit; many settlements have now been relocated to safer areas. Virtually every concrete bridge in the area was destroyed and the famous Duona Hot Springs have been lost, buried by mounds of debris. White-water rafting at Laonong and Baolai has ceased indefinitely; note also that paragliding from Saijia Aviation Park is now only permitted through associations approved by Pingdong county authorities. The Scenic Area headquarters and visitor centre at Maolin Village, as well as the visitor centre at Liugui, were both washed away by Morakot. A new visitor centre is planned near Maolin Village (wwww.maolin-nsa.gov.tw). The seldom-visited Rukai village of Wutai was spared destruction and remains one of the highlights of the south.

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