Romantic Route 3
The Romantic Route 3 in Taiwan is a 150-kilometre section of Provincial Highway 3, which links 16 Hakka communities in north and central Taiwan. It is a national showcase project for the retention and promotion of Hakka culture and domestic tourism and was initiated by ex-President Tsai Ing-wen, herself a member of a Hakka family. The Romantic Road in Germany was a source of inspiration for the project and provided advice and assistance during the implementation phase.
Originally, the Hakkas lived in North China before migrating to the south. Today, they can be found living in widely scattered locations from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Taiwan to Thailand and Jamaica.
After years of cultural assimilation, the Hakka people are strengthening their individual identity and, in particular, their language. In 2017, the government of Taiwan passed a basic law with the aim of strengthening multiculturism in terms of both language and culture. Hakkas are defined as people with Hakka blood or Hakka origins and those who identify as Hakkas. Thus, around 19.3 percent of the population of Taiwan are Hakkas and many of them live in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Hualien.
Hakkas are considered to be industrious, thrifty and courageous. In the past, they lived in harsh conditions under the protection of the spirits, fled from uprisings and escaped from poverty. After migrations, the Hakkas frequently arrived too late to receive new land for settlement and, therefore, had to hold their own on the fringes of other dominant cultures. In Taiwan, they settled primarily in mountainous areas, such as Beipu.
Romantic Route 3 brings the Hakka culture to life. Beipu, the Hakka capital in the north of Taiwan, is a town with around 10,000 inhabitants, all of whom have Hakka roots, and is traditionally renowned for its authentic culture with local aromas, oriental Oolong beauty tea, Lei cha, dried kakis and cold springs. During the ‘Romantic Route 3 Art Festival’, exhibitions on contemporary art supplement the subject of ‘The Upcoming Past’, life along the old town in the countryside. The Hakka culture is explored individually, not in museums but – in the same way as on a treasure hunt – in narrow lanes, temples or rice fields.
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