Yu Yonghe Visits Taiwan
During the Qing Dynasty, there was a scholar from Hangzhou named Yu Yonghe. As Taiwan was newly developed, he wanted to see the place for himself. It so happened that the gunpowder store in Fuzhou City exploded and wiped out their stock of gunpowder. Only Beitou and the area of Tianmu in Northern Taiwan produced sulfur. After arriving in Tainan with his assistant named Wang Yun-sen, Yu Yonghe had to make his way north to mine sulfur.
As it was the typhoon season in Taiwan, it was more reliable to take the land route by oxcart. Wang Yun-sen wanted to take the water route by boat as it was faster, but Yu Yonghe had never seen an oxcart before and wanted to sate his curiosity. So, he decided to take an oxcart. When he arrived at the Jianan Plain, he came across many varieties of fruit that he had never seen before. As the weather was hot, the locals treated him to some watermelon, which he found sweet and juicy.
An undeveloped forested region lay to the north of the Jianan Plain. Yu Yonghe had to cross a total of 96 rivers along his northbound journey. When he arrived at Dajia River, the current was too strong for the cart to pass. The government officials in charge of Gomach suggested ordering the indigenous people into the river to form a human bridge. Yu Yonghe declined as he felt it would endanger the people, who were touched when they learned of his decision. They not only decided to carry Yu Yonghe’s belongings across the river, but they also escorted him safely across the pristine forest.
Just as Yu Yonghe began to worry about turning up late for his meeting with Wang Yun-sen, he saw a really disheveled person in front of him. He turned out to be Wang Yun-sen. He had indeed run into a typhoon that capsized his boat, and was lucky to have been rescued by a passing fisherman. When they arrived somewhere near Chunan, they discovered many species of wild animals unique to Taiwan. It was an eye-opening experience for them.
They finally arrived in Taipei. “Wow! What a huge lake!”Back then, Taipei was still a huge lake. They then made their way up into the Beitou mountains, where they got the fright of their life as they thought they had arrived in hell. There was white smoke everywhere, and the pungent smell of sulfur filled the air. After over five months of refinement, the two were ready to go home with the materials for the gunpowder. After boarding their homebound boat, Yu Yonghe looked back at Taiwan and said,“Though most of Taiwan is still undeveloped, once it has become fully developed, she is sure to become a beautiful and bountiful paradise.”