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Lanyu (Orchid Island)

Orchid Island is an island of 45 sq. km, and is considered a jewel in the waters surrounding Taiwan. Its location is 60km east of Taiwan's southern tip and 80km southeast of Taitung.

This island is home to 4,250 Yamis. One of Taiwan's indigenous tribes, the Yami society is a strongly matriarchal society and often referred to as the northernmost extent of Polynesian ancestry. Their lives are very simple. They live off catches from the sea, complimented with taro and some fruits. Yami boats are built merely with hand tools and natural materials, and are exquisite with delicate carvings and decorations.

Yamis prefer to live as their ancestors lived, which is in traditional homes built underground against hillsides or embankments. The homes come with many rooms for different uses. Open pavilions are built on stilts for scorching summer days.

Driving around the island would only take two hours. As you drive, take note of the unique coastal rock formations, eroded by weather and water. These formations include the Lion Rocks, the Beauty Stone, and the Battleship Fleet. A distinct trait of the island is its wild orchids. Unfortunately, all have been removed and sold.

Springtime is the best period to come to Lanyu. Parades of new boats are launched during the Yamis' festive season and a favorite delicacy, flying fish, leap into their boats.

Taitung offers regular flights to Lanyu Island, but to fly from Taipei and Kaohsiung would be based on demand. There are plenty of accommodations and meals available at Orchid Island Inn that would make visitors feel right at home.

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