Even without its rather unlikely back story, Pamir Park (帕米爾公園) would be one of the more intriguing destinations in the southeast corner of Yangmingshan National Park. Lying just inside the the southernmost tip of the national park, the park lies slap-bang on one of the Taipei region’s premier cycling routes, yet most cyclists ride straight past, probably not giving a second thought to the few, rather decrepit features of the park that are visible from the road. By the way the name ‘park’ is a misnomer. Apart from the statues, stone paths and steps, plus an occasional rest shelter or shrine, the steep, wooded hillside remains a mostly natural attraction.
It’s no accident that Pamir Park is named after the range of mountains that rise to over 7,000 meters in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and the northwestern corner of China. Following the defeat of the Nationalists during the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and the declaration of the new communist China, a group of about four hundred KMT soldiers in the far northwest province of Xinjiang fled the country, passing through Kashmir, Pakistan, India and across southeast Asia to Singapore, before finally arriving by boat in Taiwan. So difficult was the journey – especially the trip over the Pamir mountains – that there were many casualties, and only about 300 soldiers completed the journey. In 1950 a society was established to commemorate their feat, with the splendid name (according to Wikipedia) of Pamir Snow Gnawing Association (帕米爾同志會). In 1961 the society created the Pamir Park and the Pamir Culture Center (in a now rather dilapidated building just below the park).
Even if you’re not a keen cyclist, the park is easy enough to reach by public transport. Minibus M1 from Jiantan MRT station stops right outside the entrance to the park, but since there are only three buses a day (!) it’s not especially convenient. A more practical option is to take the regular bus S18 from Jiantan MRT station, and get off at Fenglin Bridge (楓林橋). Cross the bridge and follow the road beyond uphill. Keep left at the junction and the park is on the right (and left) of the road 25 minutes or so from Fenglin Bridge.
The main part of the park is above the road, to the right, but first, take a walk down the moss-covered steps on the left to the erstwhile Pamir Cultural Center. The dilapidated little building (which was probably originally a private home) was locked on our last visit, but the surrounding gardens are nice, and raised on a rustic brick plinth atop a lichen covered boulder beside the steps is the first of a series of statues in the park. This one is unidentified, but is a bust of what appears to be Chiang Kai-shek.
Walk back up to the road, cross it, and enter the park on the far side, passing a couple of huge natural boulders, covered in moss and lichens of various colors, and inscribed with one of many examples of calligraphy in the park. Most of the artwork sets texts of (or even copies the calligraphy of) the famed calligrapher, scholar and politician, Yu Youren (于右任; 1879-1964), a major figure in the Tongmenghui, the secret society dedicated to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in the years leading up to 1911. At the ripe old age of 71, Yu followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan in 1949, and served in the new government, formed the following year. Yu was especially moved by that epic trip across the Pamir Mountains, and wrote in praise of the soldiers’ incredible feat. A bust of the great man, with a long, flowing beard, tops one of the big natural rock formations just inside the entrance to the park.
Continuing uphill, slippery moss-covered steps climb the lovely wooded hillside, passing several discreetly landscaped features – small pools, artificially diverted streams, and cascades, all now half-covered by the encroaching undergrowth.
A couple more statues and busts stand in the middle of clearings. The one which to a Western visitor looks vaguely like a Chinese Alfred Hitchcock is actually of the leader of the Pamir Snow Gnawing Association. At the highest point of the park, at the back of a large open grassy area with a fine view over distant Taipei city, is a statue of Sun Yat-sen. In front of it, a little lower down the hillside, is a tall obelisk with eight marble tablets, each carved with calligraphic characters originally executed by Yu. By the way, the famous bronze statue at the summit of Yushan was a bust of Yu Youren. It was pushed off the cliffs by vandals in 1996, and stood in the place where now stands the familiar chunk of rock carved with the characters for ‘Yushan Main Peak’ and its height above sea level. Yu Youren is buried in an imposing and very elaborate tomb that climbs up the side of Mount Datun, to the left of the Balaka Highway about a kilometer west of Datun Nature Park (大屯自然公園).
Pamir Park ends with the Sun Yat-sen Statue, but a concrete track continues uphill into the natural forest behind it, giving access to a relatively little-known trail that climbs up onto the ridge above the park. It’s a rough and fairly steep climb; at the top (30-40 minutes) it meets the Shuangxigou Old Trail (雙溪溝古道). Turn right and easier paths head to Mounts Daluntou (大崙頭山) and Dalunwei (大崙尾山). Turn left and a slightly more strenuous trail leads to Mount Wuzhi (五指山) and higher into Yangmingshan National Park.