Cate Blanchett in Sun Moon Lake Taiwan for SK-II TV ad

Cate Blanchett is a woman empowered, she seemingly has an amazing life as an actress, business woman and fashion icon. She has been the face of Japanese beauty brand SK-II for 9 years now so it seems like a bit of a surprise that the Oscar winning actress has yet to front a television commercial for the brand. But all that changed over the weekend, her first TV ad for SK-II aired on Australian television.

“We shot the commercial in the Hsitou Bamboo Forest in Taiwan,” says Blanchett about the commercial, shot my famed photographer Rankin. “It was one of the most extraordinary places on earth I have ever been in. The light was so delicate, I was in a beautiful white dress, against all the green – it was just exquisite.”

In the ad Blanchett shares the history behind the brand and the journey of discovery in a Sake brewery 30 years ago to find SK-II’s “miracle” ingredient Pitera. Glowingly smooth and perfect skin is something I think we all crave and SK-II is one of those brands who I think does an amazing job in helping you achieve it over time.

I don’t often gush about skin care products here, but I am in love with the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask. It gave me smooth skin and visibly smaller pores after the first use and their secret is Pitera, a yeast ferment filtrate of sake that contains vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids. According to SK-II they all work together to help allow the skin surface’s natural renewal process to function at its prime – and something that Blanchett credits as the product that transforms her skin to crystal clear clarity within 14 days. Though I’m guessing it helps that she has had seemingly perfect skin for years…

 
“When I first discovered Facial Treatment Essence, the effect that it had on my skin was quite remarkable,” Blanchett says of her experience with SK-II. “Its condition improved within a few weeks because I used it regularly, which is the key to SK-II – the benefits of using it consistently boosts the results. Within a couple of weeks, the tone of my skin was incredibly even, incredibly hydrated.”


Cate Blanchett in her role as global brand ambassador for prestige skincare brand SK-II appears in her first television commercial (TVC) for the brand The TVC was shot in the Hsitou Bamboo Forest in Taiwan.

VIDEO: Cate Blanchett’s first SK-II commercial, introducing the miracle of Pitera

VIDEO: Behind the scenes of Cate Blanchett’s first SK-II commercial and the SK-II  


 
Hsitou Forest

Just two hours south of Taichung's sprawling metropolis lies a beautiful forest area known as Hsitou. Well-known among the locals but often snubbed by the ex-pats, it actually makes for a pleasant excursion. It also offers a glimpse into Taiwan's efforts in environmental conservation.

Provided you can make it on a weekday, you'll enjoy peaceful strolls along quiet mountain trails. Avoid weekends; Sundays in particular, become rather re nau, hardly the best environment to appreciate nature.
Hsitou actually comprises only a small part of a larger entity: the National Taiwan University Experimental Forest. The Experimental Forest was established ninety-seven years ago, when Taiwan was still under Japanese occupation. Its major objectives are research, teaching, conservation and recreation.

Hsitou was established as a recreation area in 1970 and since then, the number of annual visitors has averaged about one million.
There are currently over 150 projects in progress, including several long-experiments. The area is divided into six tracts, each with its own classrooms and student dormitories. The forest provides a natural, open-air laboratory for forestry students to conduct field practice.

Originally, the Experimental Forest was funded through the sale of timber products. Subsequently, focus shifted from timber production to forest protection, and funding went through an evolution as well. As logging decreased and tourism increased, revenue became increasingly generated by visitors.

In recent years, as the Experimental Forest grew in importance as a teaching and research center, it was decided that economic self-sufficiency was not a practical goal and in 1993, the area's operating expenses became included in the government budget. This was good news for forest management officials who no longer had to deal with financial shortages and could tend to the business of running a forest.
Forest operations involve a surprising amount of work. The first step toward a healthy and growing forest is regeneration. To this effect, 700,000 seedlings are raised each year in the forest nurseries.

Due to the cessation of logging in recent years, there has been a corresponding reduction in reforestation; now the majority of replacement planting is in cases of damage from human destruction and natural causes.
To address the problem of human destruction, management officials attend village meetings to discourage the illegal cultivation of forest property. To back up their words, they can legally reclaim and reforest improperly appropriated land. The main criminal element from the natural world are squirrels. Squirrel damage has long been a problem in the experimental forests. When an area comes under particular attack, measures are then taken, normally in the form of poisoned bait. Recently, planting squirrel-resistant hardwood trees and growing squirrel food plants has proven to be an effective alternative method.

Geographically, the Experimental Forest encompasses an area 37 kilometers long and 6 to 14 kilometers wide and stretches roughly from Sun Moon Lake to Jade Mountain, Taiwan's highest peak. It ranges in altitude from 220 to 3,952 meters above sea level, due to the inclusion of Jade Mountain within its boundaries. Due to its topographical range, it represents the four climatic zones in Taiwan: tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and frigid, making it a particularly convenient site for conducting research and field practice.

Hsitou is very green for a good reason: it rains a lot. On the average, nearly a meter of rain per year falls on Hsitou's forests, making an umbrella a useful accessory to bring along.
Within the Experimental Forest, there are a large variety of mammals you would not expect to see in Taiwan such as the Formosan black bear, Formosan wild boar and leopard cat. Don't expect to see them at Hsitou, however; they are residing in the more remote regions of the area.

Hsitou is known for its forests, over 30 percent of which are man-made. There are over 40 species of trees represented, with the first grove having been established in 1908. The more common varieties of trees include conifers, bamboo, ginkgo and numerous hardwood species. There are also many introduced species such as eucalyptus and acacia.
Hsitou has a few interesting sites to investigate such as its longest-residing inhabitant, a red cypress estimated at 2,800 years old. The bamboo plantation, with over 50 different species, is also worth a visit as is the picturesque, terraced seedling nursery. Another Hsitou landmark is the arched bamboo bridge at the University Pond. But the most rewarding activity to be had is simply absorbing the beauty and serenity, two things which are not always easy to find in Taichung.

For residents of central Taiwan, Hsitou makes an easy day-trip. For those who want to make a longer getaway, there is plenty of accommodation during the week.
The most inexpensive option will run about NT1,000 for a comfortable double. Restaurants are notoriously expensive here, so if you are on a budget, bring your own snacks.
There are direct buses to Hsitou from Taichung and Chiayi; from other locations, you can get to Hsitou via Chushan, the town at the base of the mountain. Tickets are about NT$100 one way for the 2 hour bus ride from Taichung.


Highlights of Hsitou

The Hsitou Forest Recreational Area's forests contain Ginkgo, Giant Bamboo and Red Cedar just to name a few. There are even huge Cypress trees there some of which are called shen mu or 'Divine Trees' because their age is upwards of 1800 years. One shen mu in particular is almost 13 meters in circumference and more than 40 meters tall!
 

Hikers along the trails will notice clear streams, massive ferns and adequate direction signs to keep from getting lost. Among the more interesting of the signs is "Giant Rock". Giant Rock is exactly what it claims to be - a huge rock. During the 921 earthquake the boulder broke away from the mountain and rolled partially down the mountain.

To get a different perspective, there is a 22 meter high suspended walkway spanning about 180 meters of forest. Orchids, ferns and other plants and animals that dwell in the forest canopy can be seen from the walkway.

Other activities include mountain climbing and special events coordinated by the Youth Activity Center. For those that spend the night, there is also a sunrise tour available.

Getting There

Depending on where you are coming from, take National Hwy.3 north or south to Provincial Highway 3. The off ramp will put you at Jishan Rd. (集山路), turn right. Turn left at Dongxiang Rd. (東鄉路) to get onto County Route 151 and follow signs for either Lugu Township or the Department of Tourism sign for Hsitou Forest Recreation Area.

 


 

Birding Locations - Hsitou Forest Reserve, Nantou County

Hsitou Forest Reserve is situated in West-Central Taiwan's Nantou County. Hsitou is a national forest reserve at an altitude of 1150m in Taiwan's central mountains.

Hsitou is recognized as one of Taiwan's top birding areas. Hsitou is a very popular weekend get away spot so the best time for birding is during the week or very early morning on weekends. Hsitou is easy to access and can be done as an easy day trip or even a half day trip.

Hsitou is a good spot for Taiwan's low and mid altitude birds. The endemic Steere's Liocichla, White-eared Sibia, and Taiwan Yuhina are common all year round. Hsitou is also one of the better sites for looking for the Taiwan Tit. The endemic Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Taiwan Barbet, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler, Taiwan Barwing (very common in winter with smaller numbers present all year), Rusty Laughingthrush, and Taiwan Bush Warbler (look in the grassy area behind the hotel) can also be seen. There are Taiwan Partridge and Swinhoe's Pheasant in the area but they are not easy to locate.

Other birds to look out for are Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Pygmy Wren Babbler, White-browed Shortwing, Vivid Niltava, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Eurasian Jay, White-tailed Robin, White-bellied Green Pigeon, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Collared Owlet, Large Hawk Cuckoo (summer), Ferruginous Flycatcher (summer and rare resident), Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Eurasian Nuthatch (mostly winter), Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler, Grey Treepie, Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-faced Warbler, Island Thrush (mostly winter), Black Bulbul, Black-throated Tit, Grey-chinned Minivet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Little Forktail and Large-billed Crow. In winter some of the high mountain endemics can be seen in Hsitou.

About 20km by road from Hsitou there is the Shanlinshi National Forrest Reserve which is part of Hsitou and well worth a visit as it is slightly higher at 1600m.

There are a number of hotels in and around Hsitou. Hsitou is best visited on week days or early over weekends. Open 7:00-17:00. If staying in Hsitou the forest can be accessed anytime. There is a restaurant and food kiosk inside Hsitou and a number of shops outside the entrance.

By car Hsitou is about 50km south of Taichung and easy to access from Taiwan's No.3 National Highway. Exit at Jhushan-Mingjian and follow the Lugu-Hsitou signs to Hsitou. Lugu is about 10km before Hsitou. Lugu's Oolong tea is amongst the finest of all Oolong teas and a great stop for tea lovers.

By bus from Taichung, take the Lienyin Express Bus bound for Hsitou and Shanlingshi. Alternatively, at Jhushan, take the Yuanlin Express Bus bound for Hsitou and Lugu. At Hsitou, there is a bus running between Shanlinshi and Hsitou.

Jhushan is easily accessed by taking the train or bus to Douliou or Linnei and then taking a bus (Taisi Bus Company) to Jhushan from the back of the Douliou station or along the main road in Linnei heading in the direction of Jhushan.

竹林中的度假野趣 聽著自然的脈動入眠

 

 

 


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金球獎影后凱特布蘭琪(Cate Blanchett)擔任日本保養品牌SKII全球代言人,3個月前低調到南投拍廣告,30秒電視廣告日前在澳洲首播。她穿斜肩白色洋裝穿梭在溪頭風景區的鹿谷孟宗竹林古戰場,彷彿她演的《魔戒》「精靈女王」,她難忘地說:「那是我去過最特別的地方。」 Cate Blanchett凱特布蘭琪先前來台灣南投下榻涵碧樓,身為SK-II代言人的Cate Blanchett凱特布蘭琪與國際攝影團隊前來台灣溪頭竹林拍攝2011最新SK-II電視廣告。擔任SK-II代言人的Cate Blanchett凱特布蘭琪身穿白色洋裝小禮服,白裡透紅晶瑩好膚質絕對居功於SK-II的Pitera成分。

布蘭琪為SKII代言長達9年,今年第一次拍電視廣告。她7月帶著2個兒子悄悄來寶島,由《火線交錯》導演阿利安卓岡札雷茲掌鏡,在日月潭水秀橋、鹿谷孟宗竹林古戰場取景,前後待了7天6夜。
 

網友讚有《魔戒》FU

她表示:「我們在台灣的溪頭竹林拍攝,那是我去過最特別的地方之一,我穿著白洋裝與綠色竹林相輝映,美極了。」 際攝影師Rankin勘景時穿梭於台灣溪頭竹林,尋找那份光線穿透層層竹葉,灑落在Cate Blanchett凱特布蘭琪純白身影,漫步踏步過溪頭竹林的石階步道,一段日本老師傅手揉米飯蒸氣裊裊畫面,再帶到SK-II青春露由Pitera清酒酵母發酵,Cate Blanchett凱特布蘭琪滿意微笑著…。這支最新SK-II廣告在澳洲10月開始播映,如果接下來這支廣告轉到歐洲美國等地播映,台灣溪頭竹林 Taiwan Hsitou Bamboo Forest 肯定火速成為旅遊美景關鍵字搜尋榜首!

廣告片段被上傳YouTube. com,以英文介紹拍攝地是台灣竹林,引發網友熱烈討論。有人稱讚溪頭好美,「有《魔戒》的迷幻FU」。台灣SKII公關表示,該品牌在全球各地的行銷策略不同,台灣播出的SKII廣告以大中華地區代言人為主,不確定凱特布蘭琪版廣告是否會在台播出。 



台灣溪頭竹林 Taiwan Hsitou Bamboo Forest

漫步在綠竹隧道之中,微風吹過竹林,隨之而來的是一陣沙沙作響及輕拂臉頰的涼爽,停下腳步,靜靜聆聽竹林裡的聲音,爾而,還有幾聲清脆的鳥鳴叢林間傳來,一種屬於自然的脈動,就在鹿谷的山林間傳遞出來。

美麗的竹林景致,是鹿谷溪頭地區最具代表性的自然景觀之一,沿著往溪頭方向的產業道路上,都可見道路兩旁綠意盎然的竹林隨風搖曳,綿延數百公尺甚至數公里的筆直孟宗竹,頂部尾端延續連成幽美的綠色隧道,尤其是午後時分,陽光透過竹葉如流金般地灑落一地,漫步林間,只覺清風送爽、滿面愜意,令人心曠神怡。

鹿谷鄉內竹林密佈,和穿過其間的產業道路或鄉間小徑形成清幽、靜謐的竹林隧道,尤其是投50、投55與大鞍附近的產業道路,都可以輕易的發現綠林成蔭、意境悠遠的竹林隧道,無論是開車經過、或是漫步賞遊,無論是早晨旭日東升、或是午後的迷霧飄渺,都可以感受那種瞬息萬變的竹林景致。

竹子是一種常見的植物,在鄉村、野外都可以看見竹林散佈,台灣常見的竹子有孟宗竹、桂竹、麻竹、綠竹等等,其中以孟宗竹和麻竹佔多數,而鹿谷鄉是台灣孟宗竹的發源地,目前鹿谷孟宗竹林地面積約有5百多公頃,佔全台二分之一以上,是鹿谷鄉重要的經濟作物之一。

值得一提的是,由於竹子種類多、面積大,因此四季均能出產不同之竹筍,如麻竹筍、桂竹筍、冬筍等等,不但是竹山重要的特產,用竹筍做成的筍乾、筍絲、醬筍等等,還有各種竹筍大餐,更是來竹山不可以錯過的美食。
 

發現溪頭的生態奧妙 探索森林

你知道各種生物在活動時的習性與視野嗎?透過對於大自然的探索,會讓我們對於自然生態有更深刻體會及有趣的發現。位於溪頭森林遊樂區、青年活動中心旁的「探索森林區」,是一座結合生態性、教育性、育樂性及發展性的自然園區,透過親身體驗、與大自然的接觸,讓遊客享受那種沒有距離、最真實的原始感動。

探索森林區占地數十公頃,園區內動植物生態豐富,加上許多體驗的設施以及生物特性的標示牌,還有各種生物,如山羌、鼬獾、條紋松鼠、白面鼯鼠等動物足跡的陶版設計,讓遊客在探索的過程中,可以更認識溪頭的生態特色。

除了呈現了溪頭特有生態特色,還會隨季節生物資源的改變,附加不同的遊戲主題,如野蠻遊戲、搜尋足跡、綜觀森林、傾聽自然、搜尋寶藏、森林之王、山神之屋、回歸自然等,讓遊客接受各項不同的體能、耐力和智力的大考驗,啟發旅友對大自然的尊重與感動。

森林探索區入口處一隻蜘蛛造型的意象牌樓,是提醒遊客要學習蜘蛛手腳並用的方式,才能完成八個不同主題的森林探索之旅;探索之旅全程需約四十分鐘,遊客可透過各項不同嘗試,除了體能、耐力和智力的考驗外,同時啟發對大自然的尊重與感動。
 

全新的「探索森林」園,有著精彩的自然景觀,非常適合親子一起來趟「探索森林趣」,寓教於樂、親近自然,都是不錯的選擇。
 

山谷、峭壁、絕景 梯子吊橋

 å±±è°·ä¸­çš„霧氣緩緩升起,漸漸的隱沒橫跨峭壁兩側的梯子吊橋,隱約可見遠處壯闊山勢、低頭則是匆匆水聲,偶而,還可見盤旋其上大冠鷲嘹亮的叫聲,這裡,就是兼具壯闊氣勢與幽柔之美的「竹山天梯」。

座落於南投縣竹山鎮大鞍里的竹山天梯,是前往「太極峽谷」風景區的必經之處,加上地勢險峻、兩旁盡是奇巖峭壁,因此有「世界二十大奇景」的美稱,在當地就流傳著一句台語俗諺:「一崁到肚臍、二崁到目眉」,巧妙的一語道盡當地的道路難行的態勢。

太極峽谷曾經是南投縣內最著名景點,縱深達百米,因此往來交通十分不便,因此南投縣政府聘請日本技師興建全台首見、世界唯二的「階梯式索橋」。橋樑橫跨梯子嶺溪,全長136公尺,兩端落差達20公尺,共208階,吊橋下方就是知名的太極峽谷,因為二十年前一場嚴重的山崩災難,使得這裡一直被封閉禁止進入,目前南投縣政府特別經過規劃、安全設施也相當完善,讓遊客再度體驗太極峽谷之美。

遊客可從竹山市區進入投49線往大鞍竹海風景區的方向前往,抵達天梯步道入口之後,遊客必須徒步前往,約步行40~50分鐘可以抵達天梯,沿途竹子茂密、景色宜人,走在重山、萬嶺之間,涼風吹拂、鳥兒啼鵑,彷彿置身於事外幽境一般,踩著輕快腳步慢慢前往,可以說是一條清新的登山步道。不過由於路途較陡峭,因此不建議膝蓋有舊疾或是體力較差的遊客前往。

穿過茂密的竹林與步道後,就可以抵達天梯,站在梯子吊橋橋頭上,放眼望去及盡是裸岩峭壁、瀑布奔流的風光,可媲美花蓮太魯閣美景,因此有有「西部太魯閣」的美稱,而連接兩岸的梯子吊橋,在半空中形成一道美麗的弧線,走在橋上,有種置身於天地之間的浩然氣勢、騰雲駕霧的感覺,視野景觀相當獨特。值得一提的是,天梯橋下有一處「梯子嶺土地公」,也常吸引遊客到此地祈福,也是梯子吊橋的特殊景點之一。

不過仍要再次提醒遊客,由投49線轉投49-1線之後,進入產業道路,路況較狹窄,午後山區容易起霧,上山遊客務必小心駕駛;此外,美麗的景致仍須大家共同維護,請勿將攜帶的垃圾、包裝盒或保特瓶隨手丟棄,以免破壞景觀。巧奪天工、氣勢萬千的竹山天梯,有「世界二十奇景」之稱。
 


 è¿·éœ§ã€å¯‚靜、忘憂林

 é¢¨å’Œæ—¥éº—的午後,來到海拔超過2000公尺的杉林溪,放眼過去盡是高聳的杉樹、檜木林,清新的空氣加上伴著山嵐吹來的微風,令人覺得舒暢。而在這片面積廣大的森林中,就在嶺頭山的半山腰,有一片鮮為人知的原始生態林,景色相當迷人,尤其山林雲霧升起,虛無飄渺之情實令人讚嘆。

這片滿佈原生植物的原始林,沼澤地形孕育出豐富的動植物生態,當地人稱之為「忘憂森林」,又因不時山嵐籠罩,有種感覺不到時空距離的美感,深幽的,朦朧的,因此又稱為「迷霧森林」。

忘憂森林海拔1964公尺,原本有一條山林小澗從中蜿蜒而過,九二一大地震時因土石坍方阻塞河道,而形成一處沼澤地,也使得沼澤地上的柳杉林因而死亡,一棵棵的柳杉筆直的朝向藍天,有種孤寂、蒼涼的美感。特殊的面貌,加上四季不同的景致,這裡,也成為許多愛好攝影及登山的人常常造訪之地。

忘憂森林隨著季節會產生不同的景觀,冬天枯水期,沼澤地逐漸乾枯,原本綠色的藻類植物乾燥之後變成一片雪白,像是下過雪似的,又像是一片白色的結晶體,非常漂亮。到了三、四月之後,山區的雨水又讓這裡恢復以往沼澤的生態景觀,水面上反射著枯樹的倒影,模糊的影像,與枯竭的忘憂林,加上光線的映攝,讓人忍不住又多按了幾次快門。

忘憂森林大致上仍保持原始的生態環境,周遭因為潮濕,除了大片杉樹、竹林之外,還有許多筆筒樹、石葦等蕨類植物及草本植物,仔細觀察,也可看見蕈類及許多小生物,三、四月時,還有許多野生君子蘭,也是個觀察高山生態的好地點。

 

八卦茶園 連老外都驚奇

許多人都看過經常在電視上播放、有著美麗茶園背景的茶飲廣告,但卻很少人知道這片茶園在哪裡,答案就是竹山的軟鞍茶園。順著地勢栽種的茶園,一圈一圈由外至內的排列,就像是八卦一般,也因此有了「八卦茶園」的美稱,令人讚嘆的景觀,不僅是遊客驚豔,連慕名前來的外國遊客都驚歎不已。

八卦茶園也稱軟鞍茶園,當地茶農稱為「八卦茶園」,由於這裡地形崎嶇呈現丘陵起伏狀,茶樹就像竹斗笠一般,一圈一圈的由最頂端的一小點,再環繞著中心點至外圍的最大圈,因此也有人稱為「笠仔園」。由於不同於一般層層排列狀的茶園景觀,更讓八卦茶園更顯獨特,尤其是春、秋採茶時節,採茶姑娘圍繞著茶園低頭採茶的風光,不但是電視廣告場景的布景、也是許多愛好攝影的人士鏡頭裡最美麗的影像,也是一個融合人文、自然與產業特色的景點。

竹山軟鞍地區是竹山高山茶重要的產地,這裡茶園分佈相當廣泛,一大片竹林之中整齊排列的茶園,加上周遭綿延的山景,使得軟鞍地區風景幽美、茶香四溢,美麗的景觀另人嘆為觀止,成為竹山最熱門的景點之一。