Over 100 years ago, a Japanese officer discovered that camphor grew in abundance in the hills around Sanyi (三義; Sānyì), a small Miaoli County town. Since camphor makes for excellent wood products (it's aromatic, extremely heavy and can resist termites), the officer wisely established a wood business. Over time, Sanyi became the woodcarving region in Taiwan and today nearly half the population is engaged in the business in one way or another.
The best time to visit Sanyi is in April when the white flowers of the blooming Youtong trees (Aleurites fordii) give the surrounding mountains the appearance of being dusted with snow. Most people visit on a day trip from Taipei or Taichung but if you have your own vehicle consider staying at Tai'an Hot Springs which can be reached via the bucolic County Rd 130 (east) connecting with Provincial Hwy 3. The 130 is also a popular cycling route with a challenging climb in the middle.