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No. 59, 2013

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Outdoor Playground

Northeast Coast TOP TEN TOURIST TOWNS Meinong in Southern Taiwan



Dragon Fruit in Taoyuan Taitung Balloon Fiesta Simakusi in Hsinchu Water Park Fun

Welcome to Taiwan! Dear Traveler, A hot Taiwan summer is drawing to a close, and while it’s considerably cooler in the fall, the outdoors still beckon. Many people even say that this is the best time for outdoor activities in Taiwan. In this issue of Travel in Taiwan , we visit the northeast coast, which is a popular playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Just a one-hour train ride f rom downtown Taipei, this part of Taiwan is a wonderf ully scenic area where you can take in marvelous views of the wide open ocean, coastal mountains, sandy beaches, and steep clif fs. There’s a plethora of choices for outdoor activities, f rom relaxed tanning on the beach to surf ing four-foot breakers, to snorkeling and scuba diving, to bicycling and kayaking, to hiking and rock climbing. Activities such as snorkeling and rock climbing can be done safely with the help of experienced and qualif ied local instructors, so that even beginners can explore the underwater world and test their limits on vertical rock walls. For our Backpack Bus Trip we head northwest to explore the north coast, which is equally varied and scenic. There, between the harbor town of Tamsui and the harbor city of Keelung, you can visit f ine sand beaches such as Baishawan, the amazing Juming Museum, the old town of Jinshan, and the famous Yeliu Geopark, among other attractions. We then visit a farm in Taoyuan County for our Food Journey segment to learn more about dragon f ruit, the juicy, ref reshing f ruit of a cactus-family plant that has a number of health-enhancing qualities – and a nice taste too! In our Active Fun section we cool down in one of Taiwan’s best-known water parks, and have f un trying out a variety of water slides and pools with manmade waves. Finally, we head all the way down the eastern coast to the city of Taitung. There we spend an evening taking in the warm and cozy atmosphere of the Tiehua Music Village, a live-music open-air venue where you can listen to music performed by talented local musicians. North of Taitung is Luye Gaotai, a highland area which in recent years has become the venue of a joy-inspiring event, the Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta. For more than two months this summer, each day colorf ul giant hot-air balloons, some with amazingly creative shapes, could be seen taking to the air, and in our Splendid Festivals article we take you on a short tethered f light. As you can see, when visiting Taiwan you’ll have the chance to play in the water, on the ground, and even in the air! On behalf of the Tourism Bureau, I wish you a f un-f illed time here!

David W. J. Hsieh Director General Tourism Bureau, MOTC, R.O.C.

CONTENTS September ~ October 2013

10 ,

PUBLISHER David W. J. Hsieh Editing Consultant 

Producer Vision Int l Publ. Co., Ltd. Address Rm. 5, 10F, 2 Fuxing N. Rd., Taipei, 104 Taiwan

Wayne Hsi-Lin Liu

TEL: 886-2-2711-5403 Fax: 886-2-2721-2790 E-MAIL: endy L. C. Yen General Manager W rank K. Yen Deputy General Manager F Editor in Chief Johannes Twellmann English Editor Rick Charette DIRECTOR OF PLANNING & EDITING DEPT Joe Lee MANAGING EDITOR Sunny Su EDITORS Ming-Jing Yin, Gemma Cheng, Chloe Chu, Nickey Liu CONTRIBUTORS Rick Charette, Joe Henley, Mark Caltonhill, Owain Mckimm, Cheryl Robbins, Paul Naylor PHOTOGRAPHERS Jen Guo-Chen, Sunny Su, Maggie Song, Fred Cheng ART DIRECTOR Sting Chen DESIGNERS Fred Cheng, Maggie Song, Eve Chiang, Karen Pan ui-chun Tsai, Nai-jen Liu, Xiou Mieng Jiang Administrative Dept H 86-2-2721-5412 Advertising Hotline 8

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Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications CONTACT

International Division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Add: 9F, 290 Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei, 10694, Taiwan Tel: 886-2-2717-3737   Fax: 886-2-2771-7036 E-mail: Website:

台 灣 觀 光 雙 月 刊 Travel in Taiwan The Official Bimonthly English Magazine of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (Advertisement) September/October, 2013 Tourism Bureau, MOTC First published Jan./Feb., 2004 ISSN: 18177964 GPN: 2009305475 Price: NT$200 Copyright @ 2013 Tourism Bureau. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without written permission is prohibited.


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Fun at the Northeast Coast (photo by Jen Guo-Chen)

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FEATURE 10 Northeast Coast — Main — Stay/Eat

The Northeast Coast – Healthy Fun under the (So Very!) Warming Pacific Sun Overnighting and Eating on the Northeast Coast – Ocean Views and Fresh Experiences in Food

1 Publisher’s Note 4 Taiwan Tourism Events 6 News & Events around Taiwan 8 Concerts, Exhibitions, and Happenings


21 Meeting Tourists 32 Fun with Chinese 54 Daily Life


Meinong — Strong Hakka Culture, Bucolic Beauty


The Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta —Colorful Balloons Paint the East Rift Valley


Taitung’s Tiehua Village —A Fine Place to Wind Down and Listen to Indigenous Music



Riding the North Coast Line —A Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus Trip from Tamsui to Keelung

INDIGENOUS VILLAGES 42  Simakusi (Smangus)

—A Charming Village Deep in the Mountains


Cool Fire and Friendly Dragons — Getting to Know the “Fire Dragon Fruit”

ACTIVE FUN 50  Water Frolics

— Cooling Down and Having a Blast in a Local Water Park


Travel in Taiwan


The weather

is cooling, and festivals embracing the joys of being outdoors are calling. If we tell you to “go jump in the lake,” we mean no offense, for there is a big cross-lake swim event coming up at popular Sun Moon Lake. The lake is also the venue for a both soothing and pulse-stimulating fireworksand-symphony-music jubilee. Elsewhere around this endlessly stimulating land, enjoy theater in a city Fireworks and Cultural Entertainment Galore center sitting on a grassy lawn, ancient Confucian rites at Taiwan’s original Confucius Temple, a celebration of woodcarving in a high-hill township, and more Sep. 8 fireworks and international-caliber cultural-arts performances that are Sun Moon Lake Swimming Carnival ( 日月潭萬人泳渡 ) part of Double Ten National Day Locations: Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi Township, Nantou County ( 南投縣魚池鄉日月潭 ) celebrations. Tel: (049) 285-5668 Website:

in the Fall

Nantou is Taiwan’s only landlocked county, but it possesses one of its most beautiful water pearls, Sun Moon Lake. This famous mountain-surrounded scenic destination is Taiwan’s largest freshwater lake, and the idyllic setting has made cross-lake swim events, bicycling, and marathons big draws. The annual Swimming Carnival, started in 1983 and, recognized by the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2002, attracts tens of thousands of swimming enthusiasts from around the world. The swim, 3,000 meters long, is open to everyone with long-distance skills 10 years and older (minors must be accompanied by an adult with life-saving qualifications), including the mentally/physically challenged.



Nov. 10

Sun Moon Lake International Music Fireworks Festival ( 日月潭國際花火音樂嘉年華 ) Location: Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi Township, Nantou County ( 南投縣魚池鄉日月潭 ) Tel: (049) 285-5668 Website: Tranquil Sun Moon Lake’s Lalu Island divides the lake into two sections, sun-shaped on the east and moonshaped on the west. Surrounded by forested mountains, the lake’s smooth emerald-green surface is the perfect mirror for fireworks spectacles. The fireworks music festival is one of three grand annual events on the lake area’s calendar, along with the Swimming Carnival and the Cherry Blossom Festival. During the day, enjoy walks and hikes along the lake and in the nearby hills, and enjoy the lake loop, called one of the world’s 10 best cycling destinations by CNNGo, before settling in at lakeside for the night-time symphony music and fireworks fest.


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Sanyi International Woodcarving Art Festival ( 三義國際木雕藝術節 ) Locations: Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum (88 Guansheng Xincheng, Guangsheng Village, Sanyi Township, Miaoli County/ 苗栗縣三義鄉 廣盛村廣聲新城 88 號 ) Tel: (037) 876-009 Website: Sanyi Township is in the south of hilly Miaoli County. On the boundary of Taiwan’s north/ south weather systems, oft shrouded in mist November through March, it is sometimes called “Taiwan’s fog capital.” Fragrant camphor wood is available in abundance here, and in 1918 Wu Jin-bao and his son began using it for creative sculpting, later on passing on their skills to other locals. Today the area is Taiwan’s wood-sculpture capital, teeming with shops and studios. The woodcarving art festival, first staged in 2001, brims with local character, and includes static carvingaesthetics exhibits, dynamic cultural-arts performances, and DIY woodcarving experiences – both fun and edifying.have fun during the Yilan International Children's Folklore and Folkgame Festival.

September ~ October

Sep. Confucius Temple Cultural Festival ( 孔廟文化節 )



Location: Tainan Confucius Temple (2 Nanmen Rd., Tainan City/ 台南市南門路 2 號 ) Tel: (06) 299-1111 Website: (in Chinese only) The elaborate Confucius Ceremony, unchanged since ancient times, is centered around sacrificial offerings showing respect to the “Supreme Sage and Teacher.” Filled with auspicious symbolism, it was conducted quarterly (later solely in Spring and Autumn), and also held to commemorate the establishment of schools by emperors or dukes, imperial school visits, and emperors’ return from war. The Confucius Temple Cultural Festival encompasses a wide variety of activities, including the Autumn Confucius Ceremony, a heritage-site music salon, Confucius Temple ritual musical instrument exhibit, guided temple tours, Confucian Six Arts theme activities, Minglun Hall lectures, children’s drawing sessions, and classics readings.





International Fireworks and Arts Festival ( 國際煙火暨國際藝術季 ) Location: Hsinchu County ( 新竹縣 ) Tel: (03) 551-8101 Website: (Hsinchu City Government) This is a key event in Double Ten National Day celebrations launched back in 1953, when the fireworks were released from near Taipei’s Presidential Office Building. With the number of fireworks growing to tens of thousands, the launch site was moved to near the Tamsui River. Since 2000, different cities and counties around the country have taken turns serving as host, each seeking to outdo all previous night-sky spectaculars. Each host incorporates special local characteristics and folk customs into their presentation. There are myriad cultural-arts performances, showcasing top troupes from home and abroad, making this also a world-class arts festival.

Huashan Living Arts Festival ( 華山藝術生活節 )





Location: Huashan 1914 Creative Park ( 華山 1914 文化創意產業園區 ) Tel: (02) 2707-1336 Website:, This annual event, staged at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park heritage complex, will feature 400-plus theatrical performances, with free weekend shows in Huashan Square. The Center Stage program features many hit Taiwan works that have both received critical acclaim and done well at the box office. The Demonstration program brings together troupes of widely varying style; you’ll enjoy drama, dance, music, acrobatics, and other artistic forms. The Outdoor Show program allows visitors to freely roam the Huashan Square lawn, picnick, and watch shows in a unique theater-viewing experience. In the ARTS Hunting Ground, you yourself become an artist and stage performer.

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News & Events around Taiwan


Giant Rubber Duck in Kaohsiung Starting September 19, a giant rubber duck will f loat on the waters of Kaohsiung Harbor in southern Taiwan. Since it was designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman in 2007 several versions of this giant yellow duck, which is inf lated with air, have been seen f loating about in different cities around the world, including Sao Paulo, Osaka, Auckland and, most recently, Hong Kong. The artist’s aim in creating the duck has simply been to “spread joy around the world.” The duck will be on display in Kaohsiung Harbor near Guangrong Pier for about a month, and is expected to draw more than 3 million visitors to the harbor.


Pavilion of Dreams Reopened The Pavilion of Dreams inside Taipei Expo Park was recently reopened, featuring a new presentation of a dreamlike world. Visitors are encouraged to engage in interactive fun with the help of special handheld smart devices (“The Dream Time Machine”). Visitors create their own dream story while making their way through the six halls, marveling at a wonder world created using the latest technologies. Tickets for adults are NT$100. For more info, visit (at time of issue in Chinese only).

Travel Guide

101 Tips To Living in Taiwan A couple of expats living in Taiwan recently released a free online guide for people planning to visit Taiwan for the first time and who are considering living and working here. It’s a comprehensive introduction with numerous practical tips targeted at foreigners who know nothing, or not much, about the island, based on the couple’s own experiences. Download the guide from:


Travel in Taiwan


Travel Environment without Obstacles Not every traveler is young and mobile. With populations in affluent countries aging, the percentage of older travelers is constantly on the increase; families with young children, and the physically or mentally challenged, are also among those who like to travel and explore new places. Recognizing the needs of these travelers, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is actively working on making local travel destinations obstacle-free. This year the Bureau has created five model areas within national scenic areas that are suitable for travelers with special needs: the seaside beach resort of Fulong on the northeast coast, Baishawan Beach on the north coast, Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan, the hot-spring town of Guguan in Taichung, and Dapeng Bay in southwestern Taiwan. All of these places feature special facilities (special toilets, ramps and railings, parking spots for the handicapped, paths suitable for wheelchairs, etc.), means of transports (low-floor buses, wheelchairs for rent, etc.), and service counters with helpful staff that enhance the travel experience of less mobile visitors.


Hong Kong-Tainan Flights Since July, the cities of Hong Kong and Tainan have been connected by direct f lights offered by China Airlines, allowing travelers to get from the modern, hustling metropolis on southern China’s coast to the laid-back old capital of Taiwan and back in no time. Services are offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. China Airlines currently operates 159 f lights a week to Hong Kong from four cities in Taiwan, including 88 f lights from Taoyuan, 28 from Taichung, 40 from Kaohsiung, and 3 from Tainan. For more information, visit


Tainan’s Great South Gate Now a Cultural Venue Hidden in a small park in the heart of Tainan City, the Great South Gate is a national historic site of the third grade dating back 300 years. This summer the gate has been given a new purpose, besides being an insider tourist side. Every evening the small half-moonshaped plaza in front of the gate, which is encircled by part of the old city wall, becomes a venue for cultural performances. From Monday to Thursday young amateur musicians are given the chance to show their talent, while Friday to Sunday established performers are invited. Friday is “Jazz Night,” Saturday is “Classical Music Night,” and Sunday is “Taiwan Song Night.” Apart from the musical entertainment, visitors can also sample local traditional specialties such as shaved ice with fruit toppings, sit down for a fragrant coffee, and browse stands selling traditional handicrafts. The gate is located inside Nanmen Park at the intersection of Nanmen Road and Shulin Street.


Bitan Bridge Light Show Bitan, in New Taipei City’s Xindian District, is a popular spot for relaxed walks, paddling on the “lake” (which in fact is a widened section of the Xindian River), and dining on the riverbank. Spanning the river is a well-known suspension bridge, erected in 1937 and recently listed as a historic site by the city government. In the evening (every half hour from 7 to 9 p.m.) the bridge is now highlighted with a special light-and-music show lasting four minutes, with a different theme each day of the week. Getting to Bitan is very easy. Just take the MRT Xindian Line to the terminal Xindian Station and walk about 5 minutes to the river.

Travel in Taiwan

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Concerts, Exhibitions, and Happenings

Taiwan has a diverse cultural scene, with art venues ranging from international-caliber concert halls and theaters to makeshift stages on temple plazas. Among Taiwan's museums is the world-famous National Palace Museum as well as many smaller museums dedicated to different art forms and aspects of Taiwanese culture. Here is a brief selection of upcoming happenings. For more information, please visit the websites of the listed venues. September 26 ~ December 8 National Theater

World View Series: Belgium 世界之窗:非常比利時 Each year, the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center chooses a theme country for its annual “World View Series,” giving local audiences the chance to learn about and connect with international performing art trends. This fall the focus is on Belgium, and there will be outstanding music, dance, and theater performances by Belgian artists in the National Theater/Experimental Theater and National Concert Hall/ Recital Hall. The series will start with Guy Cassiers & Toneelhuis performing Sunken Red, a lamentation for a deceased mother and a recollection of the Japanese prison camps of WWII. Next up is Isabella’s Room, performed by Jan Lauwers & Needcompany. The play is about a blind woman, Isabella, who lives a withdrawn existence in a room in Paris and becomes a participant in a scientific experiment in which a camera projects images of a collection of objects directly into her brain. Following this will be the Concert of Lais, featuring music by accordion player Didier Laloy and performances by multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre and choreographer/dancer Lisbeth Gruwez.

September 20 ~ 22 Novel Hall

Akram Khan: Desh 阿喀郎 • 汗 Desh is a full-length contemporary solo work, the most personal created to date by celebrated choreographer and performer Akram Khan. Khan, born in London, is of Bangladeshi descent, and Desh (Bengali for “homeland”) is essentially his attempt to understand his parents’ country and thereby make sense of himself. The performance is a combination of extraordinary dance, beautiful music (by Joscelyn Pook) and lighting (by Michael Hulls), and astonishing animation (by designer Tim Yip and digital animators Yeast Culture.

July 12 ~ October 20 Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

Robot Kitty

機械 KITTY 微笑科技互動展

The future of Hello Kitty, the world famous fictional character created by Japanese company Sanrio nearly 40 years ago, is on display in this interactive exhibition. Visitors can take part in interactive games and explore the “Robot Kitty Smile Technology and Interactive Exhibition” to earn “K coins” and game points by passing various tests. Hello Kitty fans can purchase a wide range of Hello Kitty goods, including love arrows and golden helmets, and marvel at the drawings of Robot Kitty created by several Taiwanese celebrities.

July 30 ~ August 4 National Theater

Ballet Nacional de España: Grito & Suite Sevilla 西班牙國家舞團《佛朗明哥喝采》 Ballet Nacional de España, founded by legendary flamenco icon Antonio Gades in 1978, is a world-class company consisting of highly talented dancers, singers, and musicians. Current Artistic Director Antonio Najarro has won international recognition for the group in recent years. On this visit, Ballet Nacional de España is presenting two classic dance pieces. Grito, which features live-band music, reveals the variety of flamenco. Suite Sevilla combines traditional Spanish dance, ballet, and bull-fighting dance with passionate songs composed by Rafael Riguenti.


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May 11 ~ November 10 National Taiwan Museum

Qipao Memory, Modernity and Fashion 旗麗時代:伊人、衣事、新風尚特展 This exhibition by the National Taiwan Museum and Fu Jen Catholic University introduces you to the traditional Chinese qipao. It has five themes – Women’s Qipao Tales, The Bridal Qipao Collection, Three Generations of Women, Beauty Is in the Details, and A Century of Qipao Evolution. A total of 144 traditional dresses are on display as well as three paintings depicting qipao-wearing women during the Japanese colonial period and the early period after Taiwan Retrocession. Visitors also have the chance to virtually “try on” qipaos in a multimedia-experience zone with the help of a computer.

May 3 ~ November 24 National Palace Museum

Voyage with the Tailwind: Qing Archival and Cartographical Materials on Maritime History in the National Palace Museum 順風相送:院藏清代海洋史料特展 This exhibition focuses on maritime activities during the Qing Dynasty (1644 ~ 1912). It is divided into four sections: A Million Miles of Defense, on the Qing court’s views and governance of sea affairs; Sailing on the Seven Seas, on the ships and trade competitions; Those Exotic Foreign Lands, on the tributary system and Qing China's knowledge of foreign lands; and Changes in the Coastal Life, on the development of coastal cities and overall changes in life of those living off the seas. On display are historical maritime materials from the Qing Dynasty, including various sea charts, court decrees, palace memorials, imperial comments, official records, and all kinds of writings about foreign lands and coastal life, as well as Western reportage on China’s maritime frontiers.

Venues Taipei Taipei Zhongshan Hall (台北中山堂)

Add: 98, Yanping S. Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市延平南 路 9 8 號 )

Tel: (02) 2381-3137 Nearest MRT Station: Ximen

Taipei International Convention Center (台北國際會議中心)

Add: 1, Xinyi Rd., Sec.5, Taipei City ( 台北市信義 路五段 1 號 )

Tel: (02) 2725-5200, ext. 3517, 3518 Nearest MRT Station: Taipei City Hall

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall(國立中正紀念堂) Add: 21 Zhongshan S. Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市中山南 路 21 號 )   

Tel: (02) 2343-1100~3 Nearest MRT Station: CKS Memorial Hall

National Concert Hall(國家音樂聽) National Theater(國家戲劇院) Add: 21-1 Zhongshan S. Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市中山南 路 21-1 號 )

Tel: (02) 3393-9888 Nearest MRT Station: CKS Memorial Hall

National Museum of History (國立歷史博物館)

Add: 49 Nanhai Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市 南 海路 4 9 號 )

Tel: (02) 2361-0270 Nearest MRT Station: CKS Memorial Hall

National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院)

Add: 221 Zhishan Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei City ( 台北市至 善路 2 段 2 21 號 )

Tel: (02) 2881-2021 Nearest MRT Station: Shilin

National Taiwan Museum (國立臺灣博物館)

Add: 2 Xiangyang Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市 襄 陽 路二號 )

September 28 TWTC Nangang Exhibition Hall

The Killers

Tel: (02) 2382-2566 Nearest MRT Station: NTU Hospital

Novel Hall(新舞臺)


The Killers is a highly popular American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada, formed in 2001 by lead singer Brandon Flowers and guitarist Dave Keuning. The group’s debut album Hot Fuss (2004), featuring the singles Somebody Told Me, Mr Brightside, and All These Things That I've Done, was a big success worldwide, with 7 million units sold. The members have produced three more albums since then, with sales of more than 20 million worldwide. In 2010, after six years of constant touring, the group took a break, during which the band members pursued solo projects. They returned to studio and stage in 2011, producing a new album and touring the world. This September the band will be in Asia, with concerts planned in Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan.

Add: 3 Songshou Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市松 壽路 3 號 )

Tel: (02) 2722-4302 Nearest MRT Station: Taipei City Hall

National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (國立國父紀念館)

Add: 505 Ren-ai Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City ( 台北市仁 愛 路 四 段 5 0 5 號 )

Tel: (02) 2758-8008 Nearest MRT Station: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

Taipei Arena(台北小巨蛋) Add: 2 Nanjing E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City ( 台北市 南 京 東 路 4 段 2 號 )

Tel: (02) 2577-3500 Nearest MRT Station: Nanjing E. Rd.

Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館)

Add: 181 Zhongshan N. Rd., Sec. 3, Taipei City ( 台北市中山北 路 3 段 181 號 )

Tel: (02) 2595-7656 Nearest MRT Station: Yuanshan

Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei(台北當代藝術館) Add: 39 Chang-an W. Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市長 安 西 路 3 9 號 )

Tel: (02) 2552-3720 Nearest MRT Station: Zhongshan

TWTC Nangang Exhibiton Hall (台北世貿中心南港展覽館)

Add: 1, Jingmao 2nd Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市經貿二路 1 號 )

Tel: (02) 2725-5200 Nearest MRT Station: Nangang Exhibition Hall

Douglas Lapraik & Co. Building (得忌利士洋行)

Add: 316 Zhongzheng Rd., Tamsui District, New Taipei City ( 新北市淡水區中正路 316 號 ) Tel: (02) 2629-9522 Website: Nearest MRT Station: Tamsui

Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts (關渡美術館)

Add: 1 Xueyuan Rd., Beitou District, Taipei City ( 台北市北投區學園路 1 號 ) Tel: (02) 2896-1000 Website: Nearest MRT Station: Guandu

Taichung National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts(國立台灣美術館) Add: 2 Wuquan W. Rd., Sec. 1, Taichung City ( 台中市五權 西 路 一段 2 號 )

Tel: (04) 2372-3552

Tainan Tainan City Cultural Center (台南市立文化中心)

Add: 332 Zhonghua E. Rd., Sec. 3, Tainan City ( 台南 市中華東 路 3 段 332 號 )

Tel: (06) 269-2864

Kaohsiung Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts(高雄市立美術館) Add: 80 Meishuguan Rd., Kaohsiung City ( 高 雄 市美 術館 路 8 0 號 )

Tel: (07) 555-0331 Nearest KMRT Station: Aozihdi Station

Kaohsiung Museum of History (高雄市立歷史博物館)

Add: 272 Zhongzheng 4th Rd., Kaohsiung City ( 高 雄 市中正四 路 27 2 號 )

Tel: (07) 531-2560 Nearest KMRT Station: City Council

Travel in Taiwan



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Snorkeling at Longdong Bay


Travel in Taiwan


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Travel in Taiwan




It’s a Monday

morning, and I’m standing on a street corner in downtown Taipei. It’s startlingly early for night-owl me – 0700 hours. The rest of my adventure team shows up, one by one. With all present and accounted for, we launch. We’re selfdriving and, just beating the rush-hour traffic, we’re out of the city and on the northeast coast in just 30 minutes. Our quest this trip – outdoor exercise, myriad ways, in a big natural playground. The northeast coast stretches from just south of the harbor city of Keelung to just north of the town of Toucheng in the northeast corner of the wide, oceanfacing Lanyang Plain in Yilan County. We’re exploring the section that lies within the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area, from a place called Nanya to Toucheng. Taiwan’s shape is often compared to a tobacco leaf floating in the sea, leaf tip on the north, stubby stem on the south. Long and high mountain ranges run north-south along its length, the ridges in the far north veering northeast and dropping into the sea. This, as you’d guess, makes for stunning scenery and really nice photos. There are a few flattish indentations on the northeast coast where farming is attempted, but fishing is the name of the game in these parts (along with tourism these days), and all along the coast here you’ll come across brightly painted craft packed in like sardines in nifty little harbors with cliff-y backdrops at the base of high, finger-like capes. A single road – Provincial Highway No. 2, commonly called the Coastal Highway – is etched into the base of the high bluffs that jostle for position along the shore. Rock climbing at Longdong Cape


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Rock climbing instruc tor Xiao Huzi

One climbs, one holds the rope to ensure safet y

Rock climbing gear

Our first

stop is Nanya, an area between highway and coast that features gnarled sandstone rock formations shaped by patient wind/water erosion. The sun is still at a nice low angle when we arrive, accentuating the whimsical nature of the shapes. The rock, underwater long ago, has been pushed up by tectonic activity. The formations have dazzling striations of iron that have become efflorescent with exposure to sun and air. The best-known formation is a giant rock that looks – to me, an ice-cream lover fighting his weight – like a humongous butterscotch custard (the sandstone) lined with caramel layers (the iron) that is melting. Go verify for yourself. The boardwalks here make a walk a pleasure.

Next up – rock climbing. Longdong, literally “Dragon Hole,” has north Taiwan’s best rock climbing, on the sheer rock cliffs that run along much of the length of Longdong Cape. According to one of our two climbing guides this day, Xiao Huzi (“Little Beard”), owner of XHZ Adventure School, “Dragon Hole” refers to a massive cave at the base; long-ago folk thought that surely “here be dragons.” The hole was carved by wave and tide before tectonic activity pushed it up and out of the sea. We meet up with Little Beard and Zhang Yu-xiang, one of Taiwan’s top rock climbers, at the tiny fishing village of Longdong, on the cape’s north side on Longdong Bay, at a diving/snorkeling gear shop – the Longdong area also has north

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Jumping into the cool sea water

Salt water swimming p ools at Longdong Bay

Water ac tivities are safe with qual if ied instruc tors at hand

Taiwan’s best diving – just before the end of the village’s one, dead-end, road. Making our way carefully along the boulderstrewn shore beyond the village, we come to sheer-rock cliffs, mostly sandstone, that soar 40 meters high, receive instruction on climbing basics, and revel in two hours of scrambling up and down at different locations. Our guides bring all gear, and one is near you at all times, leading the way and attached to the same safety rope. Note: A long-time resident of Taiwan, American Matt Robertson, is the author of a comprehensive guide to Longdong’s scores of climbing routes. Visit for details.

Following this – sea snorkeling. Longdong Bay (“Longdongwan”) is one of the northeast’s most popular swimming spots on the northeast, and one of Taiwan’s top diving locations, featuring a great variety of marine life in its cool, clear waters. The recreational facilities within the park here, Longdong Ocean Park, are centered on snorkeling and


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A puf fer fish; Longdong Bay has many p eculiar fish

diving. There is a large roped-off area with water up to a man’s chest on the deep side. There are lifeguards, and if you rent diving/snorkeling equipment you can swim about on your own here. Snorkeling and diving classes are also held, and you can pay, as we do, to have one of the licensed instructors take you out into deeper water, where currents are stronger and a reef serves as a natural breakwater. Not all of us are experienced swimmers or snorkelers, so we do not venture further. (The park demands everyone wear life jackets and dive suits.) Though not quite as colorful as Kenting National Park, the marine-life viewing is nevertheless splendid. Among the most colorful and/or interesting creatures I see are angelfish, puffer fish, starfish, clown fish, spiky urchins, flying gurnards, and scorpion fish. I repeatedly watch, fascinated, as fevered schools of small sweetfish attack and eat the small, almost invisible jellyfish that make it past the reef (your dive suit protects you from the latter).


T he waters are teeming with fish in all colors

E xploring the sea b ot tom

Tak ing in the sunset at Bitou Cap e

After our sea life exploration – cape hiking. We first tackle the Longdongwan Cape Trail, starting on Longdong Cape’s south side. There is a large, attractive temple just off the highway; the trailhead parking lot is just beyond. Our main interest here is reaching the tip of the cape and taking in the spectacular views standing on the edge of the sheer cliffs 40plus meters high in spots. For this you need just15~20 minutes one way, passing by informative signboards with good English and pathways down to the shore. We see scores of long-line fishermen posed on rocky outcrops far down below, surf crashing near their feet. Along the trail are grassy areas, one with a gazebo where we get a great bird’s-eye view of the giant dragon cave below, looking down past our feet. The dragon seems to be out for the day, for all is quiet.

To the north, past Longdong Ocean Park, is the next cape, rugged Bitou Cape. We go back, get our car, and drive to the highway-side Bitou Cape parking lot. The large cape covers an area of almost five square kilometers. There are two paths you can follow, both starting beside the highway, both following the cape’s south-side contours, one up above the cliffs, one following the rocky shore, the latter defined by stone platforms and other strange-shaped eroded landforms. They join above the cliffs about half-way along to the cape’s tip, where a proud white lighthouse stands 120 meters above the crashing surf (the structure itself is 12.3 meters). It was put up by the Japanese in 1896, and was given its present form after being bombed by the Allies in WW II. The cape’s path-accessed highest point is just before the tip, from which we enjoy spectacular views of mountains falling into the sea, north and south, as far as the eye can see.

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Guide Wang shows the prop er way to hold a paddle

Heading for the sea at Fulong


We overnight

at Longmen Riverside Camping Resort (see our Feature – Stay/Eat article), and in the morning walk over to the section along the Shuangxi River. Our host this morning is John Sun, head of the resort’s kayaking operation. We get our life-jackets and paddles, are introduced to our guide, Wang Yu-wei (“Wei Wei”), and receive instructions in kayaking basics. I note that all the kayaks are open-faced and are for two people (with a middle seat for kids), and John informs me that originally all craft were the “Eskimo” kind that seal around the waist, but that Asian folk are not as experienced as Westerners on/in water, and customers were always nervous they could not handle rollovers. We head out with Wei Wei, first visit the long sand bar that runs almost completely across the river where it meets the sea, enjoying the sweeping coastal-mountain panorama, then head upriver for a run of about 8 km (return), enjoying the egrets, herons, crabs, jumping fish, and other local inhabitants. Note: You’re out on open water for quite some time, so if pale-skinned like myself, cover up well and bring sunblock, which is regularly washed off exposed skin by paddle-splashing.

Just upriver from the kayaking center you’ll see a picturesque suspension bridge, for bikers and walkers. This is


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K ayak ing on the Shuangxi River

part of a long, easy-grade route stretching a few km south of Fulong town and north to Yanliao village. Most people start out from Fulong; there are bike-rental shops before the train station, the daily rate just NT$100 (the Longmen campground also has rentals for guests).

Our final

outdoor challenge before heading home to Taipei is surfing – well, attempts at surfing, anyway. We first went to Wushi Harbor, where there is a decided party atmosphere at the beach near the northside breakwater. The narrow road before the beach, with a wooded area between, is lined with surf-gear shops, cafés, and other outlets catering to the beach-bum crowd. Our host and instructor this afternoon, Xiao Gu (“Little Gu”), is owner of G-Cool Surf, a shop/café/bar selling and renting gear. This and other shops give group surf lessons on the beach, and Xiao Gu gives us a private lesson, kindly refraining from chuckling as we endlessly fumble about and perform comic flips and tumbles. Telling us that the crowds at this popular location make it hard for more accomplished surfers to find much open water, he takes us a bit north to the less- or undeveloped beach of Honeymoon Bay where hard-core surfers hang out. It is at Daxi town, directly across from the highway-side railway station. There are far fewer people here and waves at the area’s surf beach are about four feet.


Sur fer at Wushi Harb or

Catching a wave

Inside the G - Cool Sur f Shop

Sur f shop owner Xiao Gu

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx Boards can b e rented on the b each at Wushi Harb or

XHZ Adventure School ( 小鬍子冒險學校 ) Tel: (02) 2215-9019 / Xiao Huzi mobile: 0939 625 099 Website: (Chinese) Longdong Ocean Park ( 龍洞海洋公園 ) Add: 85K on Provincial Highway No. 2 ( 台二線濱海公路 85K) Tel: (02) 2490-9258 / 2457-6378 Website: (limited English)

G-Cool Surf Shop ( 極酷衝浪 ) Add: 93-2, Gangkou Rd., Gangkou Borough, Toucheng Town, Yilan County ( 宜蘭縣頭城鎮港口里港口路 93 之 2 號 ) Tel: (03) 977-0266 Website: (limited English) Chinese Taipei Surfing Association ( 中華民國衝浪運動協會 ) Tel: 0933-625-518 Website: (Chinese)

Paddle Around ( 舟遊天下 ) Add: 8, Aly. 30, Ln. 811, Sec. 5, Zhongshan N. Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市中山北路五段 811 巷 30 弄 8) Tel: (02) 8866-2558 Website:

Getting There & Getting Around A number of stations on the North Link Railway, which runs from Taipei to Hualien, are on the coastal strip we’ve explored here, and trains run often enough that you can use it like a bus to explore the northeast coast. Taiwan Tourist Shuttle ( buses on the Gold Fulong Route also cover much of this article’s area, running between Ruifang Railway Station and the Tourism Bureau’s Fulong Visitor Center.

English and Chinese Bitou Cape 鼻頭角 Coastal Highway 海岸公路 Daxi 大溪 Fulong Visitor Center 福隆遊客中心 Gold Fulong Route 黃金福隆線 Honeymoon Bay 蜜月灣 John Sun 孫兆鴻 Longdong Bay 龍洞灣 Longdong Cape 龍洞岬角 Longdong Ocean Park 龍洞海洋公園

Longdongwan Cape Trail 龍洞灣岬步道 Nanya 南雅 Ruifang Railway Station 瑞芳火車站 Shuangxi River 雙溪河 Wang Yu-wei 王玉瑋 Wushi Harbor 烏石港 Xiao Huzi 小鬍子 Xiao Gu 小顧 Yanliao 鹽寮 Lanyang Plain 蘭陽平原 Zhang Yu-xiang 張宇翔

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Overnighting and Eating on the Northeast Coast Ocean Views and Fresh Food Experiences Text: Rick Charette

Photos: Jen Guo-chen

When exploring the northeast coast’s long, narrow band of somewhat flat land between Nanya and Toucheng town, your sleep options range from rustic “au naturel” campground accommodations to an upscale spa resort. Since you’re traveling an area dotted like a long necklace with fishing harbors, you won’t be surprised that the main ingredient on local restaurant menus is freshness. And local seafood eateries serve delicious fresh-from-the-boat fare that leave you free of pocketbook heartburn. to Keelung


Bitou Cape Longdong Bay Longdong Ocean Park Longdong Cape

East China Sea

New Taipei City

Longmen Riverside Camping Resort Fullon Hotel Fulong Fulong

Daxi Honeymoon Bay Leo Ocean Resort

Yilan County

G-Cool Surf Shop Wushi Harbor Live Seafood Restaurant Wushi Harbor


to Yilan/Hualien Provincial Highway Railway County Road


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If you arrive with zero in the way of camping gear, no problem


Accommodation Longmen Riverside

Camping Resort, perhaps Taiwan’s most popular campground, is between coast and highway just north of Fulong town. “Longmen” means “dragon gate,” referring to the debouche of the camp-side Shuangxi River, the northeast’s largest waterway. According to the general manager of the sprawling 37-hectare campground, Chen Chin-ying, the facility was opened in 1991 on the former site of a massive sand-mining operation, and hosted the FICC International Camping Rally in that same year, with participants coming from around the world. Where there was once a giant open pit, today you find rest and relaxation amidst a quiet oasis of tall trees. Well, quiet during the week, anyway. This is very much a place for families and student groups on weekends. The campground can handle a total of 1,400 people. There is a superb range of accommodation facilities, with 231 campsites (grass, wooden platforms, roofed wooden platforms, and automobile campsites) and spacious, comfortable wood cabins available, and a wide range of recreation facilities – swimming pool, wading pool, sand pool, bike rentals and bikeway, watersports, basketball court, etc. (see our main Feature for more on the exercise options). Food is also sold on-site, and if you arrive with zero in the way of camping gear, no problem – everything from tents and sleeping bags to barbecues and towels can be rented.

Other fine options to consider are the Fullon Hotel Fulong (, a villa-style resort not far from the Longmen campground, and the hot-spring town of Jiaoxi, just south of Toucheng (next stop on the railway), which has scores of quality hot-spring hotels in different price ranges.

Eating “Wushi Harbor

Live Seafood Restaurant” is the largest, brightest, and best of a row of seafood restaurants fronting Wushi Harbor. The food here, from land and sea, is ultra-fresh – you’ll see many of your selections-to-be swimming and crawling in entrance-area tanks. The catch actually comes from nearby Daxi Fishing Harbor, for much of Wushi Harbor is now given over to tourist-cruise craft used for popular outings to within-sight Guishan (Turtle) Island, and island f ly-by dolphin/whale-spotting excursions.

The food here, from land and sea, is ultra-fresh

Leo Ocean

Resort is the brainchild and, quite evidently, the beloved child of developer John Kao. Just north of Toucheng, it is built on a rugged slope right up to and onto the rocky shore. The architecture emulates elements of Yilan’s traditional courtyard residences, with red brick, white-mortar trim, and ceramic artworks worked right into the walls. The grounds are landscaped so anything man-made blends with the upraised coral, giant boulders, and stratified rock formations. Pathways curve around the natural “coral art,” and the freshwater swimming pool is built around upraised “coral islands.” There are lovely alfresco saltwater hot-spring pools, with superb ocean views; and rooms, all sea-facing, are outfitted with Japanese-style tubs. The nature-heated saltwater, which seeps down through stratified rock layers, picking up minerals, is piped up from 800 meters below ground. Within the resort is the Lion’s Kingdom Museum, displaying Kao’s superb private collection of ancient Chinese treasures, most of which he says were smuggled out of China during the Cultural Revolution.

Wushi Harb or Live Seafood Restaurant

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FEATURE On the menu (Chinese) you’ll see six Taiwan banquet-style feasts for 8~10 diners. The lowest-priced is a 10-course repast which, though just NT$2,000, features five seafood courses. Smaller groups and individuals are welcomed, with prices adjusted according to dish number/type.

Wushi Harb or Live Seafood Restaurant

The best dishes, in my humble opinion? No. 1, without a doubt, is the delectable batter-fried neritic squid with garlic and dried chili peppers, followed by the sashimi platter, clam soup, and yashang (dried and smoked duck, an Yilan specialty). I’d better stop there.

Though introduced

second in this article, the Seascape Café is my favorite area spot for a meal (and two coffees). Inside Longdong Ocean Park, it has the bright, airy look and feel of a window-walled café on a quiet Greek island, along with the requisite majestic, unobstructed sea views. The food is primarily landlubber fare, and I always have difficulty choosing between the spicy beef noodles and cordon-blue-style “cheese pork” (the rosemary chicken is also good), so I usually get my wife to order the one I don’t and then I eat hers too. Set meals are just NT$250. There are three tasty specialty items made with locally harvested seaweed, a peppery seaweed-and-egg soup, agar jelly, and dried eucheuma seaweed. Agar jelly, popular in Japan as a health food, is emerging as a local home-made specialty, sold at more and more northeast coast locations. It is a rite of passage, so to speak, for travelers to and through the Fulong area to buy the famed, flavorful, filling Fulong railway lunchboxes. The best are sold at shops before Fulong Railway Station; they were originally sold only from the platform to hungry passengers on trains stopped at the station. Each is about NT$60, and typically contains three or four pieces of meat, a soy-stewed egg and soy-stewed tofu, pickled cabbage, and rice.


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Café at Longdong Ocean Park

Longmen Riverside Camping Resort ( 龍門露營渡假基地 ) Add: 100, Xinglong St., Fulong Township, Gongliao District, New Taipei City ( 新北市貢寮區福隆村興隆街 100 號 ) Tel: (02) 2499-1791~3 Website: (in Chinese only) Leo Ocean Resort ( 理歐海洋溫泉渡假中心 ) Add: 36, Sec. 4, Binhai Rd., Toucheng Township, Yilan County ( 宜蘭縣頭城鎮濱海路 4 段 36 號 ) Tel: (03) 978-0782 Website: Wushi Harbor Live Seafood Restaurant ( 烏石港活海鮮餐廳 ) Add: 31, Wushi Harbor Rd., Gangkou Borough, Toucheng Town, Yilan County ( 宜蘭縣頭城鎮港口里烏石港路 31 號 ) Tel: (03) 977-7972

English and Chinese Chen Chin-ying 陳錦營 Daxi Fishing Harbor 大溪漁港 Fullon Hotel Fulong 福容大飯店福隆 Fulong railway lunchbox 福隆火車便當 Guishan Island 龜山島 Jiaoxi 礁溪 John Kao 高建文 Lion's Kingdom Museum 河東堂獅子博物館 neritic squid 小卷 Seascape Café 海景咖啡廳 yashang 鴨賞


We Were Curious about this Place At Swallows’ Grottos in Taroko Gorge, one of the natural wonders of the world, Travel in Taiwan asked French tourists about their Taiwan travel experiences.

Luc and Annie

Travel in Taiwan: Which places in Taiwan have you visited so far? Luc: We have been to a lot of places already. In Taipei, we visited the National Palace Museum – very interesting, with many ancient treasures. We also enjoyed the hot springs in Beitou. We went to Yeliu on the north coast, and had a look at the peculiar rock formations. We’re now exploring Taroko Gorge, and have already walked the Shakadang Trail, which we liked a lot.

Julien, Remy, and Yannick Travel in Taiwan: How long are you staying in Taiwan? Yannick: Two weeks.

Travel in Taiwan: What do you think about the gorge? Annie: The views here are very impressive, really spectacular. The narrow and winding road through it must have been very difficult to build. Taroko Gorge is the most interesting of all the places we have visited in Taiwan so far!

Travel in Taiwan: What is your general impression of Taiwan?

Travel in Taiwan: Where have you been to so far? Julien: First Taipei, then we took a bus to Kenting [National Park] and then a train up to Hualien. We travel by bus and train.

Luc: Our travels in Taiwan have been a huge change for us, coming from France. The language, the landscapes, and the climate are all so different! The local people are very kind, and attentive to your needs. There are a lot of places we’d still like to visit, and we hope we can come back again in the future.

Highway through Taroko Gorge

Travel in Taiwan: What made you decide to come to Taiwan? Remy: We are currently studying in Osaka, Japan, so flying to Taiwan is cheap and convenient. We were just curious about this place. The weather is great and the landscapes awesome. Yannick: Sorry, we need to hurry now. We want to take the next Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus to another stop in Taroko Gorge. See ya! Travel in Taiwan



Meinong Strong Hakka Culture, Bucolic Beauty

Traditional Hak k a residence

Meinong’s East Gate

Jin Xing Shop owners


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Farmers har vesting wild lotus


Text: Rick Charette

Photos: Maggie Song, Vision Int'l

Sitting on a small plain, a patchwork quilt of well-tended farm plots with a heritage settlement at its center, mountains looking down from three sides, Meinong is an old Hakka-culture enclave that is today a tourist favorite.

Oilpaper umbrellas Meinong k .c. s. Umbrella

Meinong Hak k a Culture Museum

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“Top Ten Tourist Towns” were declared early last year, chosen with the help of public voting. Looking at the list, I quickly settled on Meinong as my favorite. In the summer I was contracted by National Geographic to cover the towns, and was not surprised when the photographer sent over from the U.S., the well-known Mike Yamashita, mentioned that Meinong was one of the winners that had made an especially favorable impression on him. Special exhibits of Mike’s Taiwan photos were later staged in U.S. cities. Here’s a shortlist of what visitors like so much about the place: the lovely, quiet farmland, with an in-close, misttopped mountain backdrop; thriving old-time culture of the hardy Hakka people, in a community brimming with heritage architecture and the aromas of the distinctive Hakka cuisine; relics of the old, now defunct tobacco industry – last century, Meinong was Taiwan’s richest production area; exquisite handcrafted oil-paper umbrellas and inviting studios; wonderful, leisurely biking jaunts, through sleepy settlement and into the country. Located in southwest Taiwan, last year Meinong was eaten up by the broad-shouldered city of Kaohsiung, becoming Meinong District. In this article, however, I’ll do as everyone else in Taiwan still does and call it a town.

Bicycling I promise that an already guaranteed good time will be pleasureenhanced if you rent a bike to jaunt about. The places you’ll want to visit are spread out over the valley f loor. Driving and scooter rentals are two other options; public transportation is not. There are seven color-coded bike routes, totaling 40 km, with themes including “folk culture,” “religion,” “historical relics,” and “country.” Quality bikes are available for NT$80


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daily from shops by the bus station, and at the attractive visitor information center at 789 Tai’an Road, on the south side of Zhongzheng Lake, the local irrigation-water source, which is ringed by parkland and viewing platforms.

Yong’an Old Street The Hakka take great pride in their traditions, and these are on vivid display along Yong’an Old Street, which abounds with old shops/residences, shrines, and other representative structures. At No. 177 is the rustic, open-front Jin Xing Shop, opened in 1929, where master tailor Shie Jing Lai and his wife craft tunics and other traditional Hakka clothing – all bright, lovely, and popular with tourists. Shie loves to talk about the rich symbolism incorporated into the old-style blue-dye attire. One example: The wide-band collar of men’s tunics symbolizes the shape of the classic Hakka fortified village. At one end of Yong’an is the tall East Gate, telling of a time when watchtowers helped protect against bandits, rebels, marauders from rival ethnic groups, indigenous warriors and, sometimes, government troops, always poorly paid and almost always unwelcome. Beside is Meinong’s original Earth God shrine, built when this riverfront area was opened. Such protective shrines dot the area, as do jingzi ting or “respect writing pavilions,” miniature pavilions where any paper with writing was ritually burned and sent back to heaven by educationvenerating Hakka, for it was heaven that had given the miracle of paper and written character to humankind in the first place.

Oilpaper Umbrellas Taiwan’s exquisite handcrafted oilpaper umbrellas are popular souvenir purchases, and Meinong has long been the mecca of production. Featuring an intricate bamboo frame and lacquered translucent paper, each is a distinctive

work of art painted with bold, colorful designs. The secret of the art was brought from mainland China’s Guangdong Province in the early 20th century.

Featuring an intricate bamboo frame and lacquered translucent paper, each oilpaper umbrella is a distinctive work of art painted with bold, colorful designs The family is all-important to the Hakka, and an umbrella’s circular perfection symbolizes the “perfection” of family togetherness. They are traditional wedding gifts, for the pronunciation of “paper,” zhi , resembles that for “sons,” zi , thus promoting fecundity. Meinong has two tourist-oriented sales centers. I recommend Yuan Xiang Yuan Cultural Village, an attractive mall which has live demonstrations. I specially recommend Meinong k.c.s. Umbrella, however, for a view into Meinong’s non-tourist traditions. This small workshop, run by a charming, Meinong History Meinong was settled by members of the Hakka ethnic community in 1736. Taiwan Hakka today number about four million, about 15% of the country’s population. Meinong itself is about 90% Hakka. The group has close-knit communities, arising in large part as a result of discrimination and oppression in imperial times. The term “Hakka” in fact means “guest people.” Rarely enjoying secure title to land, they often settled in marginal areas – notably in mountains and foothills – and placed great emphasis on education (i.e., a non-material, highly mobile form of wealth generation). Meinong was long famed for producing an unusually high number of imperial scholars and, in modern times, PhDs.

MEINONG gentle couple, Lin Rong-jun and Wu Jian-ying, has a nationwide reputation. It’s in the country just outside town in the rear of the Lin clan’s venerable courtyard residence; the couple inherited the business from Lin’s father. They’ll make your umbrella to order, and you can also DIY-decorate your own mini-umbrella for a few hundred NT dollars.

Tobacco Between the late 1930s and 2002, Meinong was Taiwan’s tobacco-growing king. After Taiwan’s 2002 WTO entry the industry quickly withered and died. Many of the curing barns are now used as storage sheds, and a few have been turned into pottery studios. Be sure to visit the Meinong Hakka Culture Museum. This pleasant facility sits in open farm country, with big views all about. Its shape evokes Meinong’s tobacco barns, and there is a full-scale mock-up inside. There are displays on all aspects of local culture and history; some have English, and there are free Englishaudio guides as well as English tours (with advance booking).

Hakka Cuisine

Traditionally, isolated Hakka communities, often in the hills, grew their own food, with few fresh vegetables available during cool winters. Preserved meats and pickled vegetables were thus common. The culinary style is characterized by an especially sensitive way of combining only the freshest of crisp vegetables, when available. These are chopped and combined in myriad manners and stir-fried lightly to evince the most delicate flavors. The heavy use of garlic, oils, and spices is avoided.

The culinary style of the Hakka is characterized by an especially sensitive way of combining only the freshest of crisp vegetables The frugal Hakka have a dish for all animal parts; for example, pig’s intestine with ginger shreds is a favorite. The heavy labor of both men and women in mine, forest, and oft-marginal field – places of traditional Hakka industries – led to substantial salt loss, leading to extra-salty dishes. Most restaurants these days hold back, however. Be sure to try the wild lotus, a local specialty, which many locals report plucking from Zhongzheng Lake when kids. In lakearea farms you’ll see workers submerged in water up to chest and neck.

There are a number of good local Hakka-cuisine restaurants, but I especially like Meinong Traditional Hakka Cuisine, home to friendly staff, tasty, hearty, inexpensive food, and intriguing antiques sourced from valley farmsteads.

Traditional Hakka Three-sided Courtyard Residences You’ll come across many old-style residences, even in the town. The semi-enclosed courtyard style is most common, with a single main entrance and high exterior walls to enable defense. To the courtyard’s center-rear is the ancestral altar. True Hakka residences have white brick and black tile; red brick/tile indicates influence by Taiwan’s Han Chinese majority. Other Hakka features are a door-top house name and three-sectioned walls with white-painted mud brick on top, earthenware tiles in the middle, and round stones at bottom. The white represents the older generation’s white hair, the red-tint earthenware symbolizes the hard-working middle generation’s blood (sweat and tears), and the stones represent the hope for many children.

Getting There High Speed Rail, regular railway, and Kaohsiung Metro services converge at Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Station. Kaohsiung Bus Co. ( coaches to Meinong can be caught outside the station; 13 stop here daily, 8:20 am to 8:20 pm (NT$148 one-way; 90 minutes).

English and Chinese East Gate 東門 Hakka 客家人 jingzi ting 敬字亭 Lin Rong-jun 林榮君 Meinong 美濃 Shie Jing Lai 謝景來 Tai’ an Road 泰安路 wild lotus 野蓮 Wu Jian-ying 吳劍瑛 Yong’ an Old Street 永安老街 zhi (paper) 紙 Zhongzheng Lake 中正湖 zi (child) 子

Jin Xing Shop ( 錦興行 ) Add: 177, Yong'an Rd., Meinong District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市美濃區永安路 177 號 ) Tel: (07) 681-1191 Yuan Xiang Yuan Cultural Village ( 原鄉緣文化村 ) Add:147, Sec. 1, Zhongxing Rd., Meinong District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市美濃區中興路一段 147 號 ) Tel: (07) 681-0888 Website: (in Chinese only) Meinong k.c.s. Umbrella ( 廣進勝紙傘 ) Add: 47, Minquan Rd., Meinong District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市美濃區民權路 47 號 ) Tel: (07) 681-3247 Website: (in Chinese only) Meinong Hakka Culture Museum ( 美濃客家文物館 ) Add: 49-3, Minzu Rd., Meinong District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市美濃區民族路 49-3 號 ) Tel: (07) 681-8338 Meinong Traditional Hakka Cuisine ( 美濃古老客家菜 ) Add: 362-5, Sec. 1, Zhongshan Rd., Meinong District, Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市美濃區中山路一段 362-5 號 ) Tel: (07) 681-1156

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Colorful Balloons Paint the East Rift Valley Text: Owain Mckimm

Photos: Maggie Song

For more than two months each summer the Luye Highland, north of Taitung City, is the venue for a marvelous event featuring colorful hot-air balloons, some of which have amazingly creative shapes.

It’s five

in the morning, and the sun is just coming up over Taitung County’s Luye Highland (Luye Gaotai), in Taiwan’s mesmerizing East Rift Valley. With the Central Mountain Range to the west and the Coastal Mountain Range to the east, the tableland provides stunning views along the Beinan River system, the river’s many tributaries giving rise to a patchwork of river terraces laid out in lush fruit fields and tea plantations. At over 350 meters above sea level, the Luye Highland has, for many years, been a popular destination for paragliders, who come to the expansive grassy meadow with its sloping south-facing hillside to pursue their passion. Since 2011, however, the site has also been the launch pad for a grander, more romantic means of flying – the hot-air balloon. Just as dawn breaks over the plateau, a single small, black helium balloon is released into the sky to test the winds. Hundreds of pairs of eyes follow it as it rises at a slight angle, nudged to one side by a light breeze. Conditions are deemed favorable, and the hotair balloons are prepped to fly. Ten are laid out on the grass and, one by one, are slowly inflated with air until, within minutes it seems, they stand proudly, gracefully upright, swaying in the breeze. As we clamber into the wicker basket of one for a scheduled ballooning jaunt, our vessel struggles against its tethers as if impatient to get off the ground. “Are you ready to go up?” our pilot, Edward Oordt from the Netherlands, asks us, and with an earsplitting blast from the burner we’re hoisted into the sky.


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Ballons tak ing to the sk y

T he balloon festival is a fun event


From a distance they are tranquil giants, like icebergs floating in the water. But up close, the roars of their burners betray their frustration. They are tethered beasts yearning to be free



Baloon pilot Edward Oordt from the Netherlands

While for many

the attraction of ballooning might be the serenity, floating engineless above the clouds, for Oordt, who sports a fantastic handlebar moustache, it’s the sense of unpredictability. “In a balloon there’s always excitement. Twenty-five years ago I was flying planes, and in a plane you just go from airport to airport, from A to B. In a balloon, it’s always different. Sometimes the weather can change very quickly, or if you’re flying over woods or over a city, finding a place to land can be very challenging.” It’s also surprising just how big the balloons are. The one we’re flying in has, according to Oordt, a volume of 133,000 cubic feet, and though it’s filled with nothing but hot air the

force the balloon exerts is palpably immense. Eight of the ten balloons featured today are tethered to giant concrete dolosse in order to keep them from making a getaway, and will carry groups of four to a height of 50 meters before returning to the ground. From a distance they are tranquil giants, like icebergs floating in the water. But up close, the roars of their burners betray their frustration. They are tethered beasts yearning to be free. Two of the ten balloons, however, are to be let off the leash. In previous years, only tethering was allowed at the festival, but this year, for the first time, free-flying trips are being offered to groups at a price of NT$8,000 per person. Though it may seem expensive, all available free-flying sessions right through the festival have been booked. Travel in Taiwan


SPLENDID FESTIVALS Of the ten balloons on-site today, six are from the Netherlands, adorned in striking sponsorship messages in Dutch. There is also a checkered light-and-dark-green balloon from the UK, nicknamed the Hulk by the organizers; an American behemoth in the shape of a penguin wearing a cap and shades, a Hawaiian shirt, and a camera around its neck; and two of Taiwan’s very own, the pride of which is the heartshaped, strawberry-and-cream vessel with “Taiwan: The Heart of Asia” proudly stamped across its chest. This balloon is one of the lucky two that will take to the skies today, to soar north along the East Rift Valley until it finds terra firma in some as-yet-unknown destination. It lurches slowly back and forth in anticipation of take-off. And then finally it’s away, spinning slowly in mid-air until it catches the wind, then streaming forward with silent purpose over the crest of a hill and out of view.

Held over a period

of ten weeks in the summer (this year from June 1 to August 11), the Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta is now in its third year. “For over ten years we’ve held a Flying Season here at the Luye Plateau, focused mainly on paragliding,” says Chen Shu-hui, director-general of the Taitung County Tourism Department. “After the first few years many other areas in Taiwan started offering similar experiences, so we eventually decided that we needed something fresh to attract tourists to the area.” After deciding on hot-air balloons, and researching the logistics for such a project, it was discovered that Taiwan lacked both its own hot-air balloons and licensed pilots. Consequently, in the festival’s inaugural year the organizer were entirely dependent on the help of international pilots. “The first year we staged the festival, we had to return all the assets – balloons and pilots – and we realized that to lay a proper foundation for this event we’d need to set down our own roots. So we set into motion plans to train our own pilots and obtain our own balloons.” To date, seven Taiwanese have qualified as licensed pilots, gaining their certification from the US’s Federal Aviation Administration, and Taiwan now owns six


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balloons, purchased from Spanish balloon manufacturer Ultramagic. There are plans to purchase four more after this year’s festival. This rapid local development has not stopped international pilots from returning year after year to Taitung. “The landscape here is so varied – mountains, valleys, plains – and if you get high enough you can even see the Pacific over the Coastal Mountain Range,” says Chen. “It’s not just farmland and fields. To be able to see so much spectacular scenery in one flight is something quite rare.” The dramatic landscape is also something that keeps drawing visitors back too. Only 20% of visitors are locals from Taitung; the other 80% come from all over Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Japan. Some even come several times in the space of a few weeks. “This festival provides a special seasonal attraction in an already well-established beautiful spot,” Chen states. “The Luye Highland is already a picture in itself – but when you add in the balloons, it becomes really breathtaking.” This year over twenty different balloons are taking part in the festival, and different novelty balloons are being featured at different times. This is one advantage of the festival being so long – the constant variety. While most ballooning festivals last about a week, Taiwan’s is a marathon at over two months long. As most balloonists are hobbyists, Chen invites them to the festival for as much time as they can spare, often stretches of one or two weeks. “This way we get to show lots of different balloons in one two-month-plus period,” she says. “And as we invite different novelty balloons every year, no one visit is the same. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.”



“The landscape here is so varied – mountains, valleys, plains – and if you get high enough you can even see the Pacific over the Coastal Mountain Range”


This year

the festival features a balloon shaped like Darth Vader’s head, an Angry Bird, a giant cake, a baseball-cap-wearing turtle, and the aforementioned penguin. The classic, inverted-teardrop balloon is, though, for me, hard to top. As they rise and fall in the morning light, the orange glow of the burners only momentarily revealing the human presence within, they are simply ethereal – a natural phenomenon born of color and air. The balloons fly only at dawn and dusk – a limitation stemming from the fact that during the day the sun’s heat creates thermal updrafts that make ballooning dangerous. Two hundred tickets for the tethered flights go on sale daily at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m., with an extra two hundred going on sale after the first two hundred passengers have flown. A tethered flight usually lasts around ten minutes, and costs NT$500 per person. In addition, the area has eateries, food stalls, and funfair rides for the kids, and in the evenings there are barbecues and other events.

Getting There: From Taitung City, a taxi to the Luye Highland costs around NT$660 and takes around 35 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus to the site. Take the East Rift Valley Line to the terminal stop. For more info about the bus service, visit English and Chinese Beinan River 卑南溪 Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 Chen Shu-hui 陳淑慧 Coastal Mountain Range 海岸山脈 H ear t-shap e d b allo o n from Taiwan

East Rift Valley 花東縱谷 Luye Highland (Luye Gaotai) 鹿野高台 Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta 臺灣國際熱氣球嘉年華

Pe n g u i n - s h a p e d b a l l o o n from the U.S.

Classic inver ted-teardrop balloon

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Illustration: Fred Cheng

Woman in the House = Peace last issue of Travel in Taiwan we learned that the Chinese character for “man” is 男 (nan ), consisting of the two characters 田 (tian , field) and 力 (li , strength). Let’s now turn our attention to the character for “woman,” which is 女 (nu , or more correctly, nü ). It is said to have been derived from the image of a kneeling women, which when looking at its present form requires a stretch of the imagination.

In the

Pair 女 with 子 (zi ), the character for “child,” and you get 好 (hao ), the character for “good,” which most people will agree makes perfect sense, for a woman with a child is generally regarded as something good. The character 好 is, by the way, part of the most common greeting in the Chinese-speaking world, 你好 (ni hao ; lit. “you good”). If you place the common radical 宀 (mian ; roof ) over 女 you get the character 安 (an ; peace). A male chauvinist might smirk when learning this character, feeling confirmed in his belief that women should stay at home to bring peace in life. Others might instead say this character symbolizes that there is no peace without women in general. So what if you put a roof over a pig – that is, you put the radical 宀 over the character 豕 (shi , pig)? What is the meaning of the character you get? A pigpen? Or perhaps war, the opposite of peace? Answer: You get the character 家 (jia ), which means home. Some say that, in times past, having pigs and thus “wealth” under your roof made a home. A female chauvinist might smirk when learning this character, however, feeling confirmed in her belief that in many homes there is indeed a “pig” [man]...


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Taitung’s Tiehua Village


A Fine Place to Wind Down and Listen to Indigenous Music

Text: Owain Mckimm

Photos: Maggie Song

Taitung County is home to many a talented musician with indigenous background. Tiehua Village, in Taitung City, provides these musicians with a stage to perform and interact with visitors from afar. and the village comes alive. A cool breeze blows through, bringing a welcome respite from the fierce afternoon heat. Bats dart above our heads, silhouetted against the twilight. The cicadas in the trees across the way chirp rhythmically, their sound matched in sync with the bustle and chatter coming from the market that borders the village. Groups lay picnic blankets on the grass, order drinks from the bar, and sit back to soak in the evening. The clang of an iron bell rings out. A band starts to play.

Dusk falls,

Hosting live music from Wednesdays to Sundays, as well as a local food and


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handicrafts market on weekends, Tiehua Village is not, as its name might imply, a municipal entity. It is, however, the home of a small, distinct community, a gathering point for local musicians and artists, and a platform for them to perform in a city strangely lacking in live-music venues. “In Taitung there have always been a lot of talented composers and musicians, but it’s always lacked a good, stable performance venue where these musicians can play,” says Xiao Lu, the bassist in tonight’s summerjam performance. The east coast, and Taitung City/County in particular, is known as a hub of Taiwan’s indigenous culture. Seven of Taiwan’s

fourteen recognized indigenous tribes have a significant presence in the county, representing 15% of the area’s population – a substantial amount when you consider that Taiwanese aboriginals only make up 2% of the island’s entire population. “Here in Taitung, many of the musicians are indigenous people, and the music we write tends to reflect the special qualities of our tribes. Because of this, the musicians here, their music, and their opinions about music are very different from those in Taipei, and Tiehua Village has provided a place where the musical community can come together and develop our own perspective on music,” Xiao Lu adds.



Old Taitung Railway Station

Market at T iehua V illage


e h


on the site of old railway workers’ dormitories next to the former, now dilapidated, central station, Tiehua Village stands in the middle of the Taitung City like an enclosed bastion of bohemianism. Though Taitung, with its open sky, broad and uncluttered sidewalks, and relaxed coastal vibe, is a far cry from the congested urban headache that is Taipei, Tiehua Village nonetheless gives the impression of being an oasis of calm amidst chaotic bustle, an enclave of peace and love amongst the 24-hr convenience stores, coffee chains, and KTV complexes.

Built in

The village comprises a large grassy area, with one side bordered by a bar and two permanent shops – Good Buy and the Lovely Taitung Shop, which sell local produce and crafts. On the opposite side


Local musician playing the sa xophone

V illage manager Fong Cheng-fa

“Here in Taitung, many of the musicians are indigenous people, and the music we write tends to reflect the special qualities of our tribes” is a line of gazebos, which on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays shelter a local handicraft market, the Slow Bazaar. On the northeast side is a newly constructed small exhibition hall, where local sculptors and artists can display their work, while on the southeast side there is an outdoor stage area, and next to it an indoor venue where gigs are relocated if the weather turns. In accordance with the village’s go-with-the-flow approach, however, performances are often staged wherever the mood of the day dictates – on the grass, under the eaves of the shops, next to the bar. “For indigenous music, you don’t need many instruments or fancy equipment, just people together and a few drinks, and the singing starts,” says

a laughing Fong Cheng-fa, the village manager and a member of the Amis tribe. Fong epitomizes the spirit of Tiehua Village. Despite standing over six feet tall, being built like a small house, and having the hair of a seasoned mosher, he is remarkably polite and soft-spoken. “Around 70% of the bands that play here consist of local and/or indigenous musicians,” Fong says, “but it’s not just about the music. Here we have the local market, workshops, exhibitions, theater performances – we’re trying to get the whole community involved. This place is a sharing space. “Many people who come here ask why we haven’t got more indigenous artifacts or exhibitions, but we feel

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Building for indoor p er formances

that’s too old-fashioned, too much like a museum. We’re not like the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, with model villages and the like; we’re here to focus on modern indigenous culture.”

Wh ile th e village

is certainly not an anthropological museum, it has a definite feel of being a world apart from Taiwan’s dominant, Chinese-inf luenced culture – whether it be the hand-made indigenous crafts available in the shops, the bracelets and patterned bags on sale at the Slow Bazaar, or the millet wine f lowing at the bar. “For a lot of musicians, the fact that this place has a lot of indigenous color is very reassuring – it allows indigenous musicians to feel like they’re performing at home, and not feel so ill at ease,” Xiao Lu says. “If you were to ask us to perform this music somewhere else, I think we’d feel very different.” Many of Taiwan’s indigenous artists have developed a warm sense of familiarity with the village, and feel a special kinship. In June, Mandopop superstar A-Mei, a member of Taitung’s Puyuma tribe, played at the village along

Guitar player p er forming on stage

with mellowed-out rocker Chang Chenyue of the Amis, with stripped-down sets and ticket prices of just NT$500 (a fraction of their usual concert-ticket prices). While a few indigenous performers like A-Mei achieve national and even international fame, causing their music to become more mainstream, many of the local musicians still experiment with blurring the line between traditional and modern music. Songs are sung in the language of the musician’s tribe, and traditional melodies, ballads, and chants are mixed with rock, metal, and punk in a spirit of experimentation that, while it may not yield perfect results every time, is gradually making indigenous elements a mainstay of the area’s popular music scene. “For us personally, if we’re writing a modern song, it feels safer, more natural to include indigenous elements in some way,” says saxophonist Kabudayang, also from the Puyuma tribe. “It’s difficult to explain why. Perhaps it has something to do with this music being a part of our DNA – we hear it while we’re growing up, from when we’re very young. It’s like

v 36

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when African-Americans play the blues or when the British play punk rock; it’s not the same when others do it. It may be something to do with history, and indigenous music is also an accumulation of history, so including it has this feeling of being right.” But can such diverse musical traditions coexist in one song? “Indigenous music tends to be simpler, less aggrandized, less adorned with skill and technique than modern Western music,” Kabudayang says. “It very directly tells you a story. But the songs aren’t simply love ballads. There are songs that express anger, the warrior spirit, sadness, heartbreak, joy. The themes, in fact, are quite similar to those of Western music.” Xiao Lu adds, “Nowadays, a lot of young indigenous people are very skilled at mixing modern music and their own traditional songs. And the songs they write clearly have their roots in Taiwan. If we sing English songs, it’s clear that they’re not our own. But if we create songs with elements of indigenous music, they very clearly convey a unique Taiwanese identity.”






e INFO Tiehua Village ( 鐵花村 ) Add: 26, Lane 135, Xinsheng Rd., Taitung City ( 台東市新生路 135 巷 26 號 ) Tel: (089) 343-393 Website: See for details on upcoming performances (in Chinese only) Admission: Normal entry is NT$250 (including one drink). Tickets can be bought at the entrance. Opening Hours & Performance Times: Tiehua Bar, Good Buy, Lovely Taitung Shop: Tue-Sun 14:00-22:00 Slow Bazaar: Fri 18:00-22:00 / Sat-Sun 15:30-22:00 Performances: Wed-Sat 20:00-22:00 / Sun 17:00-18:00 Getting There: From Taipei, take a train to Taitung City. From Taitung Railway Station, then take a Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus to the Visitor Center stop – you can take either the East Coast Line or the East Rift Valley Line. Tiehua Village is a short walk down the road.

T iehua V illage in the evening

“Nowadays, a lot of young indigenous people are very skilled at mixing modern music and their own traditional songs. And the songs they write clearly have their roots in Taiwan”

English and Chinese A-Mei 阿妹 Amis tribe 阿美族 Chang Chen-yue 張震嶽 Fong Cheng-fa 豐政發 Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village 九族文化村 Good Buy 好的擺

Kabudayang 卡布達漾 Lovely Taitung Shop 台東好店 Puyuma tribe 卑南族 Slow Bazaar 慢市集 Taiwan Tourist Shuttle 台灣好行 Tiehua Village 鐵花村 Visitor Center 服務中心 Xiao Lu 小陸

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Riding the North Coast Line A Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus Trip from Tamsui to Keelung Text: Joe Henley

Photos: Sunny Su, Fred Cheng, North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area

Another issue of Travel in Taiwan , and once again I was on a backpack bus trip assignment. For those of you not yet in the know, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has set up numerous tourist-shuttle bus lines around the island, designed to make the highlights of any particular region more accessible for self-help travelers. Buses leave regularly from major public-transportation points throughout Taiwan, with schedules clearly posted and English signage pointing you in the right direction.

One of Ju Ming's famous Tai Chi sculptures

Baisha Bay Visitor Center

MRT Tamsui Station


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New 18 Kings Temple (Shimen Wedding Plaza)

Juming Museum

Jinshan Old Street

Yeliu Geopark

Keelung Railway Station (Visitor Center)


This time

I was taking the Crown Northern Coastline route, with six sites laid out by the Travel in Taiwan editorial team for me to seek out and explore. A sealed package was handed to me before the trip, much in the fashion of some black-and-white film noir spy thriller, and inside I found five silhouette images of landmarks I was to locate. Should I be successful, I was promised a bountiful night-market feast in the northern port city of Keelung at the end of the trip.

Stop I

Stop II

Stop III

After purchasing a one-day pass for just NT$100, I caught the first shuttle leaving from MRT Tamsui Station at 9 a.m. The first image in the package depicted a surfer riding a wave. Perusing the stops along the shuttle line, I saw that the bus drops people off at the Baisha Bay Visitor Center at Baishawan, or “White Sand Beach,” less than an hour’s ride from Tamsui. Baishawan is a good, if sometimes crowded (on weekends), spot to get some sun, and has warm, shallow water. It also has some fairly tame waves that are great for beginners to gain a bit of confidence their first time on a surf board. Luckily for me, I was able to locate the sole surf enthusiast out on the water this day, lazily bobbing up and down on the modest swells, waiting for the right wave to come along. Snapping a picture as proof of my find, it was back to the shuttle and on to locate the scene depicted in picture number two.

The second silhouette: a majestic archway. Not a lot to go on, but fortunately I didn't have to wait long to lay eyes on my architectural quarry. Just a few minutes from Baishawan, the next bus I took stopped at the Shimen Wedding Plaza, a collection of pristine white arches overlooking a calm bluewater bay. This is a very popular place for couples headed to the altar to take wedding photos. It also presents a perfect opportunity for playful editors to have a spot of fun with their writers, as the accompanying photo of yours truly sporting a white wedding veil prove.

Two down, four to go. This is where, sadly, I must confess to a bit of cheating. Silhouette three should have presented a challenge, but I had seen such an image before and immediately knew what it was. The silhouette was of one of the famous Tai Chi sculptures created by well-known Taiwanese artist Ju Ming, and the Juming Museum was two stops along on my route. The museum offers a walk through the artist’s full career, from many decades past to the present. Starting off as a woodcarver's apprentice in his mid-teens, Ju Ming had the courage to forego the predictable demand for copies of traditional temple carvings and choose his own artistic path, moving into abstract sculptures that would come to be celebrated by the worldwide artistic community. The exhibition of the museum that bears his name is 80 percent outdoors, so you can lounge about and enjoy the weather amidst approximately 3,000 of the great artist's works. After locating the specific Tai Chi sculpture shown in my silhouette package, one of many laid out across a small plateau overlooking the coastal town of Jinshan, I did my best to emulate the frozen movements of the black blocks of styrofoam locked in bronze, trying not to pull a hamstring in the process.

Sur fing at Baishawan

Baishawan is a good, if sometimes crowded, spot to get some sun, and has warm, shallow water

Wedding Plaz a arch

Juming Museum

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Stop IV

Stop V

Stop VI

Good times so far on the Crown Northern Coastline route, as expected, but then I saw the fourth silhouette, and feared this was to be a much greater challenge. It was like some kind of abstract painting crossed with a maniacal Rorschach test. Random happenstance plays a large role in many of my journeys to Taiwan’s corners, and Lady Fortune has smiled upon me many a time. This was to be one of those instances. I had an inkling the picture resembled some sort of featherless cooked fowl, and so when the bus arrived in the coastal town of Jinshan and stopped along Jinshan Old Street, I got out to explore the historic artery and its many eateries and food stalls. One place was more crowded than most. Jin Bao Li Duck is located right in front of Guang’an Temple, and it was here that the source of the silhouette suddenly appeared before me. This well-known restaurant has been serving juicy boiled duck since 1960, in front of a temple that is now over a century old. After snapping a picture with the owner holding up one of the restaurant’s signature birds, I was off again.

Home stretch. I pulled out the second-to-last silhouette and... what was it? It looked something like a bust of Nefertiti, but since there aren't any museums specializing in Egyptian artifacts nearby, I just assumed it must be a rock formation in Yeliu Geopark, the next stop along the route. Arriving at the park, I set out along the pathway laid out along the smooth, alien seaside landscape, which resembles the badland areas of North America. Beautiful seaurchin fossils are preserved in the rock, but they did not distract me from finding Nefertiti's Taiwan twin. When in doubt, follow the crowd, and indeed it led me to my prize: Queen's Head Rock. Posing for a quick picture with Her Royal Majesty, it was then back on the bus to seek out the final cryptic location.

It was now getting toward late afternoon, and the sheer process of elimination meant I was on the verge of locating my final silhouette source, for there only one stop left along the route, Keelung Railway Station. The silhouette rather resembled a temple entrance. But where is it that people in Taiwan prefer to go in the late afternoon? Yes, they pursue that great Taiwanese passion, food. I was sure I'd find what I was looking for at Keelung’s famed Miaokou Night Market, which runs down a couple of long, intersecting lanes not far from the city’s harbor. There you'll find food stalls with English signage advertising what each specializes in. The evening crowds get pretty thick, with local foodies and visitors from abroad keen to fill their bellies.

Queen’s Head Rock

At a duck restaurant in Jinshan

At Miaokou Night Market

Yeliu Geopark

Juic y b oiled duck


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Ding bian suo


In the midst of this gastronomic madness was, as my luck would have it, a temple – “Miaokou” means “temple mouth” – the archway of which bounded from my black-and-white printout and manifested itself before me. Sweet, sweet victory, and my reward followed forthwith: a feast fit for a hungry backpacker fresh from the north-coast trail. True to their word, my Travel in Taiwan companions carted me about to one food stall after another, treating me to ding bian suo (fish ball soup with rice noodles), a toasted bun filled with nutritious veggies appropriately dubbed the “nutritious sandwich,” a sweet, finely shaved passion-fruit ice concoction known as pao-pao ice, bite-sized round pieces of tempura, hong shao man geng (eel head soup cooked in Chinese medicine) and, finally, some almond ice jelly to draw the feeding frenzy to a close. It was a filling end to a fulfilling day riding the north coast on the Crown Northern Coastline shuttle.

Nutritious sandwich

宏祥旅行社_1-3_E_2013.01.pdf 1 2013/1/7 下午 05:33:42

Edison Travel Service specializes in Taiwan tours and offers cheaper hotel room rates and car rental services with drivers . Edison welcomes contact with other travel services around the world.

Pao -pao ice

Juming Museum ( 朱銘美術館 ) Add: 2, Xishihu, Jinshan District, New Taipei City ( 新北市金山區西勢湖 2 號 ) Tel: (02) 2498-9940 Website: Jin Bao Li Duck ( 金山金包里鴨肉 ) Add: 104, Jinbaoli St., Jinshan District, New Taipei City ( 新北市金山區金包里街 104 號 ) Tel: (02) 2498-1656 More info about the Crown Northern Coastline Route at:

Hong shao man geng


English and Chinese Baishawan 白沙灣 ding bian suo 鼎邊趖 Guang'an Temple 廣安宮 hong shao man geng 紅燒鰻羹 Jinshan (Old Street) 金山 ( 老街 ) Ju Ming 朱銘 Keelung 基隆 Miaokou Night Market 廟口夜市 pao-pao ice 泡泡冰 Queen's Head Rock 女王頭 Shimen Wedding Plaza 石門婚紗廣場 Tamsui 淡水 Yeliu Geopark 野柳地質公園

Almond ice jelly

Refreshing pao -pao ice!


In the

Simakusi Smangus A Charming Village Deep in the Mountains

Text: Cheryl Robbins

Photos: Simakusi Visitor Center

If you really want to get away from it all, deep, deep into the mountains, the Simakusi (Smangus) Community in Jianshi Township of Hsinchu County is where you will want to be. This small settlement is made up of fewer than 30 households and less than 200 people, mostly from the indigenous Atayal tribe. 42

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Atayal language, the village is referred to as Smangus. According to the elders of the tribe, Mangus was one of their ancestors, and the name Smangus was given to commemorate and honor him. Simakusi is the Chinese transliteration of the name. To make things even more confusing, the name Smangus actually refers to the mountain on which Simakusi is located, and other villages also located on this mountain may be referred to as Smangus as well. So, to avoid confusion, you might want to stick with the name Simakusi, as has been done in this article. Although Hsinchu County is not far from Taipei, visiting Simakusi is no day-trip. This is one of the more remote settlements in Taiwan, located at an elevation of about 1,500 meters above sea level. After getting off National Freeway No. 3 near Hsinchu City it is still a 60-kilometer, three-hour drive along winding mountain roads. The last 16 kilometers require almost an hour, as the road is narrow, with heartstopping hairpin turns. As the tops of several mountains come into view in the distance, you will feel that you are literally on top of the world. The road into and out of Simakusi was completed less than 20 years ago, in 1995. Before that, if the residents wanted to buy supplies or connect with the outside world they had to walk many hours and cross a river gorge. The residents have a close connection to the land, and have made the conscious choice to live here. The Atayal consider Ren’ai Township in Nantou County to be the place of origin of their tribe. As the population of the tribe expanded groups moved northward and eastward, including to Simakusi.


According to the Forestry Bureau, the second- and third-largest cypress trees in Taiwan are located close to Simakusi

Old c ypress tree

During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), the colonial authorities forced the people of Simakusi to move to another part of the township. After the Japanese left Taiwan the people returned to rebuild their homes, farms, and lives. Although life was hard at first, without a road to connect them to the outside, their priority was on reclaiming the place where their ancestors had once dwelled.

As Simakusi Millet har vest

Simakusi in the winter

is located high in the mountains, there is less worry about insect infestation, and homes can be built from wood. Walking through the village, you will see these rusticlooking buildings lined up in a row. The elementary school, which has only about a dozen students, looks very much like a log cabin. The residents have also built some traditional structures, including a watchtower and granaries. These are some of the elements that give Simakusi its charm.

All of the residents are involved in some aspect of tourism, and thus there are many opportunities to interact with them. In addition, this tight-knit community is working to preserve its traditional tribal culture. There are regularly scheduled tours of the village, and those leading these tours dress in traditional Atayal clothing. In the evenings there are gatherings at the local church, during which elders are invited to speak in the Atayal language, with translation into Chinese, and traditional Atayal songs along with more modern selections are performed by the youth of the village. There are several trails to hike here, the most popular being the one that leads to a group of nine very old cypress trees – “old� meaning thousands of years old. It is a walk of about 5.2 kilometers from the village to reach the trees. Most of the trail is fairly flat, but parts can be muddy, so shoes with good traction are recommended. Allow four to five hours to make it to the trees and back.


According to the Forestry Bureau, the second- and third-largest cypress trees in Taiwan are located close to Simakusi, measuring 20.5 meters and 19.7 meters in circumference, respectively. These trees were not discovered by accident, but rather through a long-term search by the residents. In 1991, a lin zhang (borough/neighborhood head) visited the Baling area of Fuxing Township in Taoyuan County and witnessed how the discovery of old trees there had increased tourism. That night he dreamt that there were sacred trees in Simakusi, and he remembered a story told to him by the elders about a place with big trees. Upon his return to the village he inspired the residents to help him search, and after three months they found the place the elders had described. Even if you do not have the time or the stamina to finish this trail, any part that you do see will be spectacular. The trail features wooden bridges, small waterfalls, bamboo thickets, and a forest of trees that steadily increase in size as you near the end. There are also a couple of places where there have been landslides, startling reminders of Mother Nature’s sometimes fickle disposition. Thus, although this trail is not difficult, do pay attention to the surroundings and do not attempt the hike if there has recently been severe weather in the area.

To be able

to enjoy all of the attractions of Simakusi, it is necessary to stay overnight. If you do so, you will discover the unique model for tourism developed by the residents of the village. Reservations for accommodation and


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food are all made through a single window, the Simakusi (Smangus) Visitor Center. This center is operated and managed by the village’s Presbyterian Church. The money that is brought into the community through its tourism activities is distributed among all of the households, so that everyone in the community benefits. The accommodation is somewhat rudimentary, and more dormitory-style than homestay. Rates start at NT$1,600 for a two-person room with shared bathroom. There is a slightly more upscale four-person room with ownbathroom option (NT$5,000). Since it is mostly groups that come here, the only restaurant in the village has been set up to serve round-table groups. Those traveling with less than seven persons pay NT$250 per person for lunch or dinner. Breakfast is included in the room rate. The fare is mostly Chinese; thus, those wanting to try Atayal specialties may be a bit disappointed. The community maintains a website with all of the basic tourism information about the village, including maps and the process for making reservations (www. There is currently only a Chinese version, so you will need the assistance of a Chinese speaker.

Getting There There is no public bus service to Simakusi, so you will need to have your own transportation. From National Freeway No. 3, exit at Zhulin (toward Zhudong and Chonglin) and connect to County Road No. 120. After connecting to County Road No. 60 you will head into the mountains, passing the villages of Naluo, Tianpu, and Xiuluan. At Xiuluan you will come to a police checkpoint. You must stop here to fill out a simple form and show some identification, such as a passport or ARC (Alien Resident Certificate). This enables the police to make sure that everyone that heads into the mountains from here is accounted for. Just before Taigang Village, there will be a fork. Take the left fork toward Simakusi. The visitor center in Simakusi can also arrange transport between the village and HSR Hsinchu Station/Hsinchu Railway Station (charges are made per vehicle; see contact info below).

Traditional wooden house Simakusi (Smangus) Visitor Center Add: 2, Simakusi, Lin 14, Yufeng Village, Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County ( 新竹縣尖石鄉玉峰村 14 鄰司馬庫斯 2 號 ) Tel: (03) 584-7688; 0928-804-983 Hours: (03) 584-7688; 0928-804-983 Website: (in Chinese only) English and Chinese Atayal tribe 泰雅族 Baling 巴陵 Fuxing Township 復興鄉 Jianshi Township 尖石鄉 lin 鄰 lin zhang 鄰長 Naluo 那羅 Ren'ai Township 仁愛鄉 Smangus 司馬庫斯 Taigang 泰崗 Tianpu 田埔 Xiuluan 秀巒 Zhulin 竹林


Text: Mark Caltonhill

Photos: Sting Chen

The fire dragon fruit is a refreshing, nutritious, and healthful fruit that is available in Taiwan throughout the year. The fruit of a cactus plant, it is cultivated in areas with lots of sunshine and dry soil.


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Dragon fruit farme r Zhang L ai -t ian and his wi fe Hong Su - lian

DRAGON FRUIT The pitahaya is adapted to hot, dry climates, and so thrives in areas of exposed, low-altitude soils, which are common around Taiwan’s coastline

Red -f lesh dragon fruit

The next time

you go for a check-up for diabetes, high blood pressure, or constipation in Taiwan, don’t be surprised if the doctor recommends eating “fire dragon fruit” (huo long guo). Pitahaya – the fruit’s official name – is rich in vitamin C and phytoalbumin antioxidants, and its seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fruit has a mild flavor, and serves as a refreshing snack on a summer day. Introduced from Central America to Asia by European settlers, dragon fruit were possibly brought to Taiwan as early as the 17th century by Dutch colonists. Nevertheless, it is only over the last few decades that they have exploded in popularity with both farmers and consumers, as well as, more recently, with doctors. Like other members of the cactus family, the pitahaya is adapted to hot, dry climates, and so thrives in areas of exposed, low-altitude soils, which are common around Taiwan’s coastline.

Har vesting the fruit

Like many related species, it grows yearround, alternating between extending its green, photosynthesizing stems and producing flowers and then fruit. These vegetative/reproductive phases repeat up to six times per year, producing six harvests, meaning the fruit is available in markets at almost all times.

County not far from the coast, and is owned and operated by Zhang Lai-tian and his wife Hong Su-lian, who provide visitors with a warm welcome and an informative tour. Moreover, since Zhang worked as a chef for 40 years before taking up farming, a visit ends with a feast of delicious homecooked dishes.

Rather than

“I planted these dragon-fruit plants more than a decade ago,” says Zhang (in Mandarin; visitors should make sure to have a speaker of Chinese in their group). “They’ve been producing fruit every couple of months since they were half a year old. It takes about 45 days from flowering for the fruit to develop. When they’re not flowering or fruiting, their stems are growing; and although most people don’t know it, you can eat those too. They are good for stomach problems, and taste a bit like seaweed.”

simply picking up this healthy food in a market, however, it is more interesting, more fun, and certainly more educational to visit one of the country’s growing number of leisure farms. Local farmers teach visitors about the fruit’s characteristics, the processes involved in its production, and the labor involved in harvesting it, and then invite them to relax over some tasty dragon-fruit dishes. Make sure, of course, to call ahead to confirm that the fruit is in season. One such destination, near Taipei City and perfect for a half-day outing, is Xiang Hao Farm. It is near Xinpo in Taoyuan

“Women on a diet should try the fruit with a little salt,” Hong suggests, adding that “My husband’s original recipe for a dragon-fruit stem delicacy won second

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Dragon fruit f lower

place at a cooking competition in Taipei’s Grand Hotel a few years back.” Zhang likes to eat them with a little wasabi and thick soy sauce, whereas Hong prefers them chilled on ice in the summer months. Another part of the plant rarely eaten by non-growers is the flower, Hong says. These long tendrils, up to 10 centimeters in length, can be infused as a tea, added to stews, or even deep-fried.

Rip e dragon fruit

off with a sit-down meal starring a wide range of vegetarian dishes. Some of these are prepared by Zhang, donning his chef’s hat, but visitors are encouraged to cook too, using the half-dozen open clay ovens erected near the homestead. If visitors wish to cook meat, they must mention this in advance, since not only is Zhang a vegetarian, but he also spent his four decades as a chef cooking in Yiguandao restaurants. Yiguandao is a syncretic religion, drawing on elements of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, and there are many Yiguandao vegetarian restaurants around the island, known for quality. Near the end of their working lives as a cook and a beautician, and already with grown children, Zhang and Hong obtained this land and, instead of heading into a quiet retirement playing with their grandchildren, found themselves embarking on a new career as fruit farmers.

Dragon fruit stems with wasabi

A variety

of itineraries are offered to visitors: from simple pick-your-own produce experiences featuring a Zhang and Hong tag-team introduction to the culinary and health features of the fruit (produce paid for by weight), to full tours of the farm, including its other crops – among them passion fruit, lemons, lotus (the flowers of which are admired and seeds and other parts of which can be eaten), and roselle, with flowers that can be used to make hibiscus tea – to opportunities to learn the cultivation and harvesting technicalities, all rounded


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“The soil in this strip of coastal land is well-drained,” Zhang says. “This suits cacti like the dragon-fruit plant. In addition, the land is flat and strong winds are common, which prevents moisture building up.” The only exception is at the back of his property, where trees provide shelter from both sun and wind, and where he grows roselle. This also means that irrigation is light; Zhang hadn’t watered his crop in three months. In fact, over-watering is a danger to all cacti, and is one of the main

Red-f lesh dragon fruit

reasons why people often fail to produce healthy dragon fruit at home, he says. It is a relatively easy plant to grow, and can be started simply by immersing a piece of stem in wet soil. Since few insects damage dragon fruit, no spraying with pesticides is needed. This makes it an attractive crop for the couple, and also accords with their religious belief to not take life. Similarly, Zhang says that it is acceptable for squirrels and birds to eat the fruit: “They get hungry too.” Does this make their farm organic? “Well, we have not registered for certification, so cannot openly claim our fruit is organic,” says Hong. “In any case, what we are focused on is producing healthy and good-tasting fruit.”

“In any case, what we are focused on is producing healthy and good-tasting fruit.”


Two main

varieties are grown here. Both have bright pink or red “fiery” skins, which are inedible, while inside, one has white f lesh and the other red. “The white-f leshed variety is easier to grow because its f lowers are more likely to produce fruit,” Zhang says. This might be the result of pollination, since some varieties are capable of selffertilization, while others require crosspollination, aided by bees and perhaps even moths and bats. Nevertheless, it is the red-fleshed pitahaya that the couple prefers, as do those touting the pitahaya’s medical benefits. It has higher doses not only of

vitamin C and almost no saturated fat, but perhaps also of anti-oxidants, those prized chemicals, which devotees claim make pitahaya a “super fruit.” These are credited with a wide range of health benefits, from preventing hardening of arteries, and so lowering blood pressure and preventing heart attacks, to removing free radicals and slowing aging. Some even claim it inhibits the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and can help improve eyesight. Whatever the truth of these claims, dragon fruit is, ultimately, a foodstuff. At the end of their tour, visitors to Xiang Hao Farm sample plates of both white and red fruit, freshly sliced by Zhang,

Xiang Hao Farm ( 翔豪農場 ) Add: 37, Neighborhood 11, Tajiao Village, Guanyin Township, Taoyuan County ( 桃園縣觀音鄉塔腳村 11 鄰 37 號 ) Tel: 0922-586-339 / 0975-402-921 Getting there: Take a train to Zhongli Station, transfer to Taoyuan bus 5042 and get off at Xinpo ( 新坡 ) bus stop. Visitors are welcome on weekends but should call in advance to arrange pickup from Xinpo.

and try Hong’s delicious freshly squeezed dragon-and-passion-fruit cocktail, sweetened with a little honey. The couple also cooperates with a local factory to combine red-fleshed pitahaya with milk to make dragon fruit ice-cream, a Taoyuan specialty. Now there’s a medicine that even children will be keen to take dose after dose of.

Dragon fruit ice cream and juice

English and Chinese fire dragon fruit 火龍果 Hong Su-lian 洪素蓮 Xinpo 新坡 Yiguandao 一貫道 Zhang Lai-tian 張來添 Zhongli 中壢

The Most Popular Ice Shop in Taiwan Selling More than 1,000 Portions a Day

ing to Taiwan, visiting For many tourists com ice a must. Eating mango Smoothie House is happy. ne ryo eve kes ma simply is a joy and

Mango ice is one of the most popular refreshing foods during the summer months in Taiwan. Try the mixed mango shaved ice, made with fresh mango, strawberry, and kiwi, a sublime combination of ice and superb fruit flavor! This is the best-selling item on the menu.

Smoothie on Facebook: Colorful, Sweet, and Delicious The ice treats of Smoothie House are made with fragrant aiwen mango cultivated in Taiwan. This type of mango has a firm texture and is very juicy. The fruit meat melts in your mouth and creates an amazing sweet and sour sensation. No one seems to be able to resist this unbelievable treat.

1F, 15 Yongkang St., Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2341-8555 2F, 15 Yongkang St., Da'an District, Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2395-8770 Taipei University Shop: 82 Guoxue St., Sanxia District, New Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2672-5078 Longmen Shop: 52 Guo’ai St., Sanchong District, New Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2972-0758 Beitou Shop: 294 Zhonghe St., Beitou District, Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2894-5511

Smoothie House Chang'an Branch ~ Breakfast Shop Add: 55 Chang'an W. Rd., Taipei City Tel: +886-2-2552-3250 Travel in Taiwan


Groups are welcome. Looking for cooperating travel agencies and representatives Contact:


ing a Blast v a H d n a n w Cooling Do ater Park y Su in a Local W Song , Sunn

sleepy train full of T R M n a n O ecause ing. n o d oubt b ursday morn — h e T k a a w n a o . It 's 8 a.m riter is wide ark! ne young w o , rs te u to a water p m y a w com is h n ly person o he is the on

co Text : Paul Ja

b Naylor

Photos: Mag


I am

going to Formosa Fun Coast in the Bali District of New Taipei City, one of the largest and, I hope, the most exciting water parks in Taiwan. I am not to be alone; some friends hop on as the train runs through its stops. We get off at MRT Guandu Station and transfer to bus R22 (Red 22), which has the water park as its terminal station. Mt. Guanyin comes into view as we cross Guandu Bridge over the Tamsui River, and we then follow the highway along the river’s left side to the coast. This really has the feel of a grand adventure! We spot a large array of twisting, spaghetti-like tubes standing out against the skyline; this is the Formosa Fun Coast water park. In high season (July and August) the park attracts 3,000 people on weekdays, and up to 7,000


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per day on weekends. We have come early to avoid the crowds, but as we pass through the turnstiles the air is already filled with the sounds of splashing, laughter, and excitement. Changed into our swimwear, our first stop is the UFO Expedition. This year, in a poll of water-park users, UFO Expedition was voted Taiwan's best ride. We have high expectations and, climbing the 20-meterhigh staircase, a few nerves. Each flying-saucer-like inflatable holds up to five people, so however scary this is going to be, we are all in it together.... We get off to a very fast start, coasting up and down the sides of the wide slide like skateboarders on a half-pipe. Thoroughly soaked by the intermittent screens


of water, we enter a tunnel and the lights go out. Disoriented by the dark and the spinning of our saucer, we could well be traveling blind through outer space! We fly out of the tunnel and off the end of the slide – for a moment it is really a flying saucer! – and land in a plunge pool with a splash. Could there be a more exciting 30 seconds?! Invigorated by the UFO Expedition, we battle across the Seattle Floating Bridge, an American Gladiators-style assault course of floating round and cylindrical pads. A short stretch of swimming and a quick march up some stairs brings us to the Tarzan Jump, a single rope swing dangling 5 meters above a deep plunge pool. Next we head to the Journey of Sky Pond, the longest water slide in Southeast Asia. After climbing into our pink number 8-shaped inflatable, we are propelled down a twisty-turny slide and land in the first of five “sky ponds,” all suspended above the ground. The whims of the current – and the slide attendants – dictate our crash course from one pond to the next. At 400 meters long, this is a real journey, and when we are not busy handling the buffeting against the sides of the slide

or overturning in the sky ponds, we catch some glorious views of Mt. Guanyin and the ocean in the distance.

After lunch

– Formosa Fun Coast has a wide array of eateries, serving everything from burgers and fries to Taiwanese, Korean, and Italian specialties – we feel it is time for something a little less active. The Amazon River Voyage sounds like a safe bet. With one rubber ring each, we drift sedately here and there, following the river's winding course. To our left and right we see children splashing around in the Madagascar Adventure. While children under 120cm cannot go on the big slides, there are plenty of child-friendly play areas. Each space is flanked with several fun water cannons and, on top of the climbing frames and small slides, is a large bucket, which slowly fills with water and which at any given moment can overturn, soaking everyone within a 10-meter radius! Feeling a sense of complete relaxation, my eyes are almost closed when Joanne, a friend who is usually glamorously demure, decides to start a

el a nd off of the tu n n t u o ly f e W nd in a slide a nd la e th f o d n e the s h. wit h a spla l o o p e g n plu Travel in Taiwan



water fight. The peace and calm of the Amazon River is broken, and a battle royale ensues... We leave our rubber rings to continue down the river on their own, and bound off to catch some surf at the Formosa Fun Coast. The wave machine is turned on and the waves, gently lapping the sandy shore of the artificial beach, quickly turn into large swells, almost sweeping me off my feet as we walk into the water. After a short and restful sunbath on the beach, we head off to find our next thrill, Aladdin's Flying Carpet. Laying on my belly, gripping the handholds of my foam “carpet,” I fly head-first down the steepest slide of the day. This slide is covered, but a sea of twinkling stars above – an Arabian Night? – gives off just enough light to help me see that I am traveling very fast indeed, my carpet zipping up and down the walls of the slide. Suddenly, a bright light, and a big splash. Approaching our last slide of the day, the Bermuda Triangle, we all agree that Aladdin's Flying Carpet has been the most thrilling so far. At the stairs, we have three choices: Mount one flight for The Twister, or go right up to the top for the

Extreme FreeFall Slide. I think you can guess which one we opt for. “This is not very extreme,” I say to myself, getting off to a slow start. Then I look past my feet and see, with horror, that the slide is about to run out. Plunging downwards an 80-degree angle, I can do nothing but close my eyes and scream! I am deposited into the plunge pool a shaking wreck. I get out and go straight back up to the top. The feeling of sheer terror as I see the end of the slide approaching does not disappear the second time round. Five seconds of near zero-G force later and I am back in the plunge pool. Up to the top again; certainly, and inadvertently, we have saved the best till last! After September, the fun does not stop at Formosa Fun Coast even though the slides are closed. Instead, the Tang Spa offers some winter warmth and relaxation. Decorated in the style of the Tang Dynasty, the 4000m2 spa-hotel-restaurant complex boasts a wide range of outdoor pools as well as saunas, water jets to treat muscle pain, and private baths. If you fancy playing at Adam and Eve pre-temptation there is also a nude spa.

an ownwa rds Plu nging d do ng le, I ca n 80 -deg ree a yes a nd t close my e u b g in th o n sc rea m!


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Getting There To get to the Formosa Fun Coast water park, take bus no. 13 or Red No. 22 from MRT Guandu Station. If self-driving, the park is easy to find, just off Highway No. 15 (Zhongshan Road) a little west of the raised Expressway No. 64. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in June and September, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in July and August, except weekends, when it closes at 10 p.m. General admission is NT$$650 (NT$$550 for children). If you arrive after 5 p.m. you pay only NT$450 (NT$360).

Other Water Parks in Taiwan Formosa Fun Coast is not the only water park in Taiwan. Cooling water fun also awaits at Leofoo Village’s Leofoo Water Park in Hsinchu County, at Lihpao Land’s Mala Bay Water World in Taichung City, and at Janfusun Fancyworld’s Vicky the Viking water park in Yunlin County. Leofoo Water Park is located next to Leofoo Village Theme Park and Leofoo Resort Guanshi. It has a distinct Greek style, and features a variety of water slides. There are a total of 16 water attractions, including eight water rides with unique shapes, a pool with man-made waves, a water cannon area, a fountain area, a sand area, and a family water-play area. Mala Bay is the largest water park in Taiwan. It features a variety of water attractions, including a huge open-air artificial wave pool, a water-fun house, hydro slides, children's pools, the Lazy River, and much more. Earlier this year, the Vicky the Viking Pirate Village opened at Janfusun Fancyworld amusement park. The village features multiple amusement facilities, such as the Magical Mirror Maze, the Vicky Lazy River, and Viking Waves. There is also a Pirate Stomp Show performed by professional Taiwanese and foreign dancers, exclusive Vicky the Viking merchandise, and pirate-themed meals.

Formosa Fun Coast ( 八仙海岸水上樂園 ) Add: 1-6, Xiaguzi, Xiagu Borough, Bali District, New Taipei City ( 新北市八里區下罟里下罟子 1-6 號 ) Tel: (02) 2610-5200 Website: (in Chinese) Leofoo Water Park ( 六福水樂園 ) Add: 60, Gongzigou, Ren’an Borough, Guanxi Township, Hsinchu County ( 新竹縣關西鎮仁安里拱子溝 60 號 ) Tel: (03) 547-5665 Website: Mala Bay ( 馬拉灣 ) Add: 8, Furong Rd., Houli District, Taichung City ( 台中市后里區福容路 8 號 ) Tel: (04) 2558-2459 Website: (Chinese) Vicky the Viking Pirate Village ( 小威の海盜村水樂園 ) Add: 67, Dahukou, Yongguang Village, Gukeng Township, Yunlin County ( 雲林縣古坑鄉永光村大湖口 67 號 ) Tel: (05) 582-5789 Website: (Chinese)

English and Chinese Aladdin's Flying Carpet 阿拉丁飛毯 Amazon River Voyage 漂流亞馬遜 Bali District 八里區 Bermuda Triangle 百慕達禁區 Formosa Fun Coast 歡樂海岸 Guandu 關渡 Journey of Sky Pond 天池之旅

Madagascar Adventure 勇闖馬達加斯加 Mt. Guanyin 觀音山 Seattle Floating Bridge 西雅圖浮橋 Tamsui River 淡水河 Tarzan Jump 泰山跳水 UFO Expedition 幽浮迷航 Zhongshan Road 中山路

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Getting a Good Luck Charm at Xingtian Temple

Paying reverence to the Five Saviors

Put ting the joss stick s in the incense burner


T hrowing the halfmoon -shap ed divination block s


Heavenly protec tion guaranteed


4. Moving the good luck charm in the incense burner

Photos: Fred Cheng


you just have a run of bad luck, or you worry that you might be about to. What to do if none of your “logical” actions seems to help? How about seeking heavenly protection? In Taiwan this is a very common practice, and most of the faithful you see in local temples are doing exactly this when, incense sticks in hand, they stand in front of the statue of a deity. Many people in Taiwan always have good luck charms around. Some put them in their purse, some attach them inside their vehicle. These charms are obtained at temples, including Taipei’s Xingtian Temple, a very popular place of worship which always seems to be thronged with people. After entering the courtyard of this temple you first go to one of the volunteers handing out incense sticks. You take two and first pay reverence to the Lord of Heaven (the Jade Emperor) and the saints and sages of old, facing the front entrance of the temple with the incense sticks in hand. Using your left hand, you put one of the sticks in the incense burner there. You then walk to the other side of the courtyard and, facing the temple’s main hall, pay reverence to the Five Saviors and the other deities inside the hall, putting the second incense stick, again with your left hand, in the incense burner there.


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Then take two half-moon-shaped divination blocks out of the containers provided, hold them in your hands, and ask the deities for permission to receive a good luck charm. Silently give the Saviors your personal details (full name, address, age, and date of birth), ask your question, and throw the two blocks on the ground. There are three possible answers: Undecided (the flat side of both blocks face up), Negative (flat sides face down), and Positive (one flat side faces up, one down). If the answer is Undecided, you can throw the blocks again, until you get a different answer. If the answer is Negative, your wish is not granted, and you have to come again another day. If the answer is Positive, you are granted permission to take your good luck charm home. After receiving a positive answer, go to the temple’s information desk and ask for a good luck charm. Return to the incense burner before the deities in the main hall and, holding the good luck charm in your hands, move your hands clockwise three times above the burning incense sticks in the incense burner. This way you’ll make sure that the good luck charm is blessed, and will thereafter protect you.

Xingtian Temple is easily reached by taking the MRT Zhonghe-Xinzhuang/Luzhou Line (Orange Line) and getting off at Xingtian Temple Station.


Hotels of Taiwan



Visitors to Taiwan have a wide range of choice when it comes to accommodation. From five-star luxury hotels that meet the highest international standards, to affordable business hotels, to hot-spring and beach resort hotels, to privately-run homestays located in the countryside there is a place to stay that satisfies every traveler’s needs. What all hotels of Taiwan — small and big, expensive and affordable — have in common is that serve and hospitality are always of the highest standards. The room rates in the following

No. of Rooms: 225 Room Rates:

list have been checked for each hotel, but are subject to change without notice.

Room rates at the hotels apply.



4,500 5,000 5,200 5,500 5,600 5,800 6,200 6,800 6,800 8,000 16,800 20,000

Desk Personnel Speak: Chinese, Japanese, English, Cantonese

Restaurants: Cantonese Dimsum, Shanghai Cuisine, Buffet Breakfast, Lily Café, Ditrevi Ice Cream Shop, La Fusion Bakery

Special Features: Conference Room, Banquet Hall, Gift Shop, Barber Shop, Flower Shop, Parking Space, Gym 43, Chunghsiao (Zhongxiao) W. Rd., Sec. 1, Taipei City, 100 (MRT Taipei Main Station, Exit M3) 100台北市忠孝西路一段4 3號 (捷運台北車站M3號出口)

Tel: 02.2361.7856 Fa x: 02.2311.8921 Reser vation Hotline: 02.2311.8901 Reser vation Fa x: 02.2311.8902 E-mail:

*Hotel list in alphabetical order from Northern to Southern Taiwan.



華 泰 王子大 飯 店


Taipei 台 北

No. of Rooms: 220

No. of Rooms: 60

Room Rates: Deluxe / Single / Twin & Double NT$ 7,800~8,500 Suite NT$ 9,500~20,000

Room Rates:

Desk Personnel Speak: Chinese, English, Japanese Restaurants: La Fontaine (Western), Chiou Hwa (Chinese) Special Features: Coffee Shop, Fitness Center, Business Center, laundry service, meeting and banquet facilities, non-smoking floor, parking lot, airport transfer service

Deluxe Room Grand Deluxe Room Premier Room Premier 9 Éclat Suite

Taipei 台 北


No. of Rooms: 79 Room Rates: NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

12,000 12,500 13,000 15,000 35,000

(All rates are exclusive of 5% VAT and 10% service charge)

Desk Personnel Speak:

English, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Cantonese,

Restaurants: Éclat Lounge, George Bar Special Features: Member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World; strategically located in the most fashionable and prestigious district of Taipei; offers guests great convenience for business and entertainment; Wi-Fi connectivity and in-room business facilities; variety of meeting rooms providing the ideal venue for professional meetings, corporate functions, and social gatherings.

Taipei 台 北

Superior Room NT$ Business Room NT$ Deluxe Room NT$ Executive Deluxe Room NT$ Executive Suite NT$ Sense Suite NT$ D esk Personnel Speak:

7,500 8,500 9,500 9,000 10,000 15,000

English, Japanese, Chinese

Special Features: Business center, fitness center, meeting rooms, Club House with luxury furniture and advanced media facilities for private meetings and gatherings, wood-floored openair Sky Garden, parking tower, close to the MRT system near Zhongshan Elemen tary school MRT station and key commercial and entertainment districts.


Taipei 台 北


No. of Rooms: 203 Room Rates: Deluxe Room Business Room Executive Deluxe Room Boss Suite Premier Suite

NT$ 8,000 NT$ 9,000 NT$ 10,000 NT$ 15,000 NT$ 20,000

Desk Personnel Speak: English, Japanese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Cantonese Restaurants: Rain Forest Café, Garden Terrace, Lounge 81 Special Features: Business center, Pyramid Club - luxury executive floor, multifunctional room, Internet service, 32-inch LCD TV, garden terrace, bar, fitness club, outdoor pool, sauna, spa, aromatherapy, car park

83 Civic Boulevard, Sec. 3, Taipei City, 104

369 Lin-sen (Linsen) N. Rd., Taipei City, 104 104台北市林森北路3 69號

370, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da-an District, Taipei City 106

477 , Linsen N. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City 104

104台北市市民大道三段8 3號

106 台北市敦化南路一段370號

Tel: 02.2581.8111 Fax: 02.2581.5811, 2568-2924

Tel: 02.2784.8888 Fax: 02.2784.7888 Res. Hotline: 02.2784.8118

10 6台10 4台北市中山區林 森 北 路 47 7號

Tel: 02.7743.1000 Fax: 02.7743.1100 E-mail:

Tel: 02.8772.8800 Fax: 02.8772.1010 E-mail:

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Taipei 台 北


No. of Rooms:

No. of Rooms: 160

No. of Rooms: 538

95 rooms, 28 instant offices, 4 conference rooms Room Rates: Boutique Room NT$ 7,700+10% Business Room NT$ 8,400+10% Junior Room NT$ 9,800+10% Executive Room NT$ 11,000+10% Family Room NT$ 12,000+10% Pacific Room NT$ 12,000+10%

Room Rates:

Room Rates:

esk Personnel Speak: D English, Japanese, Chinese

RESTAURANT: Ju-Yi Restaurant Special Features: Free wireless access, Hi-speed ADSL broadband internet, VIP lounge, Business Center, safety deposit box, private conference rooms, private office rental service, secretarial service, gym, plane parking lots, launderette, airport pick-up and limousine service

11F (Lobby) No. 495, Guangfu S. Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City 11074 1 10 74 台 北 市 信 義 區 光 復 南 路 4 9 5 號 1 1樓

Tel: 02.8780.8000 Fax: 02.8780.5000 E-mail:

Single Room NT$ 5,800 Deluxe Single Room NT$ 6,200 Deluxe Twin Room NT$ 6,800 Suite Room NT$ 9,800

Desk Personnel Speak:

English, Japanese, Chinese

Superior Room Deluxe Room Junior Suite Corner Suite Residence Elite Suite

(Western semi buffet); Golden Pot (Chinese Cuisine)

Special Features: Business Center, meeting rooms, airport transfer service, parking lot, laundry service, free Internet access, LCD TV, DVD player, personal safety box, mini bar, private bathroom with separate shower & bath tub, hair dryer

Szechuan & Cantonese Cuisine, Japanese Cuisine, Steak House & Teppanyaki, Lounge Bar, Buffet, Café

Special Features: Executive business center, fitness center, sauna, rooftop swimming pool, SPA, ballroom and convention facilities, parking, laundry service, 24-hour room service, wireless Internet, airport transportation service

104台北市松江路18 6號

Taipei 台 北

No. of Rooms: 487 (Suites: 57) Room Rates: Single/DBL NT$ 5,700 – 11,000 Suite NT$ 15,000 – 28,000 Desk Personnel Speak: English, French, Spanish, and Japanese

Special Features: Grand Ballroom, conference rooms for 399 people, 10 breakout rooms, business center, fitness center, sauna, Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, billiards

1 Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10461 R.O.C

No.3, Ln.39, Sec.2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Taipei City, 104

Tel: 02.2541.5511 Fax: 02.2531.3831 Reservation Hotline: 02.2541.6888 E-mail:


10 4 61台北市中山北 路 四段1號

Tel: 02.2523.8000 Fax: 02.2523.2828

Tel: 886.2.2886.8888 Fax: 886.2.2885.2885


Taichung 台 中

Superior Single Deluxe Single Family Twin Corner Semi-Suite Harbor Suite Executive Suite Presidential Suite

Chiayi 嘉 義

No. of Rooms: 139

No. of Rooms: 200 Room Rates: NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

5,600 6,200 7,600 8,800 10,800 12,800 38,000

esk Personnel Speak: D

Scenery Suite Room/Twin Room Double Suite Fragrant Suite Room/Quad Room Superior Suite VIP Suite Executive Suite Handicapped Suite(Free Space Room) President Suite

NT$ 6,600 NT$ 10,000 NT$ 12,000 NT$ 16,000 NT$ 16,000 NT$ 26,000 NT$ 26,000 NT$ 300,000

(Prices above not including 10% Service Charge)

General Manager: Mr. Jen-Shing Chen

Restaurants: Gladden Restaurant, Fukuminato Japanese Restaurant, Pier 88 Lounge Bar

Desk Personnel Speak:

Special Features:

Restaurants: Chinese, Café, Courtyard

SEA SPA, Fortune Boutique Shop, Gym, Conference Room

Special Features:

Taichung Harbor Hotel will make you feel at home with its newest and complete facilities and a tranquil environment.

Chinese, English, Japanese

Broadband Internet access in guestrooms, business center, Souvenir Shop, Gazebo, 1950’s dance hall, foot massage

16 Sianglin Village, Alishan Township, Chiayi County, 605

(MRT Ximen Station, Exit 6) Tel: 02.2331.3161 Fax: 02.2388.6216 Reservation Hotline: 02.2388.1889

388, Sec. 2, Dazhi Rd.,Wuqi District, Taichung City 435

4 35台中市梧棲區大智路二段38 8號

Tel: 04.2656.8888 Fax: 04.2656.8899


Kaohsiung 高 雄

No. of Rooms: 152 Room Rates:

Room Rates:

English, Japanese, Chinese


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186 Songjiang Rd., Taipei City,104 Exit 1 of MRT Xingtian Temple Station on the Luzhou Line.




Restaurants: Western, Cantonese, Northern China Style Dumplings, tea house, coffee shop



No.150, Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd., Wanhua Dist., Taipei City, 108

12,000 13,000 20,500 30,500 17,000 24,500

English, Japanese, Chinese


No. of Rooms: 121 Room Rates: Cozy NT$ 7,200 Deluxe NT$ 7,800 Premier NT$ 8,500 Premier City View NT$ 8,800 Dual Queen NT$ 10,800 Premier Dual Queen NT$ 11,800 Executive Suite NT$ 12,800 Grand Suite NT$ 12,800 Desk Personnel Speak: English, Chinese, Japanese Restaurants: Unwind Bar & Restaurant Special Features: Located in the heart of the energetic Ximending; 1 minute on foot to MRT Ximen Station; free wireless Internet access; fitness center; business center; laundry; meeting room; complimentary Chinese/ Western buffet breakfast; safety deposit box; express laundry service; limousine service; airport pick-up.


Desk Personnel Speak:

Restaurants: Golden Ear Restaurant


Taipei 台 北

Taipei 台 北


605嘉義縣阿里山鄉香林村16號 ALISHAN Tel: 05.267.9811 Fax: 05.267.9596 TAIPEI Tel: 02.2563.5259 Fax: 02.2536.5563


Standard Single Room Standard Double Room Standard Triple Room Standard Family Room Standard Suite Executive Single Room Deluxe Single Room Deluxe Double Room Deluxe Family Room Deluxe Suite Chateau de Chine Suite


6,000 6,700 7,500 8,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 7,200 9,000 14,000 50,000

Desk Personnel Speak: English, Chinese, Japanese

Restaurants: Japanese, Chinese, Cantonese Dim Sum, Lounge Bar

Special Features: Multi-functional meeting room, banquet hall, business center, wedding planning center, gym, free use of wired/wireless Internet, silent refrigerator, electronic safe, personal bathrobe/slippers, free cable TV, free use of laundry room, all-new TV-sets 43 Daren Rd., Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City 8 03高雄市鹽埕區大仁路4 3號

Tel: 07.521.7388 Fax: 07.521.7068





Travel in Taiwan 9,10/2013  
Travel in Taiwan 9,10/2013