Written by nmagann on 29 Oct, 2012
Kinmen Island or Jinmen on some maps was known as Quemoy back in the days when Taiwan was known as Formosa. A mere 60 minute ferry ride from the west side of Xiamen Island, China and 30 minutes from the east side, Kinmen Island…Read More
Kinmen Island or Jinmen on some maps was known as Quemoy back in the days when Taiwan was known as Formosa. A mere 60 minute ferry ride from the west side of Xiamen Island, China and 30 minutes from the east side, Kinmen Island belongs to Taiwan. Up until 2008, ferry travel was restricted to residents of the Fujian province in China. While the restriction to Chinese residents of the Fujian province continues, it has been opened to foreign travelers. Mainland Chinese are still not able to travel as freely as many others, but since many Fujian people's relatives and ancestry comes from Kinmen travel is now an option.The difference between the two countries is evident immediately. Upon arriving at the dock, the lack of honking horns and people speaking loudly is apparent. Not only were horns not blaring, but yielding to the pedestrian, stopping before making a right turn driving courteously were the rules as oppose to the exception. Furthermore a line between the crosswalk and where auto traffic stopped was for motor scooters. This was rather nice that if there was traffic a scooter could go to the front of the line where typical they have a faster take off than a car and of course take up less width room.The lack of trash and spitting was also quite clear. There were plenty of trash cans and signs indicating there are fines for littering and signs indicating smoking was prohibited. No only was it prohibited upon entry to the country at the dock, people pass out little pack of tissue to passengers that have a picture of a cigarette with the red circle and slash and message printed to please not smoke.Interestingly on the other hand, Kinmen's attractions and parks are free due to the income the island receives from its production of alchohol that fetches a pretty penny in Xiamen and other parts of China. The percentage of alcohol in the various liquors can be quite high. Tours are available of the famous, moneymaking distillery.The island is full of military related structures, features and memorials. The claim to fame from this tiny island about successful fighting off the Japanese and communism is well deserved. Meanwhile, the peaceful parks and incredibly friendly, kind people give no indication of past problems.Another interesting feature are the wind gods found throughout the island. Semi lion, semi dragon, these characters protect the island from bad winds and encourage good breezes. Wind has a tremendous affect on the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen alike, not to mention the structures. This island, not unlike mainland China and Taiwan, is in the path of monsoons and typhoons. Purportedly there are 63 such statues on the island, some colored, some not, some holding items, some not, some wearing capes, some not. Each one is different is size and facial features. Some seemed to be smiling, for a lion dragon type creature, while others appeared fierce. All being good, though.Close
Written by nmagann on 27 Oct, 2012
Jincheng offers a very nice self-guided walking tour that begins at the information center, which is conveniently located next to the bus station and entrance to the Civil Defense Tunnel. Although the map isn't in English, photos with the names of buildings are in…Read More
Jincheng offers a very nice self-guided walking tour that begins at the information center, which is conveniently located next to the bus station and entrance to the Civil Defense Tunnel. Although the map isn't in English, photos with the names of buildings are in English and the walking streets are highlighted making it easy to follow. Also next to the information center is one of many free bicycle rental facilities providing other options for sightseeing.In addition to three beautiful old Buddhist temples still in use, complete with bright lanterns and elaborate dragons climbing the lengths of the eaves, there are several old structures with historic significance.One such example is the former command headquarters of Quemoy not serving as a museum. This single story, modest compound houses a variety of historic items as well as typical home furnishings. Buildings form a square with a huge foyer in the center. Here, large trees with hanging roots provided a peaceful respite in difficult times. Furnishing of bedrooms and living rooms filled some of the rooms while others displayed weapons, uniforms, maps and old photographs.Completely opposite to this site on the tour is Qui Liang-gung’s Mother’s Chastity Arch, which serves as a memorial to the widow that lived for 28 years without remarrying while her husband served. The wonderful stone arch dates back to 1812.Yet another highlight is even more unique. Mofan Street appears to be the model of a perfectly design street infusing Japanese style architecture on one side of the street and Fujian style on the others. All the structures are the same height as the one next to it and constructed of evenly colored red brick. Beautifully clean streets and walkways with well-preserved exteriors do appear to be an example of the ideal street.More unusual features from octagon-shaped buildings to shutter doors and Romanesque columns can be seen along the route. The hour-long trek covers plenty of styles and periods.Close
Written by nmagann on 24 Oct, 2012
With map in hand pointing to Chinese characters meaning Wutong Pier to the taxi, I arrived at the ferry dock. Choosing a seat by a window, I realized all were too dirty to see out. A man sat down next to me and…Read More
With map in hand pointing to Chinese characters meaning Wutong Pier to the taxi, I arrived at the ferry dock. Choosing a seat by a window, I realized all were too dirty to see out. A man sat down next to me and began talking in English, clearly knowing that was my native tongue. He was a businessman from Taipei who was taking the ferry from Xiamen to Kinmen in order to get a reasonable flight to Taipei.George was an affable gent I felt comfortable asking questions. I learned the Taiwanese felt as I did regarding Mao, which contradicts the sentiments in China. China is viewed as communist as well, whereas Taiwan is democratic.He told me his driver would take me to my hotel. When I explained I needed to secure one, preferably a home stay, he said he would instruct his driver, who spoke no English. After dropping George off at the airport, I was taken to hotel where Judy informed me that it was a holiday weekend. Hence, banks were closed and exchanging money wouldn't be possible. The rates at the hotel were much higher than I was prepared for anyway. I had told her I had actually wanted a home stay and if the rates were decent I wanted to spend three nights. I also told her I had no local currency. She had me take a seat while she found a place and arranged for me to be picked up and stay three nights and rent a scooter where my Chinese currency was accepted.She asked what I would eat and I told her I had brought some crackers and soda. She offered me to get a bite from what remained at the buffet breakfast. Although I declined, the offer was incredible thoughtful and I thanked her profusely.I hopped into the care with a man who spoke no English but motioned with his hand directions each time we made a turn. Twenty minutes later I checked into a traditional Fujian room with no address or room number that I could see. He wrote down the figure for the room and scooter and gave me change in local currency. Holding two fat billfolds he somehow indicated he would exchange money for me if I wanted for which I was grateful.He walked me over to five motorcycles, all of which were grey except for one red one. He showed me the key, how to turn it on, where the gas tank was, and that it was on empty. Within minutes, map of Kinmen in hand all in Chinese, I headed off trying to recall how to get back to Jincheng. This was the name of the main city, I later learned.Somehow, the fact that I didn't know the name of the village I was in, the address, the phone number, or the proprietor didn't seem to weigh heavy on my mind. I managed to navigate my way around with the slogan, "thank heaven for 7-11" playing in my head. Not only is this where I bought water and a bowl of noodles for dinner that night, but also where I learned about fueling. As a man rode up on a scooter, I said hello in Chinese, pointed to my gas tank, shrugged my shoulders and motioned in a circle with my arm above my head. He seemed to understand, pointed up the street a block and to turn right. Success! I filled up the tank.Despite burning daylight due partly to being distracted by an extremely low tide, and a mistake requiring retracing steps, I arrive at my room and sleep very well. The only sound around was my breathing.Close
Written by ho.siminn on 12 Jul, 2011
My official job role is an English tour-guide at Paper Dome, Taomi Village, Puli Township, Nantou, Central Taiwan for 7 weeks. However, my actual role is more than just that –photographer, blogger, internet marketer, basically a Taomi-Village evangelist. :D Taomi Village, where Paper Dome is…Read More
My official job role is an English tour-guide at Paper Dome, Taomi Village, Puli Township, Nantou, Central Taiwan for 7 weeks. However, my actual role is more than just that –photographer, blogger, internet marketer, basically a Taomi-Village evangelist. :D Taomi Village, where Paper Dome is located, was a small agricultural village that was on the verge of decline. In 1999, it was badly damaged by the 921 earthquake but instead of wallowing in sorrow, the people of Taomi turned crisis into opportunity to not only re-build their hometown but also to re-brand it. The Taomi Village we see now prides itself as an eco-village, the model of environmental conservation in Taiwan. After being here for several weeks, I am inspired by the strength and resilience displayed by the villagers of Taomi and feel that I’m obliged to be its advocate, to spread the Taomi philosophy of co-existing with nature to the rest of the world. Whereas for the Paper Dome, it is a new addition to the village, its story spans across 2 earthquakes and is a symbol of love and mutual assistance between Japan and Taiwan. Ever since, I’ve started an English blog to document my observations of Paper Dome and Taomi, as well as to advertise Taomi on the internet, especially the English-based tourism sites. This is especially because in this part of Taiwan, English is not a very pervasive language and there are not many that can speak it (I’m their only English tour-guide). I think it is a pity not to let the rest of the world be aware of this beautiful place and hence I love my job as a Taomi-Village-evangelist. :))check out the blog that I did for them here: http://paperdome.blogspot.com/ Close
Written by nofootprint on 13 Sep, 2010
This was the very first visit we had to Asia and as jet lagged as we were, we set out to explore immediately on a 12hour layover, returning for an additional week on the way back from Australia.The first thing that struck us was how…Read More
This was the very first visit we had to Asia and as jet lagged as we were, we set out to explore immediately on a 12hour layover, returning for an additional week on the way back from Australia.The first thing that struck us was how incredibly friendly everyone was to us. It was amazing how many asked to help when they saw us staring at our map exhausted and bewildered.The second thing was how easy it was to get around, considering we didn't know the language. The MRT is great and so easy to figure out...in any language.The shuttle buses are the answer for transportation from the airport .( only $5.00 ) There is a ticket counter inside the airport in the arrivals area and the buses stop in convenient locations all over the city. Not knowing where the ticket counter was we went directly to the bus . The driver was kind enough to buy our tickets inside for us solving our language barrier. Not something we had ever seen before or since!!Since we only had the day to explore we simply took our time roaming around , We started by enjoying a tea house . This is a favorite pastime in Taipei and a wonderful way to relax and slow your pace. Small snacks are also served . My husband ordered peanut butter on toast. It seemed to take an unusually long time to be served . It was only later we realized the peanuts are ground and prepared fresh ! Next we thought we’d check out a hotel where we would stay on the return portion of our trip . Since this was our first time in Asia ,we chose the conveniently located and appropriately named First Hotel . There are loads of restaurants nearby and shops for browsing. Little did we realize that most would be closed on our return since it would be NEW YEARS… Close
Written by YouthTravelTaiwan on 04 Aug, 2009
I always said after taking 18-hour bus from Ankara to Trabzon in Turkey, 2006, I could always travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung since it's only around 5 hours drive. Yet, I had never done the traveling once. Tuesday, my screen popped up a MSN message…Read More
I always said after taking 18-hour bus from Ankara to Trabzon in Turkey, 2006, I could always travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung since it's only around 5 hours drive. Yet, I had never done the traveling once. Tuesday, my screen popped up a MSN message from a Journalist friend who was covering World Games in Kaohsiung, saying "You should really come down to feel World Games! That was the first impulse for the past two years telling me: I had to travel south to Kaohsiung. The idea was completely impulsive and the travel was not planned at all. I decided to take a night train Friday night from Chungli, Taoyuan to Kaohsiung, not knowing what to expect the next day after waking up in Kaohsiung. 5:31 am, I woke up, finding out I arrived at Kaohsiung Train Station. Being that early, I idled around the station before going to the Kaohsiung MRT, it was my first time as the system was not running when I served in the military early 2008. I felt the stations were more artistic compared to those in Taipei. But the gap between the trains were too long as averagely it took 8-9 minutes for a train to come. Not as convenient as the Taipei MRT's. I arrived at Formosa Boulevard Station at 7 am in the morning to see the Doom of Light, a fantastic public artwork invented by Maestro Narcissus Quagliata from Rome. Seeing the blue, red, green and other colors of lights formed the huge doom, I could not help but feel amazed by this public artwork.Later in the morning, I set out to watch inline hockey at the gymnasium in Yi-Saw University. Taking the shuttle bus was such a convenient way to get around the World Games venues, not to mention they were all free during the World Games period.Upon entering the venue, Czech and Italia were playing on the field. They were at the same level so the atmosphere of the game became a bit tense as I saw one Italian player kept trifling with the helmet of the defending Czech player. That was not what I would called the spirit of sportsmen. Then, finally, long awaited time was worthywhile as the next game was Taiwan versus Switzerland. You couldn't imagine how I'd like to watch this game because it would be something to brag about to Matthias, and other Swiss friends.Within the first ten minutes of the first half, the Taiwanese team managed to hold back the violent offense of Swiss players. Our goalkeeper kept saving some dangerous ball minutes by minutes, keeping all the audience breathless and applauding. The roof of the stadium were almost got off because of the overwhelming rooting for the home team. Nevertheless, once the Swiss scored the first goal, the whole situation slided to Switzerland as the gap between the two teams were still enormous.Nevertheless, at 10'10'' in the second half, Kai-Hsiang Chang of Taiwan still managed to score the first goal on a beautiful assist for team Taiwan in this game, and in Taiwan World Games Inline Hockey History. Whole Taiwanese players hugged each other, shouting with audience applauding crazily as if we won the Championship. Later team Taiwan were able to form several offence yet failed to score anymore against Swiss goalkeeper, Mile Daniel Schmocker. 1:9 was the final score.After the inline hockey, I decided to go to the main stadium to watch Rugby. I had never watched rugby live and I don't quite really understand the rules. However it might sounded boring to watch a boring game alone, I still went to the stadium for it's a must for me to sit laid-back in the world-class stadium, watching world-class competition.Team Taiwan and team United States were fighting for the 5th place. Although with the supports of 15,000 local fans, team Taiwan still failed to beat team U.S.A. two games in a row, losing the game with a margin of two points, ranked 6th of all 8 teams. But still we ranked best in Asia.After the game, team Taiwan walked around the stadium, responding to the ovation from the crowds. They even came closer to the seats to high five with local fans. Team America did not hesitate their love, also high five with the crowds as a way to thank the supports from Taiwanese fans.Then, it was the bronze medal competition between South Africa and Argentina. At last South Africa shut out Argentina to win the bronze medal. At the gold medal game between Fiji and Portugal, no one can ignore the the impressive touchdowns performed by no.8 Roko of Fiji. Eventually, Fiji had the tri-peat in World Games Rugby history as they played with no sweat a sliding victory over Portugal. By the end of the game came with the biggest surprise as a foreign fan ran naked through the field with the screams and shouts from the onlookers. The players seemed pretty used to this kind of situation but it was definitely a headliner for the breaking news and a memory for local fans to keep.Huge thunder storm drew the rugby series to an abrupt end as whole audience were running trying to get some shelter from the heavy sudden rain.Later, at night, I was trying to get the tickets for Aerobatic Gymnastics or Tchoukball but both sports were sold out. Outside the stadium of Tchoukball, I met the korfball coach of Team Netherlands, who just finished the World Games with 7-time Championship. What an impressive accomplishment. I walked with him back to the MRT Station while asking how he felt about the people, the city and of course the games. He's such a nice gentleman by praising the Taiwan team, nice citizen, Kaohsiung city and the whole organization. Although I'd love to accompany him to the night market, I only showed him the directions, leaving him with the friendly image of Taiwanese people.I feel so glad that I did come down to Kaohsiung to participate in the world-class event. As the slogan goes, may this change could lead more positive changes in Taiwan. And I am looking forward to Deaflympics in September in Taipei.Close
Written by YouthTravelTaiwan on 15 Apr, 2009
90 Performers21 Countries1 VoiceI've noticed Up with People were coming to Taiwan, performing Broadway style musical in Taipei, Taichung and Miaoli. I felt interested but yet did not ask to get the ticket.Then, Mino told me that she knows the Business Manager, Matthew…Read More
90 Performers21 Countries1 VoiceI've noticed Up with People were coming to Taiwan, performing Broadway style musical in Taipei, Taichung and Miaoli. I felt interested but yet did not ask to get the ticket.Then, Mino told me that she knows the Business Manager, Matthew of Up With People 2009 World Tour, and he invited her to watch the performance. Then, we went together to go Up with People.Arriving at the Auditorium in Taipei County Government, we were blocked outside of the gate since we did not have tickets in hand. Mino tried to explain the situation but it seemed that the volunteers at the entrance did not know much about the personnel at all. I started to worry maybe we would not be able to enjoy the performance.Luckily, one girl tried to bring Matthew out, bailing us out from this embarrassing moment. Plus, we did not need a ticket, at all. Haha, we were greeted by Matthew, a young 22-year-old, professional-looking American, who were dressed up in suit. I thought he would also be a part of the cast but then he told us he would just show on stage for a little part. Then, he ushered us to the VIP seats, well sort of, as we were at the eighth row of the seats so we could see the whole stage very clearly.After waiting for a while, the show began with Sing Out Taiwan, a local chorus, who performed three songs in Taiwanese aboriginal language (Bei-nan), Taiwanese and Hakka. To be honest, I don't think they perform their best as the male singer did not sing very loud so I could hardly enjoy their performance. What a shame! But they were not to steal the show, I suppose. After Sing Out, the female emcee from China came on stage, asking a local boy to introduce their first song of tonight Ayiko, meaning "Let's go!" "Let's do it!" in African language. I felt astonished and sooooooooooooo surprised that the the whole performance truly drew my attention. I could not even take my eyes off the show even for one second."I felt the show is just like "High School Musical!" Mino whispered."Me too!" I replied with excitement.The best part of tonight's show for me was the performance were not simply performing on stage but also came across the seats, dancing and singing right next to the audience so we, as audience, could thoroughly feel the immersion of their passionate atmosphere.The music types of tonight varied from Jazz, Blue to Rock. I didn't know most of the songs sung tonight but still I enjoyed them throughout the show! When I heard "What a wonderful world", I could not help but smile. He did sing as good as Luis Armstrong. Well, or maybe close to Armstrong.At the intermission, Matthew came to us asking how we felt about the show. Of course it was excellent, no doubt about it. Then we asked several questions to him. Matthew was one of the student, performing on stage before becoming an official staff of the UWP 2009 Tour. He also told us that his parents met within Up with People. "So you are an Up-with-People baby." Mino joked. How interesting. I asked him how did he see the reaction from audience tonight. He said they were good. But cultures differ from countries to countries as he further illustrate in Mexico they received the loudest reaction from the audience as Mexican would shout out, singing and maybe dancing with the music and rhyme throughout the show whereas in Asia or in Taiwan we tend to wait for the "right moment" to clap, applaud and show our emotion.He was right.Second part of the performance was much more international as we saw the Gypsy dance from Moldavia, and several interesting dances from Morocco, the States, Japan and Spain!When I saw the screen that the Japanese song was written after the 911 tragedy, I could not help but wonder what the lyrics was about. But, although I didn't know Japanese, I still felt a peace of mind when listening to the peaceful melody and voice. Then, the show from Spain brought me back to reality as I tried hard to catch all the Spanish phrases I could understand. I got some words which made me happier!Nevertheless, the most surprising part of tonight's event was not about Japanese or Spanish, but Mandarin!!!I heard Up with People singing in folk song in aboriginal language and "Change Yourself" by Leehom Wang! What a big surprise! They did learn to sing in Mandarin now I really felt impressed by the efforts they've made to delight and entertain the local audience. We could see this performance drew much more attention than the others.The show ended after curtain calls from all the cast tonight on stage. And the audience of course gave them our heartfelt ovation! We said farewell to our new friend Matthew and I wished him and their performance good luck! As we walked out of the auditorium, several performers did said to us "xie xie" (Thanks) to appreciate our presence tonight. It was we that should say thanks for inviting, and for making our night so unforgettable!Close
Written by Composthp on 18 Feb, 2007
If you have time to visit only one nature reserve, then head on to the Taroko National Park. Located in the township of Hualien, approximately 2 hours by train from Taipei, Taroko is considered to be Taiwan’s 8th most beautiful sight to behold. The main…Read More
If you have time to visit only one nature reserve, then head on to the Taroko National Park. Located in the township of Hualien, approximately 2 hours by train from Taipei, Taroko is considered to be Taiwan’s 8th most beautiful sight to behold. The main attractions in the park are easily accessible by car and can be covered in a day. However, to fully appreciate the magnificence and beauty of Taroko and the surroundings, do try a home stay or splurge at the Grand Farmosa Hotel. The area boasts limestone formations between the late Paleozoic era to the Mesozoic era, florid marble gorges curved by the Liwu River and a wide variety of flora and fauna. We stayed 2 nights at the Taroko Grand Farmosa to explore the area at leisure and yet, we barely scratched the surface of the park.There are several walking trails in the park and most are fairly easy to negotiate. Be sure to dress comfortably for hiking. If you intend to hike the Baiyang trail and the Lyushui-Houliu trail, do bring along a good torchlight as these trails include dark tunnels. We bought the hop on and off service offered by the hotel and loan torches from them (grab the big ones, the smaller ones were useless in the tunnels).Tunnel of Nine turns (Jiucyudong)The tunnel of nine turns is a 2km trail next to the central cross island highway and can be easily completed within 30 minutes. This was once a road from the old central highway. It is a must see for all visitors to the Taroko gorge. Visitors are treated to the magnificent sight of steep marble gorges created over time by the Liwu River, such is its beauty that it has inspired poems, 2 of which are inscribed along the trail. The highlight of this trail is the famous sight of "Fish leaping over dragon gate", a marble resembling the shape of a fish leaping upwards against a waterfall. We were in awe of the sheer majesty and felt as if we were walking in the middle of the gorge with the steep cliffs overhanging above and the flowing Liwu River rushing below us. A dizzy experience not to be missed.Lyushui-Holiu (Where the river meets)This trail is approximately 2 km and can be completed easily within 45 minutes. We tracked this trail in the opposite direction, beginning at the Lyushui camping site and ending behind the Lyushui exhibit hall. This trail is part of an old Aboriginal route and offers hikers views of 2 rivers meeting to form the Liwu river from terraces overlooking Lyushui (hence the name of the trail). Look out for the indigenous Taiwanese bamboo, the fragrant camphor trees planted by the Japanese colonists (take deep breaths) and if you are lucky, local monkeys and squirrels. The trail crosses a suspension bridge, a mini-waterfall, a very dark tunnel (flashlights on!) and a wooden bridge. There are clear signages along the trail highlighting the flora and fauna. Baiyang TrailThe most beautiful of the trails, the Baiyang Trail is, not surprisingly, also the most popular. Within 15 minutes walk from the Grand Formosa Hotel or 800m from Tiansheng, the trail starts from a tunnel located to the left of the highway. Emerging from the 1st of the 8 tunnels, we were immediately transported into another world. From indigenous bamboo, paper mulberry trees to cottonrose hibiscus, bee hives and colorful spiders weaving huge webs that spread across the trail, we were charmed by the beauty of the flora and fauna. The sounds of rushing water and the elusive bird calls seemed to calm our souls. The highlight of the trail is the Baiyang falls. This is a majestic waterfall that thunders down into jade-coloured pools that eventually join the Liwu River. A suspension bridge brought us closer to the waterfalls and gave us another vista of the beautiful marbled gorges carved by Mother Nature. Walking further, we came to the end of the trail with the water-curtain tunnel. We were warned by fellow trekkers making their way back, still, we did not know what to expect as we entered this tunnel (so take notes here!). With our pants rolled up, shoes and socks removed, umbrellas opened, we bravely entered into the dark water curtain tunnel and were almost drenched by the cold water cascading down from the ceiling of the tunnel. Later, we learnt that this is a favorite place to be among youths during summer. So bring your bathing suits, there are toilet facilities for changing before the tunnel. This tunnel is supposedly close to public so enter at your own risk, and only if you are prepared for a drenching.The trail is approximately 2km and follows the Liwu River. It took us approximately 1-1/2 hr to complete the whole circuit at a leisurely pace. We were enthralled and fascinated by the sights and sounds of this trail. Certainly, this trail is not for the faint hearted although it is the easiest as much of the path is flat.For a brief introduction of all trails, go HereClose
One of the must see and do for all visitors to Alishan, besides hiking that is; is to get up at the crack of dawn, brave the cold mountain air to view the sun rising above the sea of clouds over the Alishan mountain range.…Read More
One of the must see and do for all visitors to Alishan, besides hiking that is; is to get up at the crack of dawn, brave the cold mountain air to view the sun rising above the sea of clouds over the Alishan mountain range. A spectacular sight not to be missed, we were told. There are 2 designated spots for viewing the sunrise in Alishan, one at the DueiGaoYue and the other near Jhusan rail station. The latter is the more accessible of the 2; therefore expect crowds jostling for best spots, especially during peak seasons. Most visitors take the early train to Jhusan station and hike downhill after the sun is up. The train journey takes about 25 minutes in gradual ascent. There is usually only 1 service but more may be added during peak season. Visitors can check the time of departure the day before at their hotels, the visitor center or at the train stations. The departure time is dependent on the time of sun rise. A round trip ticket costs NT150 while a 1 way ticket, NT100 (half price if you are above 60 years).The best time for viewing sunrise is from November till February. We were lucky for sunrise was not until 7am, which means we got to sleep a little more. Still, we bundled ourselves and headed for the train station across our cabin ahead of time (kiasuism is in our nature). The train ride was smooth but cold (no heating), fortunately, our carriage was not crowded. There was not much to see in part due to the darkness and the cold had misted the windows. Once we arrived, the crowd literally rushed up the stairs to pick the best spots. There were commentators standing on low step ladders shouting and directing the crowd through megaphones to the viewing platform. Stalls selling hot drinks and breakfast competed for our attention as well. We were a little overwhelmed at the noise and crowd. Certainly it was not what we had anticipated. All the choice spots had been taken by the time we arrived. I was almost in despair when I spied a small group of Japanese tourists wielding mean cameras and tripods being led up a road by a guide. I followed them and after a 10 minute climb, we arrived at the Pavilion, the designated sunrise viewing lot. It was less crowded and quieter with just 1 Mandarin commentator who was a guide leading a group of students on a field trip but was "extending" his services to everyone within hearing vicinity. He was entertaining and humorous, giving tips on where the sun would appear, how to capture the perfect moment with your camera and to what kind of souvenirs you should buy while in Alishan and for how much. He even passed around locally produced raisins to everyone while we waited with bated breath for that magic moment. From the pavilion, we were able to see the Tashan ridge as well as the Alishan mountain ranges. When the moment finally arrived, it was not as it should be. The cloud of sea did not quite form while a thick cloud covered the sun, diffusing the light. The sunrise was disappointing and many left disappointed. Still, the views from the pavilion of the Alishan mountain range were breathtaking. To avoid the crowded train (there was only 1 service back), some chose to trek down the Jhusan trail (about 1 hour hike down) to Jhaoping Station. Follow the road from Jhusan station, cut to the trail midway as it “shortcuts” through the forest and ends just next to the Steam Yarair across the Jhaoping station. What better way to start the day than with an invigorating walk in the cold mountain air followed by a hearty warm breakfast of steam mantou (milk buns), porridge and dumplings.Less effort is required when viewing sunset. As our taxi-driver informed us on our way up to Alishan, the sunset is usually ignored and under-rated among visitors but it is no less beautiful. Some of the best viewing spots: on the slope leading into the Alishan recreation, the balcony at the Alishan House or at the Annex. The sunset was magnificent. It was a clear day, the sea of clouds had blanketed the valley, the mountain range had turned a golden hue while the sky, a fiery red just as the sun began to disappear into the sea of clouds. It was almost dream-like and picture postcard perfect. Close
Written by cassidy90 on 20 Aug, 2003
I was on a ship at the time, so I didn't actually stay in any of the local hotels. I ate at many different restaurants and bars, but can't remember the names of most, and would be willing to bet that some are not…Read More
I was on a ship at the time, so I didn't actually stay in any of the local hotels. I ate at many different restaurants and bars, but can't remember the names of most, and would be willing to bet that some are not there anymore.
Some of my best memories of this city were the markets downtown. All of these are tucked between narrow alleys and support hundreds of locals peddling everything from herbs to toys. As you walk, people on mopeds and bicycles whiz past crowded streets that I don't think I'd attempt on a bike if they were empty. The best part of these markets is that they're not for tourists. You can tell that they are for the locals and because of that offer a glimpse into the culture. The prices of everything being sold are negotiable. If you are going to purchase anything, make sure you barter. I always found it amusing that the vendors will give you a price and sell you an item without haggling, but I really do think they enjoy bartering with you. As soon as I offer them a different price, they all break out into big smiles and it becomes a game. I love conversing with the local people, even if you don't speak the same language. Surprisingly enough, many of the people here do speak at least a little bit of English. This makes it easier, but I sometimes felt guilty that I didn't speak their language as well. Don't miss this integral part of the city's culture.
One thing I did while I was there was take a tour with one of the local cab drivers. I was lucky because he was someone well-known to everybody that came into the port on ships at the time. His name was Fong. He spoke English well and knew the city like no one else. He would also exchange money for you. There are many local vendors that will exchange American money, but they charge you a hefty fee. You are better off going to a bank or exchange, but these small guys will do if you are pressed. If you have the opportunity, take a tour with a knowledgeable cabbie. He drove like a maniac and I didn't feel really safe ever, but he took us to some of the most amazing places I have ever seen. Kaohsiung is largely an industrial city, with lots of smog, but in the outskirts there are many beautiful hills that contain Buddhist temples. He drove us around the city for almost four hours for a very small fee and showed us sights that no tour could have offered.
We also went to the famous Lotus Lake, which harbors the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and the Confucius Temple on the shores. In this area we visited some more touristy shops where nice souvenir type items were offered. This area was beautiful.
We also took a tour of one of the local aquariums which was pretty good. I can't remember where it was, but I'm sure it would be easy to find if you were looking. Downtown we visited more of the many amazing temples of the region.
Again, we stopped in many bars, but I can't remember the names of half of them. I do remember that there was always plenty to do downtown. Yen Cheng, which I think was where the original downtown area was, was home to lots of different bars and clubs. It stayed pretty busy all night long.
Kaohsiung was one of the most memorable places I've been, rich with history and interesting sites. I haven't even scratched the surface here. Plenty to do and see!! If you go, make sure to check out the local areas instead of sticking to the usual tourist haunts.