Have a healthy and happy new year, cheers!
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While night markets get most of the press in Lonely Planet guide books, morning markets can be an all together different experience in Asia. This morning market is a short walk from where I live in Taiwan. Most night markets … Continue reading
This gallery contains 6 photos.
The following are a collection of cityscape photos that I took from the top of Taipei 101, in the fall of 2010. I have been to the top on several occasions and have been blessed with some spectacular views each … Continue reading
SBL stands for Super Basketball League (超級籃球聯賽). The league began in 2003 after a period of about four years where Taiwan had no pro basketball.
I went to watch part of two games in Taipei. There were three games and one ticket is good for all three. Tickets cost $300NT which is equivalent to $9USD. Each team can have one import player, most likely from the U.S. The level of play is similar to Division II basketball in the States. Games are held in arenas all over the island.
Just as in Taiwanese baseball, there are no home teams. Each team has a main sponsor and is not linked to a specific city although some teams are more popular in certain areas of the island than others.
Here is the list of teams: Bank of Taiwan, Dacin Tigers, Kinmen Kaoliang Liqour, Pure Youth Construction, Taiwan Beer, Taiwan Mobile Clouded Leopards, Yulon Loxen Dinos.
If you want to see temples, this is the place, it has more Taoist and Buddhist temples than any city in Taiwan.
Tainan is the fourth largest city on the island. It is located in the southwestern corner and used to be the capital under the Qing Dynasty until 1887.
I did the historic walking tour from the Lonely Planet and stopped at least 12 or so temples before we called it a day and went to get dinner. The city itself takes up a very wide land mass because very few buildings are built over six stories. Taxi drivers here do not know any English so I had to put my little Chinese into full use. Only high school and university students will know English. The older generation, just like in most Taiwanese cities will speak Japanese due to the imperial rule.
Getting to Tainan is not as convenient as other cities along the High Speed Rail corridor. The station is about a 45 minute bus ride to get to downtown Tainan.
Tainan has several famous items for those interested in local cuisine. Those worth a try include: Oysters and Noodles (蚵仔麵線 kèzǎi miànxiàn), Dan Dan Noodle (擔仔麵 dānzǎi miàn), and the Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎 kèzǎijiān).
Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道) was once an important trail that linked Yilan and Danshui. Today, it is a great place to take a weekend afternoon and enjoy a long hike while basking in some of the great views on Taiwan’s northeast coast.
The path to the trail has a lot of small rice farms and scenery to enjoy. The trail itself is primitive in some parts and rather easy to hike in others. The day that we hiked it was rather muddy in certain areas as it had just rained. After the hike, we took the train a few stops down to Fulong Beach to eat and watch a couple surfers brave the cold water. In total the hike lasted about five hours.
Qixing Mountain (七星山) is translated into English as “Seven Star Mountain.” It is located just outside Taipei, in Yangmingshan National Park. The mountain is part of the Datun Volcano Group and is listed at 3,675 ft.
At the top of this extinct volcano sat one large crater which has since been split into seven smaller peaks due to heavy erosion. On our hike, several paved roads and bridges were completely washed out from recent typhoon Megi, 10/24/10. The mountain is rather steep, with little undergrowth to stop quick landslides that occur with heavy rains.
The main draw to this area is the gas fumaroles that emit large quantities of sulfur. The smell is just as intense as the flourescent yellow colors. Natural hot springs form in areas that have adequate rock to trap the water into small pools. This was a great place to enjoy a half-day hike, eat lunch by the hot springs and also get in some photos.
On the eastern coast of Taiwan sits the beautiful city of Hualien. The Spanish came here to mine for gold in the early 1600’s but it was not until around 150 years later, that the first permanent settlement began situated in the rocky coastal terrain. Hualien is a small city that is mainly known for being the starting point for anyone visiting Taroko National Park. Inside the park lies Taroko Gorge, which is a 19km long canyon that twists and turns through the jagged cliffs.
Hsinchu to Hualien is about a three hour train ride. The trek from Taipei to Hualien is especially nice as the train follows the coast for a majority of the ride. Be sure to get seats on the left hand side of the train for optimal viewing. My ride to Hualien was a bit rough. I was forced to endure the three hour ride sitting on the floor, in between cars, because I did not have a seated ticket. It did not matter too much though because the ride was late at night. My return trip during daylight was spectacular.
Taroko Gorge is a great place to visit. Not only did we get to see many different parts of the gorge, we also avoided the slow tour bus approach. This seems to be the standard way for many to see the park as multiple companies will try and get your business at the train station. We were lucky enough to find a great taxi driver who drove us to several beautiful beaches and other non-touristy areas that were located down slim mountain pass roads, too narrow for a bus to navigate. This approach was unbelievably cheap. We were astonished at our drivers rate to show us around for seven hours. Even though it is not common to tip in Taiwan, we gave our friendly driver some extra cash for his helpfulness. The smile on his face was priceless when he counted the money.
Note: Taroko Gorge is about 20 minutes from Hualien. The three main options to the gorge are: 1)to join a bus tour 2)private taxi 3)to rent a scooter. If you rent a scooter though you may be asked for a valid operating liscense.
In 1626, after Spain occupied northern Taiwan, Spanish missionaries came southwest to where the native Taoka Taiwanese lived. This area eventually become known as Hsinchu, (sin-chu) or (shin-chu) I have heard it pronounced either way. Hsinchu has a population of around 200,000 but it is hard to tell where the actual boundaries are. If you take a bus from Taipei (about an hour) or Taoyuan International Airport (30 minutes) you will see large apartment buildings and industry the whole way. There is no break at all, it is similar to driving through suburbs in America but there are more high rise apartments.
Taiwan is currently around the second or third most populated country in the world per square mile, with approximately 23 million residents. Lying only 90 miles off the coast of China, this small island can be traveled from one end to the other by train in an hour and a half. The high speed bullet train the goes north and south uses similar technology to those in Japan, and some areas of Europe, reaching speeds of well over 100 mph.