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History & Culture

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Guanyin, Snakes & History’s Ghosts: An Afternoon on Turtle Island

All photos credit to Stephanie Huffman and Candace Chen Though the form for which the island is named is readily apparent from angles further north and south, from Toucheng pier due west, Turtle Island looks more slug-like than terrapin-shaped. A small and curving rock covered in green, the island – like all points on the horizon – grows larger and more distinctive as our boat draws closer. There are about sixty people on the Blue Whale, all wearing bright orange life jackets and hoping to catch a glimpse of the dolphins sometimes spotted frolicking around the island. The boat takes its time along the island’s southern end, a steep hill dotted with carved outcroppings. “Are those lookout points?”, asks Stephanie. I point to the long, faded green barrel of a cannon just sticking out of one of the outcropping. “Among other things,” I answer. As with many of Taiwan’s outer…

There’s never been a better time for GLBTQ travelers to come to Taiwan. Arguably Asia’s most progressive country (Taiwan’s military struck down sexuality-based discrimination way back in 2002),…

The ghosts were out in Keelung

We heard it before we saw it, the fireworks, chanting and singing. Before we’d even left the highway tunnel marking where the jungle-filled mountains between Taipei city abruptly becomes the bustling harbor city of Keelung we were being greeted by cacophony. It was well past sundown, but the festival was only starting to heat up as we walked the crowded sidewalks. Floats from various temples and neighborhood associations paraded through the streets. It was crowded despite the fact that we were still several blocks from the Keelung Miaokou Night Market (which is, even on a slow night, crowded by Western standards). My partner Stephanie and I were traveling with Chelsea Pearl, a blogger from San Francisco on assignment in Taiwan. MyTaiwanTour had arranged most of her tour around the island, but having not experienced the Keelung Ghost Festival before, Stephanie and I decided to tag along.    Some background…

6 things to do in Taipei that should be on every visitor’s bucket list

There’s no shortage of things to do in Taipei’s dynamic capital city, but if you’re only here for a short time and need to winnow it down to six must have experiences, these are our picks:   1.Looking out over the city from Taipei 101 It’s impressive, iconic, and represents the spirit of Taiwan in more ways than one. Visiting Taipei without checking out the view from the top of Taipei 101 would be like visiting NYC and not heading to the top of the Empire State Building. The green tinted glass exterior recalls a stalk of bamboo, uniting the island’s agrarian past with its high tech present (while simultaneously paying homage to both). Though the structural design, which mixes elements of flexibility and rigidity is a practical necessity, the design also symbolizes the resiliency of the Taiwanese people to bend without breaking, to adapt to all circumstances,…

3 Ideas For Family, Couples, and Friends To Travel Around Taiwan

For those who never been to Taiwan or just spent a short stay in Taiwan, we’d love to tell  you there’re a lot more than your expectation that this small island can give you. We specially designed 3 different ways for you to explore around Taiwan. Whoever you travel with, family, friends, or lovers, you can always find there’s so much to see from one end of the island to the other and hope to back here again! For FAMILY : Taiwan is small, but with abundant natural resources, including mountains and beaches. Here are our top suggestions for family trips in Taiwan. National Palace Museum and Yehliu Geopark are both incredible masterpieces separately from human beings and natural world. If you’re in Tainan, definitely can’t miss Anping Tree House. It’s an amazing reminder of how nature works and prevail. Travel to eastern part of Taiwan, a stop in National Museum of Prehistory to get to know the…

Headin’ East – Into Greater Taipei’s Tea Country

Text by Rick Charette About In the great jumbled mass of high hills and low mountains between the city of Taipei and the northeast coast are the quaint, timeless towns of Pinglin (坪林) and Shiding (石碇). The word “towns” is now officially a misnomer – each is at the center of what is termed a “district” of the same name in sprawling New Taipei City, inaugurated in 2010, which encircles Taipei. The waters of the small, twisting, shallow rivers that meander through the towns run down into the Taipei Basin, where the urban cores of Taipei/New Taipei City are found, then off to sea at Tamsui port on the north coast. The waters are pristine. The area’s long, serpentine Feicui Reservoir (翡翠水庫), inaugurated in 1987, is source of the majority of Taipei/New Taipei City treated water. To ensure water quality, pig farms, rice-paddy farms, and other polluting industries in…