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Pingtung: Expect the Unexpected (Part one of two)

One of these days the good folks in the Taiwan Motto Making & Sloganeering Bureau will listen to me and adopt Taiwan: Expect the Unexpected as the official slogan of Taiwan tourism. For now I’ll just have to appropriate it as the title for this story about three surprise-filled days I spent in Pingtung, Taiwan’s southernmost county. I’d come with a group of Internet Media professionals from Malaysia and Hong Kong. Like me, my fellow journalists knew Pingtung primarily as that part of Taiwan where Kenting is, and as such were mostly expecting beach oriented activities. I’ll get to the sea kayaking in a bit, after listing a few of the activities that I didn’t expect to encounter out of the way: I did not expect to find myself riding a four wheel ATV across sand dunes in a chunk of Taiwan so remote it might well have been the…

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),…

We Never Made it to Jiufen

Having overstayed its welcome here as in much of the rest of the northern hemisphere, Summer is finally over in Taiwan. The forecast is for heavy rain over most of Northern Taiwan through the weekend, which means movies and Netflix, and maybe a wet bicycle ride. So it’s a good thing I made the most out of last week’s four day weekend by spending much of it outdoors, bringing a friend from Singapore on a personalized tour of Taipei including a food tour of the Raohe Night Market, a tea hike through Maokong, and the all-night art, music and culture party that was the 2017 Nuit Blanche Taipei festival. We were also supposed to go to Jiufen, only we never made it. We tried, though. We had every reason to go. I’d not visited Jiufen for several years, and my partner Stephanie had never been. Tony, like most Singaporean men,…

Some Rest and Relaxation in Taipei

Taipei has a history of providing relaxing haven to weary Americans dating back to the days of the Vietnam war, when American troops visited Taiwan for R&R tours between combat tours. While some of this R&R was certainly of the more sordid variety, this element of mid-twentieth century Taiwan Tourism is already pretty well documented. At the risk of being accused of glossing over the skin trade aspect, I’m going to guess that the most welcome part of Taipei R&R for most American soldiers was not booze and girls, but the far more innocent pleasure of being able to stroll around among friendly people without having to worry about being killed. I can only back this up with anecdotal evidence of the many former soldiers I’ve met who’ve spent longer waxing on more innocent memories of their own Taipei R&R experiences than they did on tales of the Taipei neighborhood…

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…

Jiufen and Jinguashi: Taiwan’s Golden Getaways

The story of Jiufen is in many ways a riches to rags (and back to riches, but of a different sort) tale. The small town about an hour away north of Taipei was built just outside of an active gold mine during the Japanese occupation, and it’s said that gold was plentiful during the good days. But the town is also remembered for a darker history during the later days of occupation when it was the site of a POW camp whose prisoners were made to labor under hard conditions. Go Ahead And Find It(@filmoviebelongstoyou)分享的貼文 於 2017 年 5月 月 16 8:41上午 PDT 張貼 Jiufen became associated with historical darkness of a different sort when Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao Hsien used the scenic mountain town as setting for much of the action in 1989’s “A City of Sadness”. The film focused on the then still taboo topic of Taiwan’s 228…