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Friday the Thirteenth in Taiwan

(4/13/2018) Today is Friday the thirteenth, a date most westerners associate with ill tidings, negative omens and bad luck in general. An entire blood-soaked film franchise is based on Friday the Thirteenth’s nefarious nature, and more than a few folks avoid traveling on the 13th day of any month that happens to fall on a Friday. In Taiwan, however, the date is meaningless, and more than one Taiwanese friend has asked me, “Josh, why is Friday the thirteenth considered an unlucky day in America?” To which I’ve wisely answered (being something of an expert in both Taiwanese and American culture): “Errrrr…let me get back to you on that.” And then consulted our good friend Madame Wikipedia on the subject. While there are a few theories floating around, there’s no concrete evidence pointing to exactly what – culturally or scientifically – makes the phenomenon of triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number thirteen)…

Cycling in Taiwan: An Embarrassment of Riches

While the mercury dips dangerously in North America and rises in other parts of the globe for the last weekend in 2017, the forecast ion Taiwan is for cool and mostly dry around the island, or as I like to call it, cycling weather. This is good news for me, since my plan for for the three day weekend includes getting back into cycling shape by doing a 70km ride from my home in southern Taipei to the hot spring town of Jiaoxi. Though 2017 has been a busy year for me, I’ve slacked off in the riding department. No round the island experiences like In 2015 (when I led two such 11-day custom tours) this year, and outside of some short-ish day rides in Taitung & Sun Moon Lake, most of my cycling has been confined to Taipei City. Anyway, it’s high time to start my new year’s resolution…

Henry Rollins is in Taipei

Photo Credit to Danny Liao Earlier today I was having a conversation with my colleague, April, Social Media Manager for MyTaiwanTour. She’d noticed that there had been a sharp uptick in recent weeks to people searching for the term DaDaoCheng, and was curious about why. She also noted that the area’s been increasingly packed with foreign travelers. “I don’t understand why.” She said. “There’s no current festivals happening in the neighborhood.” “There doesn’t have to be.” I replied. “DaDaoCheng is cool. People know it’s cool, and want to just hang out there. Like Times Square, in New York City. People just go there.” At the time, it seemed like a decent analogy. Being from New York, I never went to Time Square unless I had some reason, and never really “got” what the appeal of the neighborhood was. But to travelers, Times Square represents the quintessential New York Experience -…

Branding Taiwan’s Cities

It’s Mid-September and the unusually oppressive heat of summer is fading at last, replaced by the rich, windy weather (and occasional typhoon) for which Taiwan autumns are known. As a cyclist, it’s my favorite time of the year, and this week’s column would probably be about my upcoming weekend cycling plans, if I’d not been sidetracked by an experience I had in Tainan on Monday, delivering a keynote address on the subject of “Branding Taiwan’s Cities”. In typical Friday Column tradition (and in keeping with Lao Tzu’s maxim on travel), I may take a winding route to reach the destination. Before coming on board with MyTaiwanTour I worked as a travel writer, both for travel-guide giant Lonely Planet and several dozen other smaller publications, periodicals and travel websites. Though my work brought me to many places around the world (Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Belize and all over China, just to name…

Heading out to the mountains

Weekend Plans: Heading out to the mountains If I may toot my own horn for a minute, it’s been a pretty eventful week. In addition to helping to create a number of customized tours for North American visitors heading to Taiwan in a few weeks (more about them in future posts), last night at 8pm I submitted for publishing my most recent book on Taiwan, Formosa Moon. Co-written by my partner Stephanie Huffman, Formosa Moon is a heartwarming tale about the time I tricked my girlfriend into moving to Taiwan by bringing her on a lengthy journey around the island. Being done with the book means that we get to experience full weekends again, which neither of us has done all summer (we’ve spent at least one of our two proscribed days of rest on chunks of last minute writing and editing). So what are we doing with…