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Three Days on Xiao Liuqiu (were not enough)

Astute readers of my regular weekend column may have noted that there was no column last weekend, and this was because I was off for three days enjoying myself on Xiao Liuqiu island. MyTaiwanTour published a previous article on this barely discovered gem here  a few months back, but this was the first time I’d gotten to experience the place firsthand. Readers, brace yourselves, because you’re going to be hearing more about Xiao Liuqiu in the months to come. Because if Taiwan is Asia’s best kept travel secret, then Xiao Liuqiu is definitely Taiwan’s best kept travel secret. And if nearly two decades in travel writing has taught me anything it’s this: “best kept travel secrets” don’t stay secrets long. So before the cat gets too far out of the bag, let me create some hype of my own by telling you why I’ve fallen in love with this island off…

Seven Taiwan Taboos worth knowing about

Though Taiwan is a thoroughly modern society built on reason and technology, vestiges of the old ways, or non-scientific customs and taboos from bygones days are alive and well in everyday life. Some may call these cultural taboos superstitions, but before being overly judgmental, consider the prevalence of triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) in western architecture. While most Americans, for example, would laugh at the idea that this obscure phobia impacts their lives, the fact that many buildings – even modern skyscrapers – skip from the 12th to the 14th floor is evidence that the superstition is alive and well. Here are a Seven Taiwan taboos you ought to know about when traveling in Taiwan. 1.Don’t point at the moon with your finger Chang’e is the Chinese Goddess of the moon, and though luminous and beautiful, she’s also considered somewhat shy. According to legend, pointing at the…

The Southwest Coast – Step Back into the Days and Ways of Taiwan’s Past

Text: Rick Charette Photo: Chen Cheng-kuo Pack your bags! We’re taking you on a multi-day excursion to a region of oyster farms, fish farms, old temples and old-time religion, and distinctive ecology. The plan: a leisurely “drive of discovery” from Tainan City’s coastal Anping District, perhaps Taiwan’s richest historical neighborhood, north to the rustic old fishing-port towns of Beimen and Budai, and on to the Hukou Wetlands in Yunlin County. Don’t forget your camera … or your appetite, for adventure and for seafood. The Setting Along much of its length, the southwest coast is flat, flat, almost mesmerizingly flat. From far inland you see ships far out in the Taiwan Strait that seem to hover on the horizon, inching nigh imperceptibly forward, with nothing in between to block your view. It’s often near impossible to discern where land ends and saltwater begins. This is a region formed over the eons…

Maokong – A Location for Tea-for-Two

Text: Mark Caltonhill Photos: Vision The Taiwanese are fond of their tea and love to climb hills overlooking their hometowns to take in a “night view.” Put these two together, stipulate that you do not want to drive more than one hour, and Taipei residents still have a large number of choices. One of the most popular is the historic tea-growing area around Maokong in the southwestern part of the city. Tea plantation at Maokong The Taipei basin is surrounded by hills – many of which offer excellent hiking opportunities – and Maokong (貓空) in the hills above Muzha would be just another of these, were it not that at the end of the 19th century immigrants, most famously Zhang Nai-miao (張廼妙) from the tea-growing region of Anxi in mainland China’s Fujian Province, discovered that this particular mountain area’s moist climate and good soil perfectly suited the strains of tea…