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Pingtung: Expect the Unexpected (Part two of two)

If you haven’t read part one yet,  read that first. Kenting’s position at the tapered tip of Taiwan island means that unlike most elsewhere in Taiwan (where getting lost might lead to a quick life ending or lengthy life changing experience), this far south most sensible hikers should be able to find their way within sight distance of either the Taiwan Strait or the Pacific Ocean within a few hours of hiking in any direction but due north. Once we’d left the cars behind, Misalu’s choice of footwear made perfect sense, as we found ourselves walking through a high plain grassland, dry in some places and muddy in others. “We will not walk too far,” Misalu said. “Only to the edge of Taiwan, that’s all!” We hiked along the windswept grassland that could have passed for the Scottish Highlands, save perhaps for the large patches of tropical jungle plants with…

Seven Star Mountain, a Hike You Cannot Miss While in Taipei

Though I’ve lived in Taipei over 20 years, I’d never made it to the top of the city’s iconic Mt. Qixing, or Seven Star Mountain, known for its riveting views of Taipei, the mountains beyond, and of the rugged, whitecap-washed north coast. Today was the day, the scenic Mt. Qixing Trail my path into the north Taiwan sky.   I was a short distance from the Taipei Main Station launch-point for my group on a MyTaiwanTour guided hike to the Seven star mountain’s main and east peaks (9am departure, return 6~8 hours later). However my own launch-point was a symbolic one, Taipei’s historic North Gate a popular tourist site. The gate points directly at the main peak of Seven Star Mountain to the north, supposedly aligning the area’s positive natural energies, allowing good feng shui energy pour in. I peered through the archway tunnel from the south side and, sure enough,…

Stairways to the Sky — Hiking Filial Son Mountain in New Taipei City’s Pingxi Area

Text: Richard Saunders Photos: Twelli The quaint old village of Pingxi (平溪), today officially the center of New Taipei City’s rural Pingxi District, is the penultimate station on the Pingxi Branch Railway Line, built early in the last century to transport coal mined in the surrounding hills. After coal mining in the Pingxi Valley ceased a few decades ago, the railway line escaped closure partly because it was a vital link with the outside world, but also because the area was becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction. Pingxi Branch Railway Shifen Waterfall These days tourists flock to the valley to see the impressive Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布; sometimes called “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls”), and to wander round the evocative old mining villages, notably Pingxi and Jingtong (菁桐), which are rich in both local color and traditional snack foods. The Pingxi settlement lies spread out along the two sides of the infant Keelung…