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Christmas in Taiwan

Though Christmas isn’t an official holiday in Taiwan, folks around these parts are generally up for any excuse to engage in festivities so it hardly comes as a surprise that this most festive of western holidays has caught on somewhat on our predominantly Buddhist / Taoist / Tribal island nation. Signs of holiday festivities abound, from piped-in Christmas carols in most supermarkets (usually starting with typical Taiwanese decorum in early December, as opposed to the day after Halloween as is increasingly the case in the USA) to holiday decorations hung casually in coffee shop windows. (On a related note, we were particularly impressed with both the efficiency and cultural inclusivity demonstrated by this particular display recently spotted in the window of the Louisa Coffee Shop across from the Tzu Chi Buddhist hospital, combining expertly and efficiently iconography from both Halloween and Christmas.) While Christmas isn’t technically celebrated in Taiwan (it’s…

The Hot Springs of Beitou – A Place of Warmth, History, and Mist-ery

Text: Rick Charette Photos: Vision The Beitou (北投) hot-spring district, now long enclosed within the borders of Taipei City, was voted one of Taiwan’s “Top 10 Tourist Towns” in a nationwide poll and expert survey concluded in 2012. Travel in Taiwan recently spent an afternoon with Yang Yeh, well-known Taiwan mapmaker, resident of Beitou since childhood, and expert on its history and culture. The hot-spring area, which percolates with resort hotels, public baths, and tourist attractions is close to MRT Xinbeitou Station. From the station you’ll see a long, narrow, valley directly ahead, sloping upward toward the high hills and peaks of the Yangmingshan massif looming behind. This valley was carved by the Beitou Stream (北投溪), a hot-spring stream that gurgles and steams. It runs through long, narrow Beitou Park, which takes up the center of the lower part of the valley.Beitou Stream The metro station is, says Yang, the…