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Discover a Higher Love – Kiwi Ultra Runner Ruth Croft’s Story in Taiwan Filmed by CNN

2020-12-11

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau and CNN cooperated to jointly film the true story of Kiwi ultra-runner Ruth Croft, learned new things about herself as she discovered the stunning trails of Taiwan’s mountains. The 2-minute video, “Discover a Higher Love,” was launched in celebration of International Mountain Day. Croft started her running career in high school and developed an early interest and aptitude for mountain running. After years of training and competitions, pressures caught up with her and the young talented athlete decided to re-locate to Taiwan in 2013. Shortly after moving to Taiwan, she joined a small running community and her love of trails was ignited. “I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t know the culture. But I was only made to feel welcomed,” said Croft. “It gave me a sense of belonging.” In the video, Croft introduces several of Taiwan’s thousands of beautiful trails – a full two-thirds of Taiwan’s is covered by mountains. She also visited some of Taiwan’s world-famous tea plantations and experienced the cultures of Taiwan’s Hakka and indigenous peoples. “For me, escaping to nature is so important. Nowadays, with travel being more complicated, finding these escapes is more important than ever.” Croft said. She added “I can’t wait to go back to Taiwan and be on those landscapes.” Link of the video Taiwan Tourism website

Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Promotional Videos “Taiwan – The Perfect Solo Travel Destination for Culture & Small Towns” Honored with “Asia – Overall Destination-Cultural Arts” Magellan Gold Award

2020-11-25

The 368 townships in Taiwan each boasts its own character. Taiwan Tourism Bureau has been dedicated to promoting ecotourism since 2017 and its effort is widely recognized by international travel media. The Bureau collaborated with Black Buddha, an U.S. based production company, to create “Taiwan – The Perfect Solo Travel Destination for Culture & Small Towns” promotional videos. It is announced on the 16th that the series is honored with the “Asia – Overall Destination-Cultural Arts” Gold Magellan Awards. Winning consecutive silver awards in 2018 and 2019 in the categories of “Asia - Adventure Destination” and “Asia - Overall Destinations-Eco-Friendly "Green" Destination,” this is the Bureau’s first Gold award promoting Taiwan’s arts & culture. Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Los Angeles office has been operating in the U.S. travel market for a very long time. Director Brad Shih said, “With the global pandemic that is yet to be tamed, the travel habits of the U.S. market has evolved to focus on small group travels with social distancing top of mind and this will be the future travel trend going forward. The promotional videos were created toward the end of 2019 targeting the millennial and Gen Z. They are based on their travel habits; solo female travelers are featured to highlight Taiwan’s safe environment. We utilize the marketing concept of promoting in-depth and local culture as a way to connect with global travelers. Taiwan’s ceramic capital Yingge and Sanxia districts are the focal destinations in the story telling of local industries and characteristics to strengthen Taiwan’s image as a cultural and ecotourism destination.” Director General Louis M. Huang of TECO in Los Angeles shared that “Taiwan is a democratic nation that advocates civil rights for all regardless of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or other characteristics. It is the first country in Asia to legalize same sex marriage, showcasing true equality toward the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society. For solo, female, and transit travelers, Taiwan is an ideal destination that is very safe and friendly.” Director-General Shi-Chung Chang of Taiwan Tourism Bureau also expressed that with international travel being affected at the moment, he believes most consumers are hoping that border restrictions will be lifted in the near future. The Bureau foresees that Taiwan will be a top international travel destination once its border opens up, given the remarkable result of pandemic prevention and control on the ground; meanwhile, the country will continue to prepare for the return of international travelers and sharing inspiring promotional videos of Taiwan. Black Buddha is a production company founded by a second generation Taiwanese American. The video’s unique filming and editing are praised by the U.S. general market as well as different tourism bureaus including New York Times, CNN Travel, National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, TripAdvisor, Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hong Kong Tourism Board, etc. ※ Travel Weekly is the most influential B2B news media and website in the U.S. travel industry. The Magellan Awards honor the industry’s best with awards covering hotel and resorts, travel destinations, cruise ships, online travel services, airlines, airports and travel agencies, etc. 2020 Magellan Awards Winners Taiwan Small Town Solo Travel (60sec version submitted for the competition) Taiwan Metropolitan Solo Travel (30sec Online streaming version) 

[BICYCLING]The Taiwan Cycling Festival

2020-11-25

The Overseas Traveler’s Healthiest Portal to Taiwan’s Scenic and Cultural Beauties TEXT / RICK CHARETTE PHOTOS / VISION The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has established two special websites for those of adventurous spirit pumped up with the idea of probing this land’s nooks and crannies on two self-powered wheels: Taiwan on 2 wheels and Taiwan Cycle Festival Portal The first provides general info on events and festivals, pre-trip planning, suggested routes, travel agencies handling cycling tours, and much else. The second is dedicated to the Taiwan Cycling Festival, a whirlwind of events spread out over the calendar, which has a wonderful combination of relaxed and thrilling events that bring you up into the high mountains and down by the pounding sea, and to countless lovely places in between. Here we present to you the Taiwan Cycling Festival. The annual Taiwan Cycling Festival is the creation of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, and is built around a corps of major events, including those we will cover below – Come!Bikeday, the Taiwan KOM (King of the Mountain) Challenge, and Light Up Taiwan – complemented by numerous events smaller in scale. The tourism-promotion quest that lays behind the staging of the festival is very broad, yet at the same time is built on a set of laser-targeted specifics. These promotion targets are: The full panoply of the Taiwan cycling experience for all travelers local and from abroad looking for new, inviting travel destinations with a health-enhancement and eco-friendly angle. The range of natural scenery that is so impressively varied for an island of this size (plus its many offshore islands of unique personality) and the alluring man-created scenic sights. The full and still growing network (over 4,000km) of interlinked regional and local bike-route webs and the ever more comprehensive infrastructure of rental and repair facilities. Quality accommodations that span the full budget range wherever you bike, the superb and pleasingly affordable food, and the warmhearted friendliness and hospitality of the local people. Sound like something in which you should be interested? We should say so. Taiwan is now energetically promoting green tourism through the vigorous marketing of cycling tours, and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has introduced numerous incentive packages and other promotional activities for international tourists. For more information, visit the bureau’s website. SUN MOON LAKE Come! Bikeday This is a showcase for the exquisitely beautiful Sun Moon Lake, located in the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area in the central mountains. The elevation of the mountain-surrounded lake’s surface is about 750m. The CNN Travel website has described the round-lake bike route as one of the world’s top 10 “cycling routes that’ll take your breath away.” Come!Bikeday happens over a weekend in late autumn, with different events satisfying the desires of competitive riders, leisure riders, and kids. The center of action is the expansive Xiangshan Visitor Center, located on the lake’s west side. Among these is the 30km round-lake Challenge Ride highway jaunt, for more serious bikers. The start and finish is at the visitor center. The non-competitive, family-oriented Joy Ride is 10km, and features easy grades. You start at the visitor center, head through the main lakeside village (Shuishe), and turn around just past the Zhaowu Pier to return the same way. A long part of this happy big-gathering excursion is along the popular bikeway (for walkers as well) that runs along the lake’s west side. The Push Bike section is a competition for tots 2~6, who race their push bikes (no-pedal bikes) on a mini-course set up on the visitor center’s grassy grounds. The west-side bikeway is itself one of Sun Moon Lake’s most popular attractions, and delivers you to numerous other attractions. The Xiangshan Visitor Center has an info-rich exhibit hall and a fine glass-wall café overlooking a small, quiet bay. Close to it – part of the bikeway – are the poetically lovely Tongxin Bridge and Yongjie Bridge, known as the “wedding photo bridges.” The Xiangshan Scenic Outlook skywalk, also near the center, is reached via a branch boardwalk that seems to float through treetops, high above the aforementioned bay. South of the center, the bikeway brings you to large, quiet Crescent Bay, one of the lake’s quietest areas, with no powered boats allowed entry. There is a campground and SUP/kayaking center here. North is the aforementioned Shuishe Pier, busy during the day with tour boats, and a great place for people-watching, faced by a line of cafés and eateries with alfresco seating. HOHOCHA HOHOCHA is the newest large-scale attraction in the Sun Moon Lake area. It is located right beside Provincial Highway 21 about 5km north of the lake, in the town of Yuchi. The theme here is black tea (Assam, Amber, Ruby, Amethyst). Sun Moon Lake is the center of Taiwan’s black-tea production, the origins of which date back to the 1895-1945 Japanese colonial era. Assam tea was introduced during that time, and a related research station is still in operation. HOHOCHA’s various facilities sit amidst an expansive hillside/hilltop tea plantation. The best way to experience the place is through one of the regular free guided tours (Chinese). These start at the main building, a three-story Japanese-style edifice with a façade of dark-stained wood. This is a combination exhibit/retail/dining facility. Your guide explains the tea-processing operations on the main floor and introduces the building’s different services (more on these in a moment). You then go into the fields for an intro to the various types of leaf and a visit to the plantation’s hilltop leaf-gathering facility. In the main building, in the 3F dining/DIY hall visitors are provided with a free tea-sampler tray, along with a delicious tea egg. Tea ceremony activities and DIY activities are held here: tea kneading, blending, sealing, etc. On the 2F is a retail center with loose-leaf tea and a wide array of tea-themed snacks for sale. A bakery provides oven-fresh tea cookies, biscuits, and other goodies. And on a 2F balcony is a stand with seating at which house-made gelatos, sausages, and dried beancurd are sold. Black tea is used as a flavoring for the latter two and for numerous gelato selections. DIY pizza-making sessions with tea used as an ingredient are also held here. Stands on the 1F sell fresh-prepared tea eggs, tea luwei (soy-braised tasties), and tea drinks. Note that camping facilities and outdoor group-fun activities are also offered (advance booking required). HOHOCHA Add: No. 443-36, Yuchi St., Yuchi Village, Yuchi Township, Nantou County (南投縣魚池鄉魚池村魚池街443-36號) Tel: +886-49-289-5899 Facebook Hotel Del Lago This upscale hotel is in one of the taller buildings in Shuishe, standing right beside the Shuishe Pier – “del lago” means “on the lake.” Its lake panorama is a treat, with the sweeping look of a 180-degree shanshui painting. The view embraces sights such as the Wenwu Temple on the far left, Ita Thao village straight ahead, Lalu Island on the far right, and Ci’en Pagoda between the latter two. The hotel is also a pleasure to look at from the pier or on the lake. The light-tone façade has a curving wave-like pattern that blends elegantly with the lake waves. When enjoying a meal in the Chinese/Western buffet restaurant on the first floor, which has doors connecting directly to Shuishe Pier, bright-painted tour boats can be seen through the French-style windows. Note that the hotel’s buffet breakfast is taken here, and that diners can choose to sit outside at patio umbrella tables. The hotel has 88 rooms, roughly divided in terms of style into European postmodern minimalist – verging on Scandinavian, with pronounced blonde tones – and Japanese classic. Each has one wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that allow excellent views. Guests also much praise the spa-massage column installed in each room’s shower stall. Two other big hits with guests are the hotel’s bike-rental service and paid SUP (standup paddleboarding) outings. A platoon of high-quality bicycles from Giant, the famed Taiwan brand, is lined up outside the lobby entrance. These are available to guests at minimal rates. This service is extremely popular, but visitors need not fret should no bikes be available. A large Giant rental operation in the multi-level Shuishe Visitor Center is near the hotel. Qualified instructors conduct the SUP outings, which happen in the early morning before the wake-creating tour boats wake up. The SUP excursions are also launched from the pier. A final note: Be sure your room is on the hotel’s lake-facing side; rooms on the inland side face Shuishe’s main intersection. (Rooms start at NT$7,000; Chinese/Western buffet breakfast included). Hotel Del Lago (日月潭大淶閣飯店) Add: No. 101, Zhongshan Rd., Shuishe Village, Yuchi Township, Nantou County (南投縣魚池鄉水社村中山路101號) Tel: +886-49-285-6688 Website(Chinese) HUALIEN-WULING King of the Mountain (KOM) Event The Taiwan KOM (King of the Mountain) Challenge (taiwankom.org) is the most exciting and spirit-demanding of the Taiwan Cycling Festival events, and considered the highlight event. The first edition of the Taiwan Cycling Festival was in 2010, the first for this race in 2012. It has become one of the most prestigious and sought-after challenges on international racers’ calendars. Rivaling the picturesque mountain-climb sections of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, the world’s biggest names come each year seeking the King of the Mountain crown. Held in late autumn, this is an international race reserved for elite riders – above 16 years of age and capable of finishing the route in 6.5hrs or less – that starts in the scenic coastal Qixingtan area just north of the small east coast city of Hualien and takes riders through magnificent Taroko National Park. At the park’s base just inland from the coast is Taroko Gorge, Taiwan’s greatest natural wonder, where sheer marble-laced cliffs a thousand meters high almost kiss in places. The race ends far, far uphill along the Central Cross-Island Highway at the Wuling pass, Taiwan’s highest road point at 3,275 meters. The pass is surrounded by the Hehuanshan (Mt. Hehuan) peaks, all easily accessible via trails of moderate length and gradient. Riders, starting at sea level, cover 105km, with the route featuring many steep and winding sections. There are also two “baby KOM” rides held each spring and summer for experienced riders who would like the awe-inspiring sense of achievement of tackling the KOM route but perhaps are not at the same level as the pros and elite amateurs who enter the big race: the Road to Taiwan KOM – Spring and Road to Taiwan KOM – Summer. The route is the same, but the cut-off time is extended to 9hrs from 6.5. Riders finishing within 7.5hrs automatically qualify for the autumn race. AROUND TAIWAN Light Up Taiwan This series of rides – full name “Light Up Taiwan 4 Poles Lighthouse Cycling Tour” – takes you on single-day cycle outings to lighthouses at the island’s four compass points. The excursions are spread out from mid-summer to mid-autumn, allowing ample preparation time in between for those who wish to tackle all four. There are theme souvenirs for each individual ride, and an Activity Passport that after being fully stamped can be used to obtain an official memorial certificate attesting that all four lighthouses have been visited. All the rides are casual fun rides, ranging from about 20km to 40km, designed for families and other cyclists of moderate fitness interested in easy-paced exercise focused on scenic discoveries. First up is the East Pole – Sandiaojiao Lighthouse tour (25km), in the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area. You start off and end at the Fulong Visitor Center, in the beach-fun/cycling town of Fulong. The Sandiaojiao (Sandiao Cape) Lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1935. Second is the West Pole – Guosheng Port Lighthouse tour (36km), in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area. The start and finish is at the Taiwan Salt Museum; this extremely flat region, home to many wetland areas, was once a major producer of sea salt. The Guosheng Port Lighthouse was built on a sandbar in 1957. Third is the South Pole – Eluanbi Lighthouse tour (42km), in Kenting National Park. The start and finish is at the Eluanbi Lighthouse Square. The lighthouse, built by a British engineer for the Qing Dynasty government, went into operation in 1883. Last is the North Pole – Fuguijiao Lighthouse tour (23km and 32km options), in the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area. Start/finish for both options is at Zhongjiao Bay. The Fuguijiao (Fugui Cape) Lighthouse was first built by the Japanese in 1896; the current tower was erected in 1962. Other complementary forays will also be offered. This year, the West Coast Beachside Village tour (35km) was held on the day following the West Pole tour. Guosheng Port Lighthouse Guosheng Port Lighthouse  Light Up Taiwan Light Up Taiwan

Trimmed Trees. Five-Senses Experience. Come for a Year-End Therapeutic Trip at Dongyanshan Forest.

2020-11-23

    As 2020 comes to an end, let us walk into the forest, immerse ourselves in the woods and the arranged woodland, open our hearts, and take in what the forest will offer us to better our body, mind, and soul. Forestry Bureau has authorized Taiwan Forest Therapy Society to conduct two sessions of one-day forest therapy experience classes at Dongyanshan Forest Recreation Area on December 3rd and 4th, 2020. Come follow us as we enter the towering forest, wander amongst the beautiful Japanese cedar woods embraced by flowing clouds and mists!       Forest is like a health-enhancing machine, which is enriched with oxygen, phytoncide, and negative ions, which have the benefits of preventing diseases and maintenance of overall good health. According to results from monitored surveys, density of negative ions within the forest is more than three times higher than that found in the metropolitan areas; and the various biological activities of phytoncide can also improve human bodies’ immunity and balance body and mind. Furthermore, woods can also directly capture the particulate matters in the air, which would keep PM2.5 value in the forest low and allow for great air quality. In the past, various studies have also shown that while being in the forest, not only would the activity of human bodies’ parasympathetic nerve be enhanced so to help with balance of autonomic nerve and bring forth a stress-relieving effect, activity and quantity of human bodies’ natural killer cells can also be increased, so that body’s overall immunity can be strengthened. As a result, the Forestry Bureau has been actively promoting forest therapies at all national forest recreation areas, and Dongyanshan Forest Recreation Area is exactly one of the demonstration venues for forest therapy.       Dongyanshan Forest Recreation Area possesses flourishing forests with neatly arranged and elegant woods, which are mainly Japanese cedar and man-made cedar forests. Walking amidst the woods, visitors would not only find the man-made forest more organized than the natural forests, they would also see traces of rows after rows of artificial cultivation. At the entrance of Dongman Trail, there lies a memorial rock for the forestation, offering witness of Taiwan’s forestry history. In addition, trace fossils found inside the Forest Recreation Area, which are remains from 30 million years ago, are even more so an extremely rare geological sight. Ecosystem at Dongyanshan is also exceedingly diverse with approximately 43 kinds of mountain birds and countless kinds of mammals – even the Formosan white-headed flying squirrels, which usually can only be found at mid-to-high altitudes, are also spotted here. And the most unique sight of all might be the numerous Formosan hares that are living here – don’t forget to look for them near your feet as you wander amidst the woods! For people who wish to challenge themselves, they are encouraged to climb up Dongyanshan at an elevation 1,212m, where they would be able to look over the magnificent scenes from Taoyuan and all the way to Greater Taipei area.    

Salute to the Mountains – Mountain Cleanup Held at Mianyue Line

2020-11-13

    With its magnificent sceneries, Mianyue Line has become over the recent years a popular hiking route. In order to protect the beautiful mountains and forests and to advocate the concept of “Leave No Trace”, Chiayi Forest District Office of the Forestry Bureau, Chiayi County Mountain Association, Bunun Hiking Team, forest volunteers, and other organizations and mountaineers – a total of more than 70 participants showed their efforts in protecting the forests and held mountain cleanup and “Leave No Trace” advocacy event at Mianyue Line.        Mianyue Line of Alishan Forest Railway, with its unique remains of the old-time railways and primeval natural forest physiognomy along the way, has its tunnels and railway bridges turned into hot photography spots. As large crowds of tourists enter the area, environmental pollution issues resulted. As a gesture to protect the forest, Chiayi Forest District Office and the mountaineers jointly made the vow to oblige to the codes of “Leave No Trace”.       Participants in the mountain cleanup events were all enthusiastic in protecting the forest, picking up trash along the way, and collaboratively restoring the cleanness of the woods.       Chiayi Forest District Office of the Forestry Bureau is calling for everyone’s conscience in protecting the beautiful forests. In response to the opening of the forests, tourists and hiking organizations shall follow the seven principles under “Leave No Trace” – which includes: “plan ahead and prepare”; consider participants’ capabilities; avoid hiking under inclement weather; while enjoying the splendid sights of the mountains and woods, tourists shall also “dispose of waste properly”, such as fruit peels and trash, and if they see any trash left behind, they shall also bring them down. Let’s all treasure our beautiful and precious forests. 

[AOWANDA]Red Maple Leaves and Much More

2020-11-02

The Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area in Central Taiwan TEXT / OWAIN MCKIMM PHOTOS / SHOYA SONG Though one of Taiwan's lesser-visited national forest recreation areas – particularly compared with tourist favorites like Alishan and Taipingshan – Aowanda is certainly no less lovely nor less abundant in its ecological offerings than its more popular counterparts. The Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area in Central Taiwan Situated deep in the center of the island, at the western edge of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range, Aowanda is at its most splendid between late fall and early spring, when the vast forest of maple, Formosan sweet gum, beech, and oak turns from green to russet and the blooming cherry trees daub the deep red swathes of autumn foliage with vibrant bursts of white, puce, and pink. And while it may be at its aesthetic height during the winter months, Aowanda has plenty to merit a visit in other seasons, too. Its size (almost 3,000ha), topography (a series of densely forested terraces and valleys that range between 1,100m and 2,600m above sea level), and location at the confluence of six different rivers ensure a wide range of biodiversity that includes hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, fireflies, and mountain mammals. This fecundity of wildlife, which made the area a prime hunting ground for members of Taiwan's indigenous Atayal, Bunun, and Seediq tribes in the not-too-distant past, today makes Aowanda a prime location for birdwatchers and nature lovers. Central Area Entry to the recreation area (open daily 8am~5pm) costs NT$200 (with concessions for weekday entry, children, students, and the elderly), and the roughly 5km worth of trails can be comfortably explored over the course of a long afternoon – though a whole day could be spent here making a thorough survey of all the park’s points of interest. A short walk from the slightly barebones Visitor Center – where you can pick up a trail map –you’ll find the Nature Education Center, which has excellent information in both English and Chinese about the flora and fauna that call the park home. Beyond the education center is the Cherry Garden Trail, awash in pastel hues in the winter months and verdant with pea-green foliage the rest of the year, overlooking a grassy meadow that would look quite at home in the musical drama film The Sound of Music if it weren’t for the jadeite-hue backdrop of the forested river gorge standing in for Alpine peaks. Nearby, tucked into a shady glade is the Ecological Pond, which creates a similarly European-character illusion, resembling – even down to the Japanese-style footbridge that spans the pond – a scene from Monet's Water Lilies series. From April to June, however, as evening falls the pond relinquishes its air of tranquility to the thrumming of mating frogs and the flashing bioluminescence of courting fireflies. Eastern Trails Walking in the direction of the park’s eastern reaches, you'll first need to descend the St rongman’s Slope – a steep series of wooden steps that takes you from the upper river terrace down 100m to the alluvial plain below. From here you can follow the Maple Forest Walk adjacent to the riverbed, with sweeping views of the rising river valley, or the Bird-watching Trail through the dense inner forest, where you'll be able to spot members of some of Aowanda’s 120-plus bird species, including the endemic Formosan blue magpie, also known as the “long-tailed mountain lady” in Chinese, and the Taiwan barbet, identifiable by its varicolored feathers and distinctive warble. Along these trails, encounters with members of some of Aowanda’s 209 butterfly species, which dine on the forest’s many beech and mulberry mistletoe trees, and Taiwanese macaques, which shuffle through the canopy and seem to have as much fun observing you as you do them, are near certainties. Both trails will eventually lead you to the Bird-watching Platform, where you are gifted with an extraordinary view of Aowanda’s main arboreal attraction – the Pure Chinese Sweet Gum Forest. Located at the confluence of the North River and South River as they become the Wanda River, this gathering of sweet gum specimens (brilliantly scarlet come winter) juts out into the riverbed of this newly formed waterway like the prow of a great ship, bravely pushing into the silt deposited on the plain by successive typhoons. On the terrace above the sweet gum forest lies the park’s easternmost point – the Pine Tree Zone, a forest of Taiwan red pines where the floor is blanketed each year with copper-colored pine needles. To reach the Pine Tree Zone, visitors must first cross the imposing Aowanda Suspension Bridge, which spans the 180m expanse across the gorge. Built to replace a bridge destroyed in 2007 by Typhoon Sepat, the Aowanda Suspension Bridge is certainly not for those fearful of heights – the 90m drop to the riverbed below being enough to make even the calmest of heads spin. Nonetheless, those who do brave the crossing will be amply rewarded with some truly spectacular views of the North River valley as the waterway sweeps down to meet the South River, as well as an eagle’s eye view of the aforementioned sweet gum forest. Food After retracing your steps to the center of the recreation area, a hearty lunch can be taken at the Red Resort Village Restaurant, located in a rustic clapboard building, which serves the kind of classic Taiwanese fare typically found in local rechao or “hot fry” restaurants – braised pork belly with pickled vegetables, sautéed greens and mushrooms, deep-fried stream fish, braised tofu, chicken fried with scallions, and other similarly moreish dishes. You can order a-la-carte or choose one of several set menus designed for groups of up of ten people. Prices range from NT$180 for a single-person light set meal to NT$3,000 for a ten-person set meal containing nine different dishes. Western Trails Shorter than the eastern trails, the paths in the western section of the recreation area take you first past the Retention Basin (built in the late 1950s, and recently reactivated to supply the nearby Wanta Hydro Power Plant with extra water in times of peak energy consumption). In the summer, Pacific swifts, swallows, and Asian house martins hunt water-dwelling bugs in the basin while performing effortless aerial acrobatics. From the basin you can take a trail uphill to a series of picturesque waterfalls (most impressive during the flood season between April and September). The tallest of these, known as the Flying Waterfall, drops 48m and is said to be a potent source of anions – negatively charged particles produced by the friction between the falling water and the air that, according to some sources, have beneficial effects on mood and human health. Accommodation For those wanting to stay in the recreation area overnight, accommodation is available in one of the park’s two villas – the Red Resort Village and the Green Resort Village – or in one of several wooden cabins set back amongst the maple and cherry blossom trees in the park’s central area. Rooms are simple, but pleasantly rustic, and staying in the park after hours will allow you to experience the area’s crepuscular and nocturnal wildlife (particularly desirable during the firefly season). Rates range from NT$1,500 per night for a weekday stay in a two-person room at the Red Resort Village to NT$6,400 per night for a weekend stay in a six-person wooden cabin. Rooms can be booked online on the website (Chinese). Alternatively, plenty of accommodation options can be found in the Qingjing Farm area, about an hour’s drive to the north, or in Puli Township, about an hour’s drive to the west. Getting There If self-driving, Aowanda is roughly 3.5 hours from Taipei City, and less than 2 hours from central Taichung City. Take Freeway 3 to Taichung, then Freeway 6 eastwards to Puli. There, transfer onto Provincial Highway 14 (towards Qingjing Farm). After approximately 30km, turn right onto Da'an Road (Nantou Road 83). After passing the large Wanda Reservoir on your left, turn left as Da'an Road merges into Gaoping Road, and then follow the road to the park's toll booth. Public transport: Between October 1 and March 31 each year, the Nantou Bus Company runs a weekend shuttle-bus service to Aowanda from the Taichung High Speed Rail (HSR) Station, with stops at the Taichung Railway Station and the Puli Bus Station. Tickets can be booked by phone up to two weeks in advance by calling (049) 298-4031, ext. 23. For detailed information, visit Nan Tou Bus Website (Chinese).

[EASY SCENIC TRAILS]The Maolin National Scenic Area

2020-09-30

A Southern Mountain Beauty Known for Indigenous Culture and Butterflies TEXT / RICK CHARETTE PHOTOS / VISION The Maolin National Scenic Area is a unique getaway enclave characterized by heart-lifting mountain scenery, indigenous villages busy with cultural-creative entrepreneurs, soothing hot-spring resort soaking, invigorating trail hikes, titillating butterfly watching, energizing biking jaunts, and heartrate-accelerating river-rafting outings. Taiwan’s national scenic areas are overseen by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. The Maolin NSA is in the deep south northeast of central Kaohsiung, in the western foothills of the Central Mountain Range. Long and comparatively slender, with a north-south orientation, this heavily forested region has three major rivers coursing through it. There are three main sections, centered on riverside villages: in the south Sandimen and Wutai, in the middle Maolin and Duona, in the north Bulao and Baolai. The local population is heavily indigenous. Members of the Rukai and Paiwan tribes, which share many cultural elements, live in the south, Rukai in the middle, Tsou and Bunun in the north. The Rukai and Paiwan are known for striking arts and crafts and traditional dwellings made of slate. Sandimen, a Paiwan settlement, has numerous tourist-friendly studios famed for artworks rich with cultural symbolism. Blessed with many hot-spring sources, the NSA is also home to quality commercially operated hot-spring facilities. It boasts Taiwan’s most extensive distribution of natural stream springs. Zishalishali Trail The NSA has many fine trails. One of the best and most popular starts and ends right at the edge of Maolin village. The settlement, spread out over a small-mountain slope, overlooks the rugged Zhuokou River. The Zishalishali Trail is spread out over the slope above the village. This is perhaps the NSA’s premier locale for butterfly viewing. It starts at the village’s highest point beside its uppermost street, and loops around to end lower on the same street (near the Butterfly Restaurant; see “Dining” section below). One of its manmade highlights is the Maya Pavilion, located at one of its higher points, from which a glorious view of the convergence of the Zhuokou and Laonong rivers is taken in. “Maya” is the native term for the Mandarin Chinese “maolin,” meaning “luxuriant forest.” “Zishalishali” is a native phrase meaning “place of many shell ginger trees.” The name arose long ago; local natives headed uphill to farm small plots passed by many shell ginger trees along the way. Though the trail’s total length is 3.7km, currently just 2.1km is open to the public. Along the way, you’ll encounter squirrels, Taiwan barbets and – circling slowly high above – crested serpent eagles. And don’t be surprised to see more than a few domesticated natives, free-range chickens, scratching about the forest floor looking for tasty treasures. These are from the farm plots you’ll espy through the trees from the main pathway. Of course, the point of your forest foray and the star of the fauna show here, the belle of the ball, is the butterfly. Dwarf Crows account for almost 75% of Maolin’s Purple Crow Butterfly seasonal population, which at times may reach one million or more. Double-branded Black Crows make up much of the rest. Visitors are asked to stay on the trail, so as not to disturb them, and not to touch any of the many encountered resting on trailside vegetation. The Maolin NSA, one of our planet’s two mass butterfly overwintering sites, hosts great flocks of Purple Crow Butterflies (and butterfly admirers). There are four sub-species: Dwarf Crows, Double-branded Black Crows, Striped Blue Crows, and Blue-banded King Crows. Other Area Attractions Near the Zhuokou River’s mouth is the Maolin Entrance Park, which has leisure facilities for tourists. This is on the site of the former NSA administration building, wiped away in the terrible Typhoon Morakot of 2009. The park is filled with indigenous-theme sculptures of stone and steel that are glowingly lit up at night. The stone reliefs at the bases tell the proud history of the local indigenous peoples. Below Maolin village is the striking setting of the Lovers’ Valley Suspension Bridge. This long pedestrian-only structure, decorated with totemic indigenous artwork, leaps the Zhuokou River at a height not far above the riverbed. A trail that begins at the far (south) end delivers you, after an easy 10-minute walk, to the five-level Lovers’ Gorge Waterfall, hidden away in lush forest. Tremendous views of an entirely different sort, from the vantage point of the local birds of prey, await upriver on the soaring Duona High Suspension Bridge, long the only outside connection for Duona village. This is Taiwan’s highest bridge, 103m above the riverbed. The highway that today twists its way up the river valley ends at tourist-welcoming Duona, where a surviving group of 30 traditional Rukai slate houses is being preserved, Taiwan’s largest such cluster. Deengorge Guesthouse The Deengorge Guesthouse is a true hideaway getaway in the deep forest, located just upriver from Maolin village on the river’s south side. Perched on a small mountainside plateau, guests enjoy a sweeping view of the twisting river valley. “Deengorge” is derived from the native place name, which means “place of gathered stones.” Yesteryear Rukai travelers passing through would place beautiful riverbed stones here, in a cool, breezy rest place believed blessed by tribal ancestors. Guestrooms are in structures with exteriors that resemble Rukai/Paiwan slate houses – one multi-room building with covered verandah and a few single-room cabin-style buildings. The rooms, which sleep 2 or 4, are homey, clean, and simple, and some feature appealing wood-beam ceilings. A buffet breakfast is enjoyed in the rustic open-air café/restaurant, decked out with carved-wood furnishings, where coffees, hot chocolate, cappuccinos, fresh Western-style baked treats, and other goodies roll forth. Regular guided nighttime nature tours are offered (Chinese), plus special advance-booking English-language guided tours for up to six people. Deengorge Guesthouse (得恩谷生態民宿) Add: No. 138, Maolin Borough, Maolin District, Kaohsiung City (高雄市茂林區茂林里138號) Tel: +886-2-2408-2332 Facebook Butterfly Restaurant This pleasant, easy-ambience eatery/café/bakery, located in Maolin village, is run by a young Rukai entrepreneur. The open-concept design allows you to watch the kitchen/bakery staff at work. The carved-wood furnishings are complemented by a wealth of indigenous-theme artwork flourishes. Perhaps the most striking is a full-wall mural in black and white, crafted by local youngsters, depicting an olden-times village celebration before a slate house, participants decked out in festive regalia, warriors dancing around a bonfire. Creative indigenous cuisine is served here, along with Western-style baked treats such as handmade French-style breads in which three types of traditional indigenous culinary ingredients are showcased: red quinoa, millet, and pigeon pea. Among the breads, especially savory/sweet scrumptious are the buns made with red quinoa and cranberries. Among the meal delicacies, perhaps most distinguished among the numerous hearty selections is the roast chicken, prepared with mountain pepper (aromatic litsea), another traditional native ingredient, and the a-bai, a type of tamale made with fermented millet and other treats wrapped in edible leaf. Fatty roast pork is usually a centerpiece, but the a-bai here are vegetarian, with peanuts and yam chunks the star additions. The coffees are made with specialty Maolin-grown beans. Bags of Maolin bean as well as Maolin-cultivated red quinoa, a traditional native culinary specialty, are available for take-home purchase. Butterfly Restaurant (巴特芙萊) Add: No. 16, Neighborhood 1, Maolin Borough, Maolin District, Kaohsiung City (高雄市茂林區茂林里1鄰16號) Tel: +886-960-806-702 Facebook Getting There and Around If traveling without your own wheels, note that Taiwan Tourist Shuttle buses on the service’s Northern Pingtung Shuttle Bus route operate between Pingtung Bus Station and the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park, located close to Sandimen village. Regular train service is available to Pingtung Station. Various other public bus options to/from different Maolin NSA destinations are available, notably to/from central Kaohsiung and from Pingtung City. These are detailed on the NSA website, which also provides information on getting around within the NSA – local bus routes, bicycle routes/rentals. Maolin Map

[AOWANDA]Red Maple Leaves and Much More

2020-08-25

[AOWANDA]Red Maple Leaves and Much More The Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area in Central Taiwan Though one of Taiwan's lesser-visited national forest recreation areas – particularly compared with tourist favorites like Alishan and Taipingshan – Aowanda is certainly no less lovely nor less abundant in its ecological offerings than its more popular counterparts.   Situated deep in the center of the island, at the western edge of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range, Aowanda is at its most splendid between late fall and early spring, when the vast forest of maple, Formosan sweet gum, beech, and oak turns from green to russet and the blooming cherry trees daub the deep red swathes of autumn foliage with vibrant bursts of white, puce, and pink. And while it may be at its aesthetic height during the winter months, Aowanda has plenty to merit a visit in other seasons, too. Its size (almost 3,000ha), topography (a series of densely forested terraces and valleys that range between 1,100m and 2,600m above sea level), and location at the confluence of six different rivers ensure a wide range of biodiversity that includes hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, fireflies, and mountain mammals. This fecundity of wildlife, which made the area a prime hunting ground for members of Taiwan's indigenous Atayal, Bunun, and Seediq tribes in the not-too-distant past, today makes Aowanda a prime location for birdwatchers and nature lovers.   Central Area Entry to the recreation area (open daily 8am~5pm) costs NT$200 (with concessions for weekday entry, children, students, and the elderly), and the roughly 5km worth of trails can be comfortably explored over the course of a long afternoon – though a whole day could be spent here making a thorough survey of all the park’s points of interest. A short walk from the slightly barebones Visitor Center – where you can pick up a trail map –you’ll find the Nature Education Center, which has excellent information in both English and Chinese about the flora and fauna that call the park home. Beyond the education center is the Cherry Garden Trail, awash in pastel hues in the winter months and verdant with pea-green foliage the rest of the year, overlooking a grassy meadow that would look quite at home in the musical drama film The Sound of Music if it weren’t for the jadeite-hue backdrop of the forested river gorge standing in for Alpine peaks. Nearby, tucked into a shady glade is the Ecological Pond, which creates a similarly European-character illusion, resembling – even down to the Japanese-style footbridge that spans the pond – a scene from Monet's Water Lilies series. From April to June, however, as evening falls the pond relinquishes its air of tranquility to the thrumming of mating frogs and the flashing bioluminescence of courting fireflies.     Eastern Trails Walking in the direction of the park’s eastern reaches, you'll first need to descend the St rongman’s Slope – a steep series of wooden steps that takes you from the upper river terrace down 100m to the alluvial plain below. From here you can follow the Maple Forest Walk adjacent to the riverbed, with sweeping views of the rising river valley, or the Bird-watching Trail through the dense inner forest, where you'll be able to spot members of some of Aowanda’s 120-plus bird species, including the endemic Formosan blue magpie, also known as the “long-tailed mountain lady” in Chinese, and the Taiwan barbet, identifiable by its varicolored feathers and distinctive warble. Along these trails, encounters with members of some of Aowanda’s 209 butterfly species, which dine on the forest’s many beech and mulberry mistletoe trees, and Taiwanese macaques, which shuffle through the canopy and seem to have as much fun observing you as you do them, are near certainties. Both trails will eventually lead you to the Bird-watching Platform, where you are gifted with an extraordinary view of Aowanda’s main arboreal attraction – the Pure Chinese Sweet Gum Forest. Located at the confluence of the North River and South River as they become the Wanda River, this gathering of sweet gum specimens (brilliantly scarlet come winter) juts out into the riverbed of this newly formed waterway like the prow of a great ship, bravely pushing into the silt deposited on the plain by successive typhoons. On the terrace above the sweet gum forest lies the park’s easternmost point – the Pine Tree Zone, a forest of Taiwan red pines where the floor is blanketed each year with copper-colored pine needles. To reach the Pine Tree Zone, visitors must first cross the imposing Aowanda Suspension Bridge, which spans the 180m expanse across the gorge. Built to replace a bridge destroyed in 2007 by Typhoon Sepat, the Aowanda Suspension Bridge is certainly not for those fearful of heights – the 90m drop to the riverbed below being enough to make even the calmest of heads spin. Nonetheless, those who do brave the crossing will be amply rewarded with some truly spectacular views of the North River valley as the waterway sweeps down to meet the South River, as well as an eagle’s eye view of the aforementioned sweet gum forest.     Food After retracing your steps to the center of the recreation area, a hearty lunch can be taken at the Red Resort Village Restaurant, located in a rustic clapboard building, which serves the kind of classic Taiwanese fare typically found in local rechao or “hot fry” restaurants – braised pork belly with pickled vegetables, sautéed greens and mushrooms, deep-fried stream fish, braised tofu, chicken fried with scallions, and other similarly moreish dishes. You can order a-la-carte or choose one of several set menus designed for groups of up of ten people. Prices range from NT$180 for a single-person light set meal to NT$3,000 for a ten-person set meal containing nine different dishes.     Western Trails Shorter than the eastern trails, the paths in the western section of the recreation area take you first past the Retention Basin (built in the late 1950s, and recently reactivated to supply the nearby Wanta Hydro Power Plant with extra water in times of peak energy consumption). In the summer, Pacific swifts, swallows, and Asian house martins hunt water-dwelling bugs in the basin while performing effortless aerial acrobatics. From the basin you can take a trail uphill to a series of picturesque waterfalls (most impressive during the flood season between April and September). The tallest of these, known as the Flying Waterfall, drops 48m and is said to be a potent source of anions – negatively charged particles produced by the friction between the falling water and the air that, according to some sources, have beneficial effects on mood and human health.   Accommodation For those wanting to stay in the recreation area overnight, accommodation is available in one of the park’s two villas – the Red Resort Village and the Green Resort Village – or in one of several wooden cabins set back amongst the maple and cherry blossom trees in the park’s central area. Rooms are simple, but pleasantly rustic, and staying in the park after hours will allow you to experience the area’s crepuscular and nocturnal wildlife (particularly desirable during the firefly season). Rates range from NT$1,500 per night for a weekday stay in a two-person room at the Red Resort Village to NT$6,400 per night for a weekend stay in a six-person wooden cabin. Rooms can be booked online on the website (Chinese). Alternatively, plenty of accommodation options can be found in the Qingjing Farm area, about an hour’s drive to the north, or in Puli Township, about an hour’s drive to the west.     Getting There If self-driving, Aowanda is roughly 3.5 hours from Taipei City, and less than 2 hours from central Taichung City. Take Freeway 3 to Taichung, then Freeway 6 eastwards to Puli. There, transfer onto Provincial Highway 14 (towards Qingjing Farm). After approximately 30km, turn right onto Da'an Road (Nantou Road 83). After passing the large Wanda Reservoir on your left, turn left as Da'an Road merges into Gaoping Road, and then follow the road to the park's toll booth. Public transport: Between October 1 and March 31 each year, the Nantou Bus Company runs a weekend shuttle-bus service to Aowanda from the Taichung High Speed Rail (HSR) Station, with stops at the Taichung Railway Station and the Puli Bus Station. Tickets can be booked by phone up to two weeks in advance by calling (049) 298-4031, ext. 23. For detailed information, visit Nan Tou Bus Website (Chinese).   English and Chinese: Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area 奧萬大國家森林遊樂區 Aowanda Suspension Bridge 奧萬大吊橋 Bird-watching Platform 賞鳥平台 Bird-watching Trail 賞鳥步道 Cherry Garden Trail 櫻花園步道 Ecological Pond 生態池 Flying Waterfall 飛瀑 Green Resort Village 綠野山莊 Long-tailed mountain lady長尾山娘 Maple Forest Trail 楓林步道 Nature Education Center 自然教育中心 North River 北溪 Pine Tree Zone 松林區 Pure Sweet Gum Forest 楓香林 rechao 熱炒 Red Resort Village 楓紅山莊 Red Resort Village Restaurant 楓紅山莊餐廳 Retention Basin 調整池 South River 南溪 Strongman’s Slope 好漢坡 Wanda River 萬大溪

[TAITUNG]Green Island

2020-07-15

Little Paradise Off the East Coast of Taiwan Less than an hour by ferry from the Taiwan mainland, Green Island is an extremely popular tourist destination during the warmer months of the year, drawing tourists with an amazing mix of high-hill and ocean vistas, unique shops and guesthouses, and world-class snorkeling and diving sites. Green Island is a small volcanic island that sits 33km off the east coast of Taiwan’s main island; it is part of Taitung County. This tropical paradise, named after the vivid green foliage that lines its coast and covers its volcanic hills, has an average temperature of 23.5 degrees Celsius, with temperatures rising above 30 degrees during the summer months. With a circumference of about 20km, this lush, verdant island can be circled in just one hour by scooter, which is the most feasible way to travel around. The 16.3km round-island coastal road passes by small caves, takes you along amazing coastal scenery with deserted beaches, and climbs steep lush hills. Tourists are drawn to the island by its crystal-blue waters and green hills. Green Island provides the perfect escape from Taiwan’s crowded cities, with little traffic and no pollution.   Zhaori Hot Springs One of the best tourist attractions on Green Island is the Zhaori Hot Springs, one of only three natural saltwater hot springs in the world – the others are located in Kyushu, Japan, and Sicily, Italy. Located on the southeast coast of the island, from the hot-spring pools you can view the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. “Zhao Ri” means “morning sun” in Chinese. There are three open-air circular baths close to the sea, filled with a mixture of seawater and underground sulfuric water heated by the magma deep under the island. Apart from the pools by the sea, higher up closer to the entrance there are also five open-air hot-spring pools and the hot-spring area’s other facilities (showers and changing rooms). While the average water temperature of the pools by the sea is 53 degrees Celsius, the temperatures within the pools near the entrance are warmer, as they are closer to the source. The temperature of the source water is so high (90 degrees) that you can even boil eggs in it. Indeed, a special non-soaking pool close to the sea is provided, in which one can boil eggs. The eggs are put in plastic nets and hung from pegs on metal bars placed across the raised pool. It takes a couple of minutes until the eggs are ready to eat. There is also an indoor hot-spring area that is equipped with water jets for relaxing massages. The Zhaori Hot Springs are open almost 24 hours, allowing you to watch the sunrise while soaking, listen to the ocean waves, enjoy a sunset massage, and gaze at the stars after sundown.   Zhaori Hot Springs (朝日溫泉) Add: No. 167, Wenquan Rd., Gongguan Village, Ludao Township, Taitung County  (台東縣綠島鄉公館村溫泉路167號) Hours: 5am~2am (May~September); 6am~12 midnight (October~April)  Admission: NT$200 (swim caps required)     Little Great Wall The Little Great Wall Trail is a 300m path with steep steps that takes you to the top of a high promontory on the east coast of the island. Green foliage lines the winding path, which vaguely resembles China’s Great Wall, hence the name. The short and easy 10-minute walk leads to two pavilions sitting at the edge of a cliff that drops to the sea. There you are presented with breathtaking views of the coast and the azure ocean far below. Looking south from the pavilions, you can see unique rock formations that sit in a bay known as Haishenping. One is the Pekingese Dog Rock, named after its resemblance to the floppy-eared dog. The rock’s left side, seen in profile, faces the pavilions, with the dog looking out to sea like a puppy lying on its belly. Right next to this is the Sleeping Beauty Rock, named because it resembles a beautiful woman lying on her back. The offshore rock seen is in fact just her head, joined to her body (a promontory) by a slender arc of rock – the hole beneath created by erosion – that represents her slender neck. If you look north from the pavilions you’ll see a bay known as Youzihu, home to an abandoned fishing village and a sea cave. The Little Great Wall Trail is a popular scenic spot during the daytime. In addition, because of the limited light pollution here, it’s also a great location for pondering the star-studded sky after the sun goes down, with the Milky Way clearly visible.     Green Island Lighthouse The Green Island Lighthouse is a beautiful white tower located in the island’s northwest corner close to Bitou Cape. It was a gift from the United States after the SS President Hoover liner hit a reef off the island and was grounded in 1937. Locals rescued the stranded passengers, and a year later, as an act of gratitude, the U.S. donated the funds to build the original lighthouse. The current lighthouse, built in 1948 after the original was destroyed in WWII, stands at just over 33m in height, and is reached by ascending a 150-step staircase. The lighthouse offers a 360-degree-view of Green Island. From March through May the area in front of the lighthouse transforms into blossoming fields of wild lilies. Close by is Wuyouku, a beach area with a large pool of saltwater that appears at low tide, teeming with sea creatures.   Green Island Human Rights Culture Park and General Rock In 1949, toward the end of the Chinese Civil War, a period of martial law was declared in Taiwan that was to last until 1987. Under Kuomintang (KMT; a.k.a. Chinese Nationalist Party) rule, many political dissidents were imprisoned in a facility on Green Island. In 2001, the Green Island Human Rights Culture Park was built to commemorate political prisoners oppressed during the martial law period, a time in Taiwan’s history known as the “White Terror.” Part of this 25ha park is the Human Rights Monument, which has a long, descending wall on which former prisoners’ names are inscribed. It leads to a circular structure formed by a series of pillars. Built by a Taiwanese architect, this monument symbolizes freedom, democracy, and human rights, and was the first human-rights monument built in Asia. The General Rock is a nearby coast-side landmark that’s hard to miss from the park. The unique rock formation gets its name from its resemblance to a military officer wearing a steel helmet. Youzihu and Wangong Cave Youzihu is an abandoned fishing village on the east coast of the island. The village played an important role in the island’s early development. In fact, relics from the village area have provided archaeologists with rich information about the island’s history stretching back to prehistoric times. Today, you can still see remnants of some of the abandoned stone houses. The scenery surrounding Youzihu has an out-of-this-world feel. One of the natural attractions is the Wangong Cave (also known as Wangong Arch), accessible via a dirt path. Created by sea erosion, this is a popular spot to take photos. There is also much else to see in the area, including natural pools filled with clear water, interestingly shaped giant rocks, and even a secluded waterfall. You might even spot goats climbing on steep rock faces, a scene more common on Orchid Island (Lanyu) to the southeast of Green Island.     Shilang Beach Green Island, with its pristine blue waters and rich untouched marine environment, is an extremely popular place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Visibility is often 30m or more, and water temperatures are above 20 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Well-preserved coral reefs, tropical fish, sea turtles, and sometimes even sharks make Green Island a diver’s paradise. Visitors can choose from numerous quality outlets on the island to rent gear, take diving courses, and even get certified. Shore diving on Green Island is quite convenient. One popular place is Shilang, notable for its picturesque walkway, which allows you to walk from the white coral-stone beach to the deeper water. Here you can also find the world’s deepest underwater mailbox. This seahorse-shaped mailbox, resembling the rare pygmy seahorse found in Green Island’s waters, is 11m under the surface. Special underwater postcards can be purchased at local dive shops, which after being dropped in the mailbox are collected once a week by a diving postman.     Slow Island Hostel Green Island is best explored on motor scooter, and is especially attractive to young backpack travelers who travel light and seek adventure. You won’t need much luggage to vacation on this little piece of paradise, and the island has many choices when it comes to backpacker hostels. One such place is the Slow Island Hostel, located just 650m from Nanliao Fishing Harbor, where most visitors arrive via ferry. As the name implies, this backpacker hostel emits a laid-back, worry-free vibe. It has an outdoor lounge and garden area with hammocks, patio tables, and even fitness equipment, yoga mats, and board games. The hostel was founded by a well-tanned young man from Keelung, a port city near Taipei. He left the north and headed down to the southeast with a dream of opening a restaurant on Orchid Island, Green Island’s tropical-paradise neighbor, but chose this paradise instead. The hostel is an ideal choice for those on a budget, with small, basic shared bunkbed rooms sleeping four to nine people. Families and couples who want privacy can choose a private room. The hostel is an ideal choice for those on a budget, with small, basic shared bunkbed rooms sleeping four to nine people. Families and couples who want privacy can choose a private room. Slow Island Hostel (綠島緩島旅宿) Add: No. 110-1, Neighborhood 9, Nanliao Village, Ludao Township, Taitung County  (綠島鄉南寮村九鄰110之1號) Facebook     Mr. Hot Dog Across the street from the Slow Island Hostel is Mr. Hot Dog, a restaurant run by the same owner as the hostel. This American-themed restaurant serves yummy burgers, quesadillas, brick oven pizza, and island-inspired cocktails made with Taiwanese liquors. Equipped with a full bar, the trained bartenders craft creative handmade concoctions. Colored ice shavings and LED lights give the drinks a dramatic touch. In the restaurant’s hand-built oven, across from the bar, delicious pizzas are made. Try the pepperoni pizza topped with slices of sika deer meat, an animal associated with the island (though the meat on the pizza is imported from the mainland). The hostel/restaurant owner is very much involved in the restaurant’s day-to-day operations, and shares his passion for cooking. He even invented one of the restaurant’s unique spaghetti dishes, topped with flying-fish caviar. Fried bar bites like French fries and chicken wings, as well as salads and vegetarian dishes, are on the restaurant`s extensive menu as well. Customers are treated like family by the friendly Mr. Hot Dog staff. Each employee’s Instagram account is shared on a beautifully decorated chalkboard, and customers are encouraged to befriend each worker and add them on social media as a new friend.   Mr. Hot Dog (哈狗店) Add: No. 103, Nanliao Village, Ludao Township, Taitung County  (台東縣綠島鄉南寮村103號) Facebook     Green Island Sika Deer Store The sika deer is a spotted, fawn-colored deer that closely resembles the animal from the beloved Disney classic Bambi. Although not native to Green Island, this species of deer for a time outnumbered the island’s human residents after some were brought over in the 1970s to be raised for their antlers. Conservation efforts are now in place to protect the deer, including the government-operated Sika Deer Ecological Park, located along a minor road in the hills south of the human rights park. The sika deer is revered on the island by locals, including the owner of the Green Island Sika Deer Store. Hailing from the Taiwan mainland, he came to Green Island 13 years ago on a working holiday, fell in love with the place, and has been there ever since. His cute Disney-like wood hut souvenir shop – complete with a large sika deer figure mounted on the roof – was originally located in the south of the island. It can now be found close to the island’s airport in the northwest. He sells sika deer-themed items, including hand-painted postcards, magnets, stuffed animals and, most famously, delicious sika deer-shaped egg cakes.   Green Island Sika Deer Store (梅花鹿專賣店) Add: No. 205-1, Nanliao Village, Ludao Township, Taitung County  (台東縣綠島鄉南寮村205-1號) Facebook     Ice Jail Beyond its political prisoners, Green Island’s prison was once known for housing some of Taiwan’s most notorious criminals. As such, it’s not uncommon to find prison-themed establishments that mimic the island’s infamous landmark. One such shop is the Ice Jail, the interior of which is decorated with prison bars and mock-up jail cells. The shop serves traditional Taiwanese shaved-ice treats, with some island-unique toppings. The best-known creation consists of shaved ice topped with seaweed, fresh pineapple, pink and yellow chewy pearls made from cornstarch, seaweed mochi balls (only available in the summer), and condensed milk. All of the ice dishes are served in simple silver bowls to replicate a prisoner’s meal.   Ice Jail (冰獄) Add: No. 48, Yugang, Nanliao Village, Ludao Township, Taitung County  (台東縣綠島鄉南寮村漁港48號 Facebook     Getting There, Getting Around Green Island is accessible via ferry or airplane. There are three flights a day from Taitung Airport (return ticket is NT$2,100). There are several boat services a day from Fugang Harbor, near Taitung City (return ticket is NT$1,100). Scooters are the most convenient way to get around the island; a valid license is required for rentals (rental fee is NT$400 per day). Find more information on the East Coast National Scenic Area website and the Taitung Tourism Bureau’s website.   English and Chinese: Bitou Cape 鼻頭角 General Rock 將軍岩 Green Island Human Rights Culture Park 綠島人權公園 Green Island Lighthouse 綠島燈塔 Haishenping 海蔘坪 Little Great Wall 綠島小長城 Nanliao Fishing Harbor 南寮漁港 Orchid Island 蘭嶼 Pekingese Dog 哈巴狗岩 Human Rights Monument 人權紀念碑 Shilang 石朗 Sika Deer Ecological Park 梅花鹿生態園區 Sleeping Beauty 睡美人岩 Wangong Cave 彎弓洞 Wuyouku 烏油窟 Youzihu 柚子湖 Zhaori Hot Springs 朝日溫泉

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