My Travels Around the World

Category: Taiwan

Taiwan Day 7: Taroka Gorge and Final Thoughts on Taiwan

April 1, 2014

Taroka Gorge

One of the benefits of this blog and of posting on facebook now and then, is the comments we get back. When I sent out the blog on our first day in Taiwan, one of my followers emailed back and said, “Don’t miss Taroka Gorge!” Well Alvin, we took your advice. We had one day left with no plans, and while everyone told us that it was too far for one day, we found a tour that would fly us down and train us back.
So we got up at 5:00AM, got box breakfasts from the hotel kitchen and headed in the van to the local airport in Taipei. We boarded the ATR 72 prop plane and headed south. As we took off, the ground crew lined up and waved good bye in the typical Japanese manner. There is still quite the Japanese influence here. We watched the sunrise, ate our box breakfast, and before we knew it, we had arrived.

The plane ride was only 25 minutes to Hualien. Although it had been raining in Taipei, the sun came out and the skies were blue. We were met up by our guide, Josafina and our driver, an older woman. Quite unusual to have a woman driver! Josafina was a firecracker. She grew up in Hualien and kept telling us how she is the best guide there. For example, why doesn’t she give us any brochures? Because she knows all the answers. She certainly made the day fun.

As we drove from the airport, the views of the mountains were magnificent. The plan was to spend the day exploring Taroko National Park. Taroko was established in 1986, is over 227,000 acres and is famous for its marble gorge. In our one day, we would get to explore parts of it.

To read more about Taroko Gorge, including Bailong Bridge, Beipu Village, Bridge of 100 Lions, Changchun, Chimu Bridge, Eternal Spring Shrine, Jinheng Bridge, Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon, Shakadang Trail, Silk Palace Hotel and much more, please click on these links:

7 Taiwan Taroka Gorge

7a Taiwan Taroka Gorge cont

7b Taiwan Taroka Gorge cont

7c Taiwan final thoughts



Taiwan Day 6: Northeast coast

March 31, 2014

Northeast coast of Taiwan

At 12:30 we were picked up in the lobby to set off in a van on a tour of the Northeast coast of Taiwan. The description of the tour promised fascinating rock formations, lighthouses, fishing villages, pastoral farmlands and temples. As we were leaving town, we passed the obligatory Ferris wheel (seems every city in Japan and Taiwan has one). We drove along the coast, heading north. There were no longer any chimneys everywhere or buildings surrounding us (remember I mentioned how dense Taipei is). Instead we saw rising mountain peaks, ocean, unique erosion landforms from the waves hitting the rocks over the centuries, fishing villages and little villages nestled in the crooks of the mountains. The road was narrow with short tunnels cut into the mountains. The views were beautiful of the water and the green mountains with their tips covered in fog, boats on the water, and a lighthouse (I guess the one they promised we would see).

To read more about Pitou Bay, Nanya and Chiufen, click on this link:

6 taiwan Chiufen


Taiwan Day 5: Yingee and Dihua Street

March 30, 2014

Time to work at the Fu Jen Catholic University

On Sunday morning I finally got to do some work. It was a very windy day, so the clouds were blown away and the sky was clear and blue. We were picked up and taken to the Fu Jen Catholic University where the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine was meeting. I was the first of two keynote speakers at the opening of the meeting. I spoke for about an hour and then took questions. The auditorium was quite large and with beautiful flowers lining the front of the stage. Each seat had its own microphone for questions, although no one seemed to use them.

Yingee and the Yingee Ceramics Museum

After the end of the talk, Jenny, the graduate student, along with one of the other students, drove us to Yingee, a town outside of Taipei. We drove north along the river and there was a park with a bike trial all the way, sort of like Riverside Drive in New York. Once we got to Yingee, we met up with Colin Espie and some other students who had come by train.

To read more about Yingee, click on this link
5 taiwan Yingee

Dihua Street

Street is considered the most important and oldest street in Taipei. It goes back to the mid-1800s and was the center of commerce, particularly for medicinal herbs, fabrics, incense, spices, dried fruit and tea – all of which are still sold here today. The street is much like a living museum. It is lined with shops some over a century old. We were fascinated as we walked around trying to identify the different traditional herbs.

To read more, click on this link:

5a taiwan Dihua Street

Taiwan Day 4: Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial and Taipei 101

March 29, 2014

Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial

This morning we once again took the shuttle and train down to the Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial. As many of you will remember, Chiang Kai-Shek was the Chinese political and then military leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975. Chiang Kai-Shek fought the communists and eventually retreated to Taiwan but continued to declare his intention to retake mainland China, which of course he never did. He ruled mainland China for 22 years and then Taiwan for another 30 years. And he is revered here.

The monument in his memory is surrounded by a park that includes the National Theater and the National Concert Hall. The first thing you see is a large, beautiful gate, all white with a blue tiled roof. The memorial itself is also all white with an octagonal roof rising 249 feet above the ground and covered in blue tiles. The blue-and-white colors of the building with the red flowers surrounding it represent the colors of the flag of the Republic of China (i.e., Taiwan). The roof is octagonal because the number eight is a number traditionally associated with abundance and good fortune.

To read more about the CKS Memorial, the Nanmen Market, and the Flower Market, click on this link:

4 taiwan Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial

Taipei 101

Taipei 101 was formally known as the Taipei world financial center and is a landmark skyscraper. It was the world’s tallest building until 2010 when the largest building in Dubai was built. It has 101 floors and the first five are the shopping mall which is filled with, and only with, high end designer shops. Since we had a bit of time, we walked around the shopping mall. When I say designer shops, think every high end designer from Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Versace, Tiffany, etc etc.

As with much and Asia there is symbolism to the design of the tower. The hundred and one floors commemorate the renewal of time, the new century that arrived as the tower was built and all the new years that follow. It symbolizes high ideals by going one better on 100, the traditional number of perfection. At night the building is beautifully lit with neon colors with the bright yellow gleam from its pinnacle representing a candle or torch upholding the ideal of liberty and welcome.

To read more, please click on this link:

4a taiwan Taipei 101


Taiwan Day 3: Karaoke and so much more

March 28, 2014

A morning in the park meeting locals

This morning we got up, were lazy reading and writing for a while, and then went to breakfast. After breakfast we decided to take a walk around the grounds of the hotel, but there wasn’t really much to see. We kept walking and found ourselves in a park that is right next door to the hotel. There were some great views from there. But our first sight was a woman selling vegetables, next to a man using a cleaver to cut up bones parts of an animal with hooves, probably a cow or pig (the local butcher shop). We kept walking up the trail, running into large groups of people hiking around. We heard music and lots of voices and laughter. We kept walking up, up, up many, many stairs. We found a temple, quiet, small in the mountains, where the hiker can stop to pray. It was serene, peaceful and beautiful. We kept going, running into little makeshift stalls, women selling clothes or more vegetables. We kept going up, up, up the stairs through the mountains and through the trees We passed people exercising. We passed a group of people playing badminton. And another group having breakfast on a little terrace or landing. They waved to us and invited us to join them. We smiled and bowed but said no and kept on going.

To read more, click on this link:

3 taiwan a day in the park

Yangmingshan National Park

We decided to grab lunch before our afternoon adventures. We took the shuttle down towards the train station as we had noticed several little restaurants. Everything was in Chinese. But we peeked in to see what people were eating and chose one of the little tiny places serving vermicelli noodles and soup. A simple but filling lunch.

To read more about Yangmingshan National Park, volcanic sulphur pits and hot springs, click on this link:

3a taiwan Yangmingshan

Taiwan Day 2: The National Palace Museum and the Shilin Night Market

March 27, 2014

National Palace Museum

For our first adventure, we grabbed a cab and headed to the National Palace Museum. The NPM, as it is known, has the largest collection of Chinese artifacts in the world. It was originally founded in 1925 in Beijing in the Forbidden City, which is why it is called Palace Museum. As different wars raged in China, the collection
was moved first to the south and then to Taiwan.

To read more, click on this link:

2 taiwan national palace museum

Taipai, Taiwan Day 1

March 26, 2014

We left Los Angeles on March 25 at noon and arrived, via Narita (Tokyo) in Taipai, Taiwan (for those of you who remember some history, Taiwan was once called Formosa) at 10 at night on March 26. One very long day. Customs line was long, but moved somewhat quickly. By the time we made it through our bags were circling on the carousel waiting for us (yes, we sent our bags through). Our driver was waiting for us, with a sign with my name. That does make life so much easier as there were throngs and throngs of people (a theme to be repeated).

Taiwan – Heading to Taipai

March 25-26, 2014

Arriving in Taipai, Taiwan

It is always difficult to arrive in a new city at night, because you can’t get oriented, you can’t tell what you are looking at and you have no idea where you are. We did see some young men playing basketball in a lit, outdoor court (note – it was 11:30 at night!). And lots and lots of motorcycles parked one next to the other (another theme to be repeated). After about a 30 min drive, we arrived at the Grand Hotel. The first sight is a large Chinese Gate (Paifang) at the entrance, followed by a long driveway lined with flowers up to the massive Chinese building.

To read more, click on this link

1 Arriving in Taiwan

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén