Ping Lin and Mao Kong are two place names inextricably linked with tea in the minds of many Taipei dwellers, but they're far from the only places around the capital where Taiwan's favorite brew is grown.
Hikers heading up the winding mountain road en route to the popular peak of Lion's Head Mountain (獅頭山), high above the southern Taipei suburb of Xindian (新店), could be forgiven for missing an inconspicuous marble tablet nestling in the undergrowth beside the road.
Daxi (大溪) recently drew quite a bit of media attention thanks to political battles over the fate of Chiang Kai-shek's and Chiang Ching-kuo's mausoleums -- and for that matter, their bodies as well.
Some say the only true way to see a county is to travel around it on two wheels, the leg-powered variety, and what better place to do it than on this beautiful island of Ilha Formosa!
Although it's been open for less than a week, word has got around and we're far from the only ones enjoying the spectacular scenery as we return to the visitor center after our long walk.
Perhaps you've lived in Taipei for a while now. And perhaps there are times when you realize, "hmm, my life here isn't so different than it was back at home," and so in an attempt to soak up some atmosphere and culture, you hustle off to Danshui or Jiufen or any other small, mountainous village, only to realize that once you've been to one "lao jie" (old street), you've pretty much been to them all.
A red maple leaf fluttering in the air, dainty pavilions dotting tree-lined trails, sonorous waterfalls and tranquil ponds--these are the images of Yangmingshan (陽明山) that I hold very dear to my heart.
Guidebooks and maps are great ways to explore the countryside, but, as with so many things, some of the best discoveries are passed on through word of mouth.
The Lin Family Garden in Banciao (板橋林家花園) is the oldest example of a traditional Chinese garden in Taipei. The construction of the enormous complex began in 1847 when Lin Ping-hou, a rich rice merchant, started building Bi-Yi Hall at Banciao.
When it comes to scenic beauty, Taiwan offers everything from remote alpine summits that take a week's hard trekking to reach to grassy, roadside slopes made for a blanket picnic; a fantastic variety of natural beauty of a rare order can be found squashed into this small island if you know where to look.