Ever since seeing it marked one day on a local map, Meishan Da Xiagu (梅山大峽谷), nestling in a secluded corner in the far north of Chiayi (嘉義) County, has been high on my list of places to visit, for the simple reason that the Chinese name means 'grand canyon,' a name which conjures up images of awe inspiring cliffs and plunging precipices.
Emerging from the long tunnel through which the main road to the mountain resort of Caoling (草嶺) in Yunlin County (雲林縣) passes, we brake sharply.
From the tropical coast to snow-covered peaks in one hour? A motorbike ride along the Provincial Highway 18 (PH18) from Chiayi (嘉義) City to Alishan Forest Recreation Area (阿里山森林遊樂區) shows the beauty of changing landscapes from sea breeze to chilly wind.
Compared to the island's birds, Taiwan's butterflies do not attract much interest from foreign enthusiasts. The English-language section of the Tourism Bureau's Web site, which has several pages devoted to haunts for birdwatchers, contains just a few references to the insects.
Take a cow and a small grassy field, and, in certain parts of Taiwan, you'll have yourselves a tourist attraction.
If you've lived in Taiwan for more than a month, you have heard of Alishan (阿里山, Mount Ali), and it is there that I ventured one weekend.
Everyone in Taiwan has heard of the famous Alishan (阿里山) sunrise, and it seems that every man and his dog have made the trip at least once.
When you think of a park, you think of trees, grass and a few benches -- a nice little place where a family could spend an hour or two, but nothing very special.
On route 169 to Alishan lies the indigenous village of DaBang (達邦部落). DaBang is the home of the Chou tribe (鄒族).
The natural world contains innumerable different treasures. All of them are special, from the highest mountains right down to the seashore with its ocean sounds, beaches and cliffs.