Nearly three centuries ago, the Dutch stormed the shores of Taiwan and seized a military bastion near the beach in Tainan as their command center. They called this place "Fort Zeelandia," (遮蘭堡) and put the finishing touches on it in 1634, replete with mounted cannons, high brick walls, and a lookout tower to keep an eye out for aboriginal or Taiwanese insurgents.
Taiwan is littered with evidence of geothermal activity. There are dozens of hot springs, steam vents like those in Yangmingshan National Park, and, strangest of all, a number of mud volcanoes.
Looking out at the sparkling harbor - bejeweled and exquisitely beautiful like a newly wed bride - I feel glad to be here for my after dinner sojourn despite the ominous urge to rest and retire after a tiring day.
Traditionally, trips to Taiwan's west coast have involved the consumption of seafood and the appreciation of the sunset. The Shuangchun Coastal Ecology Park in Beimen Rural Township - a thinly populated district in the northeastern part of Tainan County - offers quite different attractions.