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December, 4, 2016

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Elsewhere in northern Taiwan
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Travel > Taiwan North > Taipei
A hidden oasis by the northern city of Keelung
Stick a pin into a map of any part of Taiwan, and chances are there'll be something worth seeing within a stone's throw of it. Real caves worth exploring, however, are one of the few natural attractions in short supply. Luckily, on the outskirts of the northern city of Keelung is Mt. Xiaquo and its hidden stalactite caves.
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Guandu: Bird-watching in Tamshui's nature-rich neighbor
For many, Guandu is just another thank-god-we-are-almost-there MRT stop on the way to Danshui. Yet this town is well worth exploring for two reasons--its riverside marshland ecosystem with plenty of bird-watching opportunities, and the major Matsu temple.
 
Ping Ding Old Canal Trail: Yangmingshan's 'Sleepy Hollow'
The calorie-burning Ping Ding Old Canal trail that cuts through a secluded glen in a thickly wooded, low-elevation corner of Yangmingshan National Park is eerily similar to the setting of Tim Burton's film adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1999). While the threat of headless horsemen is fairly minimal, there are enough silent, mist-filled trails meandering through dark forest to keep one guessing.
 
View from the top of Mt. Siaoguanyin
On a clear, sunny day, there's nothing quite like the feeling of euphoria and exhilaration (often relief) as you reach the summit of a hill or mountaintop, throw the pack down, turn around and take in the magnificent panorama that unfolds below.
 
Shihsanhang - a trip back to pre-Chinese Taiwan
Shihsanhang (十三行) is the archeological pride of northern Taiwan -- and a pleasant day trip from Taipei within easy reach of the MRT.
 
Hiking on Zhitanshan in Xindian
It was a sunny morning, clearly the beginning of a lovely day, but I still found myself desperately tossing and turning in bed with a dilemma.
 
An alternative route on Mt. Kwanyin
Right about now is one of the best times to visit Mt. Kwanyin (觀音山), across the estuary from Danshui in Taipei County. While countless hillsides throughout Taiwan turned white last month under the annual deluge of white tung blossoms (which seem even more spectacular this year than ever), Mt. Kwanyin doesn't have a very large population of tung trees.
 
Mt. Kwanyin's hidden natural wonder
Sitting in an MRT train speeding between Taipei and Danshui, it's easy to dismiss Mt. Kwanyin (觀音山), looming across the river, as a great view and little more.
 
Take the long pathway to Sin Mountain
You're tired of being stuck in an office or a classroom all day. You have an itch to get outdoors, but you are also growing more and more annoyed with the weekend crowds that flock to the popular sites throughout Taiwan.
 
The You Rui Stream: Cliffs and caves
Keelung, Taiwan's second port on the island's northeast coast, seems to get a lot of bad press. For many years, I knew it as the rainiest city in Taiwan and a place with a good night market, and that was about it.
 
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