These days the quiet gardens of the Shilin Presidential Residence (士林總統官邸), which otherwise speak of grandeur and solitude, are buoyed by joy, life and festivities.
Beside a busy road near the new Taipei Port development just outside the center of Bali township stands a rather grand-looking temple. It's larger and taller than the surrounding structures, with a shiny new roof of orange tiles, but there's little at a glance to suggest it's a particularly special temple.
Climate change has become a global issue, and people around the world are trying to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Cars and power stations are recognized as major sources of carbon dioxide, but in fact homes and workplaces are responsible for far more greenhouse-gas emissions than vehicles.
Sizzling summertime has given way to cooler fall temperatures -- an ideal time for cycling in Taipei. Eight kilometers of cycling paths hug the Hsintien (新店) and Tamshui (淡水) riversides on the outskirts of Taipei, offering a lovely afternoon ride all the way to the bustling boardwalk in Tamshui.
Driving along the back roads behind Xichi (汐止), midway between the northern cities of Taipei and Keelung, I stumbled across perhaps the oddest signpost I've seen during all my years in Taiwan. I've witnessed my share of unusual-sounding translations, including "Sun Link Sea" and "Water Running Up," but this one took the biscuit.
Conveniently located at the end of the MRT's red line, Danshui is one of the most popular weekend destinations for residents in the Taipei area. The orange Fort San Domingo must be included in any brochure promoting Taiwan and it's arguably the first place you take visiting friends.
Hemmed in by steep hills crowned with the remains of five old forts, Taiwan's northeastern city of Keelung is a much more interesting, even surprising, place than many give it credit for. Still stubbornly best-known for its (very) wet winters and delicious "miaoko" snacks (廟口小吃), there are enough curiosities, historic relics and places of outstanding natural beauty to keep a visitor amused for a day or more.
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.1 Comment
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.
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.