Taiwan's mountains aren't just extremely scenic, they're also a great natural rain maker. Triggering rain-bearing clouds to drop their load as they blow in from the east and rise on updrafts caused by the mountains, residents of Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung have the Central Mountain Range partly to thank for the excellent, relatively dry climate they enjoy year-round.
Caoling Geopark is the kind of place that receives only the briefest of stops from most visitors, who pull into the car park, take a quick look at the destroyed hillside in front (now somewhat softened as Nature begins to reclaim the area), read the several short info boards nearby, and then leap back in the car in search of Caoling's more visually compelling attractions, of which there are a number.
The second most-famous temple in Yunlin County's Beigang Township (雲林縣北港鎮) has the misfortune of being just a few hundred meters from one of South Taiwan's best known places of worship.
Imagine riding a motorbike down a country road. Steep river-valley walls fall away beneath you on one side, and on the other, dense vegetation covers the hillside.
If Gukeng (古坑) in Yunlin County (雲林縣) was ever famous, it was only due to its coffee. The town and surrounding area are one of the only places in Taiwan where it's possible to grow coffee beans, and people have long been traveling from as far away as Taipei and Kaoshiung to drink the product.
Beigang (北港) Town, located in Yunlin (雲林), central Taiwan, is one of the most famous religious towns in Taiwan. It is the home of Taiwan's oldest Matsu (媽祖) temple, also called Chaotien Temple (朝天宮).
One of the highlights of a visit to the little village of Shibi, one of Yunlin (雲林) County's most scenic spots, is the journey there.
The little Neihu Stream doesn't flow for very far, measuring less than five kilometers from its source on the border between Nantou and Yunlin counties to its mouth, where it flows into the much larger Clearwater River
Although it's only a little after nine in the morning, the sun is beating down fiercely on us as we're riding rented scooters along a mountain road, winding down into the deep gorge of the Neihu Stream in Yunlin's mountainous eastern extreme.
One of the delights of living in Taiwan is that, even after years of traveling within the island whenever I get the chance, there still seem to be plenty of interesting places I've not yet visited.