The Taipei-Ilan National Freeway has reduced the journey from Taipei to Ilan (宜蘭) by more than 3 hours. Traffic permitting, one can now reach the seaside town within an hour from Taipei city.
The Taiwanese have come a long way in their appreciation of this land's great natural beauty in the last decade or so. It wasn't so many years ago when, following a trail up to Bu Dong Waterfall in the foothills of Yangmingshan one day, I was shocked to see the beauty of the gorge below the falls completely ruined by a very large and supremely ugly cement viewing platform, edged with clunky, concrete faux bamboo railings and large, spherical street lamps atop tall lampposts!
For people living in large, heavily populated areas such as Taipei area it is quite an event to see an ancient forest once in a while. As a matter in fact, in Taiwan there happen to be several accessible locations with tree Methusalahs, the most notorious one probably being the sacred trees of Alishan.
Taoyuan Valley (桃源谷), located at the border of Gong Liao Hsiao (貢寮鄉 Township) of Taipei County and Toucheng Town (頭城鎮) of Ilan County, is a 3-km long grass hill. Its landscape is quite like the Cingtiangang grassland of the Yangmingshan National Park, but the view is much more beautiful than the one at Cingtiangang.
The eighth annual Yilan Green Expo (宜蘭綠博會) is here! This year's exhibits are enigmatically bound together by the enchanting theme -- Dance With Spring.
The Jhao Yang National Trail mixes a subtropical forest, sea breezes, and monstrous seaside cliffs for one of the best coastal treks in Taiwan.
When Taiwan was ceded to the Japanese with the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, officials and administrators were sent from Japan to Taiwanese cities and counties to administer the populace. The Ilan homes were built in 1906 for the Ilan County magistrate.
A gong beats. Instruments sore. The actors on a brightly lit stage sing. The opera begins. In this opera, however, there are no obese tenors belting out soaring Italian arias. The words, songs and the performance are all uniquely Taiwanese.