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Hsiao Liuchiu: Unknown paradise on the sea

In spite of many threats, the murderers refused to surrender. Finally, the British burned the cave using oil. Needless to say, all the former slaves died there in the cave. Later, it was named ‘Black Spirit Cave,’ which meant it was a cave in which foreigners of a dark complexion had lived… "

Another interpretation is that the "African slaves" in the story were actually Siraya Aborigines, who were related to tribes living in what is now Pingtung County, as far back as 3,000 years ago. Also, research in Chinese provides two versions of the story: one refers to merchant ships, the other to the British Navy.

There are many other fascinating landmarks of note on Liuchiu; The Sea View Pavilion, the Sanfu Ecological Path, Cannon Ground, Sanzu (Mountain Boar) Ditch, Geban Bay, Hai Tzu Kuo, the White Lighthouse, Housi Reef, and Chung Au Beach. The beach has fabulous shell sand beaches and clear seawater teeming with an estimated 176 species of fish and just as many coral species — viewable either by scuba diving, glass boats, or the naked eye.

To appreciate what are considered some of the most stunning landscapes in East Asia, bikes and motorcycles are recommended as the most convenient means of touring the island, and are easy and affordable to rent. Then again, it takes only about three hours to hike around its entirety, along a coastal road.

It is highly recommended to stay a night on the island. Visitors can find good camping sites on the island's sheltered beaches, or choose from several hotels in Penfu Village, averaging about NT$700 a night on weekends. Liuchiu Hotel, 08-861-3281; and Fuhsing Hotel, 08-861-2617 welcome guests.

Besides the warm hospitality of the islanders, Liuchiu is also well-known for its 38 temples — six per square kilometer. The island's spiritual center is Piyun Temple, dedicated to Kuanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. On Kuanyin's birthday, the nineteenth day of the second lunar month, the whole island erupts into festivity — Taiwanese Opera troupes perform twice a day in front of the major temples for forty to fifty days.

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 Hsiao Liuchiu: Unknown paradise on the sea 
The 9-meter-high Liuchiu Vase Coral Rock stands beside the shore. (By Trista di Genova, Special to The China Post)

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