TAIWAN

Taiwan Adventures Online Guide Book

Taiwan Adventures Online Guide Book is a project that my partners and I have been working on for the better part of the last year.  It is a free, online travel guide to Taiwan.  It has over 800 entries, is available in English and 中文, and will very soon be available as an iPhone App (Ready sometime before the end of September).

It has been A LOT of work to compile, visit, photograph and write about all of these places, but it has also been really rewarding.  Hopefully now I can get back on track and start writing some blog posts about the best of these wonderful places.

An online guidebook to Taiwan with lots of travel information and advice.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Ghost Month in Taiwan

Ghost Month is a traditional celebration held in most Chinese communities around the world, and of course in Taiwan. It is believed that this month is a sort-of vacation for all the ghosts living in Hell, and they are welcomed to walk the earth among the living.  Many special precautions are taken to insure that the ghosts don’t hang around, like burning spirit money, guarding ones address and not moving house for fear that one of the ghosts might decide to stay in the new house.

In Taiwan, no city celebrates Ghost Month more vigorously than the harbor city of Keelung (基隆).  They have parades, ceremonies and other events on almost every day of that month.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend as many events as I would have liked this year, but I did get to one of the most important days, the Ghost Festival Parade held on the 15th day of Ghost Month.

Ghost Festival in Taiwan 2011

One of the musicians in the 2011 Keelung Ghost Festival Parade relaxes before the start.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hiking Songluohu 松蘿湖

Songluohu (or Songluo Lake) is another small lake in the mountains near Yilan, Taiwan.   It’s a medium difficulty hike, mostly because the trail spends a lot of time crossing slippery tree roots, rocks and muddy slopes.  The 4 to 5 hour hike is well worth the effort though, as the lake itself is surrounded by small mountain peaks and is quite a unique sight.

We lead the second of our overnight hiking trips there about a week ago, so I thought I’d share the photos.

Hiking Sonluohu Lake Taiwan

The sunrise was beautiful.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Martyrs’ Shrine 國民革命忠烈祠

The Taiwan Martyrs’ Shrine (officially The National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine 國民革命忠烈祠) is set on the side of Qingshan Mountain very close to the Grand Hotel and the neighborhood of Neihu (內湖區).  It’s hallowed ground, dedicated to those who fought and died for the Republic of China in the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War and the First and Second Taiwan Straight Crises.  About 390,000 soldiers died in these wars, and their spirit tablets can be found here.

Twice a year, the President of Taiwan and high officials come to the Martyr’s Shrine to pay their respects to the fallen war heroes.  But what many people come to see is the changing of the guard ceremony, which happens every hour on the hour.

The MArtyr's Shrine in Taipei, Taiwan

See military precision at the Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Four Beast Mountains – Yongchun

My series of blog posts on hiking The Four Beast Mountains has become one of my most popular series since I’ve started blogging.  Now that spring is back upon us, I’ve noticed that those posts are getting more and more hits.  I can only guess that everyone is looking to get get some exercise!

So here’s a new post.  It’s going to be mostly just pictures, but they are all from an area that I glossed over in the last three posts.

The general Yongchun area consists of two high schools, a small military base, several temples, and a few apartment building neighborhoods.  The entire basin of this area (roughly 600m x 100m) was a shallow lake just a hundred years ago or so.

Promise King

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, TAIWAN, The Four Beast Mountains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Holy Ridge 雪山聖稜線

The Holy Ridge 雪山聖稜線 is one of Taiwan’s most famous big hiking trails.  It’s a stunning hike along a long ridge line that usually takes about 5 days.  It crosses several high peaks, including Taiwan’s second highest, Snow Mountain 雪山 (Xueshan) at 3886 m (12749 ft).  The ridge is so long that three full days can easily be spent at over 3,400 m.

My friends and I hiked The Holy Ridge recently in a four day blitz.  We achieved this by starting at midnight and hiking in the dark for an hour, then skipping the Snow Mountain Peak.

A Hiker Above the Clouds

A hiker looks out on a sea of clouds on Taiwan's Holy Ridge, a hiking trail on and around Snow Mountain (Xueshan).

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Longshan Temple 龍山寺

Longshan Temple 龍山寺 (aka Lungshan and Mengjia 艋舺龍山寺) is the oldest and most well-known temple in all of Taiwan.  What’s truly wonderful about it, is that despite being a major tourist destination, Longshan Temple retains it’s charm and genuineness by remaining a place of daily worship.  The area around Longshan can be quite interesting as well, and features traditional markets, calligraphers, traditional medicine shops, fortune tellers, and a place called Snake Alley.  All these reasons and more are why Longshan Temple is on my list of must see places in Taipei.

Crowded on Chinese New Year

Throngs of Buddhists and Daoists pack Longshan Temple in Taipei on Chinese Lunar New Year 2007.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Yehliu GeoPark and Other Coastal Geology

Yehliu GeoPark (野柳地質公園) is a popular stop on the Taiwan tourist circuit.  It’s an interesting set of geological formations found in a small park about 20 minutes north of Keelung, Taiwan.  Truth be told, the entire length of eastern Taiwan is an interesting set of geological formations, but here you can find them all in one small area with a coffee and souvenir shop.  If you’re only in Taiwan for a short time, or don’t have any transportation of your own, this it the place to go to be awed by Mother Nature’s artistic side.

Yehliu Taiwan

An overview of the most popular area of Yehliu GeoPark.

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Categories: Motorcycling, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 74 Comments

Snow Mountain - 雪山

Snow Mountain (雪山) is Taiwan’s second highest mountain at 3,886m (12,749ft).  Located in Shei-Pa National Park, the most popular trail to the peak is called the East Xue Trail and is quite a beautiful one.  The trail passes through a variety of scenery including open grass fields, several different pine forests and a stunning ex-glacial cirque.  Despite the fact that I say the following after nearly every hike in Taiwan: This might be one of the best hikes I’ve ever been on!

It’s possible to hike Snow Mountain (aka XueShan or Syue Mountain) on a two day weekend from Taipei, but it’s difficult.  We spent an excruciating Saturday hiking for about 13 straight hours.  Our day started at 3 am and finished at dusk.  In between, we were lucky enough to have some beautiful weather and see some beautiful sites…

Snow Mountain East Peak

The East Peak of Snow Mountain pokes out of the mist during an early morning sunrise.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Random Taiwan Images

Here are my most recent “random” images from Taiwan.  It’s quite a mish-mash this time with images from the beach, the mountains, the city, a drainage ditch in Banqiao, and even one from a night club.

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone over at Taiwanderful.net for holding the yearly “Best Taiwan Blog Award”.  I’m very honored to report that I’m a co-winner this year for the Best Overall Taiwan Blog and the Best Taiwan Photography Blog!  I’ll be sure to keep up the posting and I have a few new blog posts simmering that I should be able to put up in the near future.  Thanks everyone!

This first image was featured in a album on my facebook page called “Critique Me.”  If you’re trying to progress as a photographer, I would highly recommend asking for critiques from your peers.  It’s an invaluable way to get a different perspective of your images.  (Just don’t forget to wear your thick skin!)

Taiwan Economic Contrast

Old world meets new in a Taipei, Taiwan alley.

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Categories: PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jialuo Hu 加羅湖 Revisited

Jialuo Hu 加羅湖 is a mountain lake found high in the mountains of northern Taiwan. Only 70km southwest of Yilan, the trail head is a three hour drive from Taipei. The hike to the lake takes about another three hours, making this an awesome weekend away from Taipei’s bright lights.

This was the second time we hiked up to the beautiful lake, so I’ll keep this post short, and get right to the newest pictures:

Dream Catcher at Lake

A dream catcher-like spider web reflects the morning sun on Jialuo Hu Lake, near Yilan, Taiwan.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Must See Taiwan – Shiding and Shenkeng

Shiding (石碇) and Shenkeng (深坑) are two small towns found just to the east of Taipei, Taiwan.  They’re both withing 3o minutes of Taipei’s  convenient MRT system and together, they make for a great day trip out of the city.

Shiding (石碇)

Shiding is a simple mountain village located at the convergence of two small mountain streams.  It’s got an old-time Taiwan feel to it, and in fact has many stores that are over a century old.  It also has two very clean, fish-filled streams that come from virgin forests high above, in the nearby mountains.

Tree roots overgrowing an old doorway in Taiwan

Doorways don't get much cooler than this.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hiking Jade Mountain 玉山

Jade Mountain (玉山) is Taiwan’s tallest mountain at 3,952 m (12,966 ft).  It’s located within the Yushan National Park (玉山國家公園) just next to the famous Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山國家風景區) in the central mountains of Taiwan.  If measured from the nearby ocean floor, the Jade Mountain Main Peak rises an impressive 8,000 m in only 100 km.

Getting a permit to hike Jade Mountain is no easy task.  My friends an I applied 14 times before finally receiving a permit to hike it on a weekend (A big thanks to Stu Dawson for his tenacity).  We received a second round of good luck by getting perfect hiking weather on the 4th of July weekend.  The trail to the peak is beautiful, and this hike is an absolute must-do for anyone with an adventurous soul living in Taiwan.

The Jade Mountain Main Peak as seen from the West Peak hiking trail.

The Jade Mountain Main Peak as seen from the West Peak hiking trail.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Hiking Xiaozi Shan in Pingxi (孝子山平溪)

I went on another weekend hike with Stu recently, this one to Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) and its nearby mountains located just to the south of Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.  We had a good time as usual, enjoying the first rain-free Sunday that Taipei has seen in months.

XiaoZi Shan and it neighboring mountains, Cimushan (慈母山) and Cimufeng (慈母) are all just a few minute’s hike from the 106 highway and downtown Pingxi.  They all feature sheer-rock faced peaks with awesome views of the surrounding mountains and the Pingxi valley. What’s unbelievable about this area, is that all of the peaks are accessed by a trail “intersection” that has 4 different trail heads withing 40 meters of each other, and the peaks are all within a 30 minute hike from there!

Stu and I spent a few hours hiking up and down all the different peaks, then wandered home on a back trail and still got home for a late lunch, which has to make this area THE most accessible and best bang-for-you-buck hikes in all of Taiwan…

Hiking near Pingxi, Taiwan

A couple of men descend from the peak of Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) on a aluminum ladder in Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Yangming Shan and Taiwanese Volcanoes

I’m pretty sure that most people in Taipei don’t realize that they live at the base of a volcano.  What might be even more unsettling is that all indications show that there are still active magma cambers under northern Taiwan.

The Tatun Volcanic Group 大屯火山群 is a group of volcanoes that make up most of Yangming Shan National Park 陽明山國家公園, the large mountainous park that is just to the north, but technically within Taipei City limits.  The largest is Qixing Mountain 七星山 (Seven Star Mountain) at 1,120 meters (3,675 ft); the next is Datun Mountain 大屯山 and there are many smaller parasitic volcanoes whose peaks can be seen around the park.

One of the most obvious to the naked eye is a mountain called Huangzui Shan 磺嘴山, to the northeast of Qixing Shan and Taipei City.  It’s also one of the only ones with an obvious cauldron that you can hike into…

Unfortunately, we chose to visit on a day that you could barely see you hand in front of your face…

Hiker in Bad Conditions

A hiker in a rain storm walks through tall grass in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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