Xiaoliuqiu Island 小琉球

Xiaoliuqiu Island 小琉球 is a small island off the cost of Taiwan just below Kaohsiung.  Although it is probably one of the least well known of Taiwan’s smaller islands, it is the easiest to access and quite a nice weekend away.

Little Liuqiu is located 14km off the coast of the port town of Donggang, itself located about a hour’s drive south of Kaohsiung.  It’s total land mass is only about 6.8km, and about 13,000 people live there permanently.  Xiaoliuqiu is uniquely located in an area that protects it from rough seas and northeasterly monsoons.  It’s climate is generally dry and warm, and it is the only coral island located near Taiwan.

Xiaoliuqiu Island, near Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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

Smangus

Smangus (司馬庫斯) is one of Taiwan’s most remote aboriginal villages.  So far remote, that it has developed for itself an air of mystery and has become a popular, if not difficult to get to, destination.

I recently took a short trip there to help Taiwan Adventures develop a future tour to the area.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have as much time to explore the village and surrounding sights as we would have liked, but I will return soon with a better report.  Check the website or facebook page for more information about organized trips…  read on for more photos and information.

A thick, bamboo forest in Smangus, Taiwan.

A hiker enjoys the bamboo forest near Smangus, Taiwan.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

River Tracing

River tracing in Taiwan is an excellent way to explore some of the more remote areas of Taiwan, and a great way to beat the summer heat.  Being such a steep, mountainous country, Taiwan has hundreds of small rivers loaded with clean water, waterfalls, and cool, refreshing pools to swim in.  Taking a river tracing tour has become more and more popular in the last few years amongst locals and expats alike.

River tracers relax at a remote waterfall in Northern Taiwan

Remote waterfalls like this one are rarely seen by most people. The only way to get there is by spending a few adventurous hours in a river with your friends.

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Categories: Hiking, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Xiangdong Fairy Cave 仙洞巖

The Xiangdong Fairy Cave 仙洞巖 is a one of the many small but interesting attractions in Keelung, Taiwan 台灣基隆.  It’s set in the opposite direction form most of the attractions located near Zhongzheng Park, but is well worth a visit on any visit to the port city.

Sandwiched between a sharp bend in the road, the overwhelming Keelung Harbor, and an imposing cliff, the Fairy Cave is easy to miss.  If not for the giant golden Buddha statue at the entrance, the cave could easily be mistaken for any average roadside shrine.  Inside the cave can be found several shrines to the Buddha and other Buddhist deities, set at the ends of two long, narrow passages.  The main chamber is interesting enough with its chandeliers, small shrines, and smaller golden Buddha, but directly behind it is another cave with beautifully carved bodhisattvas and a main shrine dedicated to the Buddha.

Down the long, narrow, wet passage to the left is a small, uninspiring shrine to Guanyin (I think) but the passage is the main attraction for most visitors.

Xiandong Fairy Cave 仙洞巖

Inside the Xiandong Fairy Cave is a long, narrow corridor that leads to another small shrine.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shitiping 石梯坪

Shitiping 石梯坪 or (“Stone Steps” in Mandarin) is a small campground in Taiwan’s East Coast National Scenic Area.  The campground sits on a beautiful stretch of rocky geology formed by a mixture of coral reefs, sea erosion and cliffs.  The waters of the reef features some great diving and snorkeling in clear waters.

About a 6 hour drive from Taipei, Shitiping is located about 70km south of Hualien on Highway 11, not quite half way to Hualien’s sister coastal city, Taitung. It’s probably one of my favorite campgrounds in the world, and definitely one of my favorite places in Taiwan.

Lots of people come to Shitiping to go fishing with poles, or by snorkeling around the reefs.

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

I’m Really, Really, Really Sick of the Rain

It’s been raining in Taipei for 6 weeks.  Seriously.  I usually don’t complain about stuff like this, especially on here, but I’m going completely insane.

A bigger problem is that I also have writers’ block and even squeezing out this self-absorbed rant is difficult.  One of the big problems with writing a new blog post is that I have so much stuff from the last year that I haven’t written about, I don’t even know where to start.  I think I have 10, half written posts in my “Recent Drafts” folder, none of which I’ll probably ever finish.

So here’s my solution to that:  I’m going to throw up all (most) of the photos I want to write and/or talk about in this one post and just clear them out of the way.  Then I can get started one new stuff.  Chinese New Year is only a week away!

There’s actually A LOT of information here, if you click all the links.

To see larger galleries of images similar to each one below, click on each image…  To read more about each location, click on the links under each image.

A summer sunrise at my favorite campground, Shitiping, Taiwan.

The above image was taken at Shitiping Campground, on Taiwan’s beautiful east coast.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Taiwan Adventures iPhone Travel Guidebook

Taiwan Adventures iPhone Guidebook is a brand new way to learn about Taiwan as you travel through it.  The “book” has over 900 entries featuring Taiwan’s best travel highlights.  Useful to tourists and expats alike, the APP has entries describing everything from renting a car or scooter to finding that western food that you’ve been craving.  A sample of the Guide is a downloadable from the iTunes Store for free.

Several of my colleagues and I have been working on this guide for nearly a year now.  We’ve traveled to nearly every corner of Taiwan to find you the most interesting places, both famous and unknown.  We’ve tried to push our favorite part of Taiwan – its amazing natural beauty, but have also scoured the cities for the best they have to offer.

You can get a small sample of the Guide for free from the iTunes Store, then the five divisions of Taiwan (Taipei City, Northern Taiwan, Eastern Taiwan, Central and the South) are a small additional fee.

All the entries have several photos (over 2,000 all together), many of which are exclusive to this APP.

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Categories: Must See Taiwan, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Snow Mountain 雪山 – Dec, 2011

Snow Mountain (aka Xueshan, and a few other spellings) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes in Taiwan.  I’ve been lucky enough to have done it several times now, and each time seems to get better and better.

Just this past weekend, Taiwan Adventures took took a group of hikers for a two day, two night adventure on this high mountain.  We had great people, great weather and a great time.

Hiking to Snow Mountain, Taiwan

The afternoon sun highlights some cliff ridges on the hike to Snow Mountain, Taiwan.

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

Sun Moon Lake 日月潭

Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) is one of Taiwan’s most popular weekend getaways.  It’s a large, stunningly beautiful lake conveniently nestled in the Central Mountains.  It has almost everything you could want in a weekend escape: from family friendly camping to five star hotels; adventure and exercise to spas and relaxing; and of course lots of culture and beautiful lake views!

The last time I visited Sun Moon Lake, I was only able to stay for about 24 hours, but in that time, I was able to see and do quite a few awesome things!  Today I’m going to write about three places that can be visited in a half day: Syuanguang and Syuanzang Temples, and the Cien Pagoda.  All three are connected by the short Mt Cinglong Hiking Trail (青龍山步道) that starts at the Syuanguang Temple’s pier and continues up to Syuanzang Temple and on to Cien Pagoda (You actually have to walk on the road for a short time, but it’s still quite nice).

For more information on Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) visit Taiwan Adventures Travel Guide (跟著老外玩台灣).

The beautiful Cien Pagoda stands towers above Sun Moon Lake in Central Taiwan.

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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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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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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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My 7 Links

My 7 Links is a project started by someone somewhere that basically asks bloggers to find 7 of their old posts for 7 different categories. Since I’m trying to light the proverbial blogging fire under my keister again, it seems like a good idea to help me out a little.

So without further blather, I give you my 7:

1. Your Most Beautiful Post:

This is probably the hardest one to choose, but I went with a one time event that I shot a few years ago.  It was the opening ceremonies for the 2009 Taipei Deaflympics, an international event that brought a lot of people to the city.  The city hired a carnival of-sorts to put on the opening show.  It was a really beautiful event with acrobats on cranes and balloons and I was quite happy with the images that I left with.

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Categories: Inspirational Links, PHOTOGRAPHY | 5 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

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