Sunday, January 26, 2014

Everyday but delicious Taiwanese dishes

This 2012 article from CNNGo describes 45 easy-to-find Taiwanese foods, all of which are delectable if done well, and gives suggestions where visitors can enjoy them. (Most are in Taipei). 

The Chinese script for each dish makes the article especially useful - no need to decipher Chinese-language menus or attempt to speak Mandarin - and people eager to try mainstream Taiwanese fare would do well to print out the article.

My favourites are nos. 6 and 14. No. 11 is often known by its Japanese name, tempura.

Food Culture in Taiwan has some useful background information about Taiwanese seafood, night market snacks and aboriginal cuisine.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Taiwan in The New York Times and The Guardian

In a short article playing up swanky new hotels, as well as the much-loved old favourite Kenting National Park, The New York Times last weekend ranked Taiwan no. 11 on its list '52 Places To Go In 2014'.Taiwan's tourism authority is, of course, delighted by such positive coverage.

Also recently, The Guardian featured Taiwan among its 'Holiday hotspots: where to go in 2014.' Putting Taiwan no. 35 on a list of forty destinations, the British newspaper stressed the island's culinary attractions. Unfortunately, both links in the final paragraph are dud. There are contact details for Taiwan Food Adventures here, while the correct website for Jodie's Kitchen is here.

Neither article mentioned Taiwan's stupendous mountain scenery. To redress the imbalance, here's a photo I took several years ago in Yushan National Park.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Shenao Branch Railway reopens to passenger traffic

From this weekend, tourists will be able to take trains along the short but scenic Shenao Branch Railway (深澳線) for the first time since passenger services ended in 1989. The railroad was originally built to carry coal to power stations; freight services didn't cease until 2007.

The line has been restored as part of a development plan centered around Badouzi (八斗子), a little fishing port near Keelung. Trains will start from Ruifang (瑞芳), a nondescript town already well-known to railway enthusiasts as a place where they can begin to explore Shifen and the Pingxi Branch Railway (平溪支线). The Shenao Branch Railway is 4.2km long and provides good views of Taiwan's rugged northeast coast. Trains, of which they'll be 20 per day, will take just 8 minutes to reach the new National Museum of Marine Science & Technology. Another nearby and worthwhile attraction is Houtong Coal-Mine Ecological Park.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kinmen travel report

For an inspiring and useful report on Kinmen, with good suggestions as to places to go, click here. Kinmen appeals to a lot of tourists - Asian as well as Western - on account of its well-preserved and exceptionally photogenic traditional and semi-Western architecture, industry-free environment and tasty local food. In the colder months it's also a birdwatching spot of note.

Direct flights link Kinmen to Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung. There's no ferry service from Taiwan but there are frequent boats between Kinmen and Xiamen in the PRC.