Sunday, June 22, 2014

Read extracts from the second edition on Bradt's website

The publisher of my guidebook has posted sizable chunks of the second edition on their website alongside some gorgeous images of Taiwan. In addition to information about how to get to Taiwan and how to travel from place to place once you've arrived, there's an abridged version of the history section, plus segments on highlight destinations such as Little Liuqiu and Shei-Pa National Park.

I took the photo above in Jinmen Hall (金門館) - a seldom visited late 18th-century place of worship in the historic town Lugang - about five years ago, and thought it appropriate as the World Cup is now being played in Brazil...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Direct buses from Tainan to Foguangshan

Since the beginning of this month there's a direct bus between Tainan and Foguangshan, which is good news for tourists into cultural attractions who'd rather skip downtown Kaohsiung. The bus is #8050, and - assuming traffic isn't unusually heavy - takes 1 hour 40 minutes one way (adult fare NTD207). It replaces the old #9122 service.

There are only six services per day. These leave Tainan TRA Station at 06.25, 09.10, 10.10, 14.10, 17.10 and 18.50. The route is quite scenic as it follows Road 182 through Neimen (venue of the Songjiang Battle Array), then Highway 3 into Qishan (where you can board a bus to Meinong). There's no need to change buses in Qishan; stay onboard for the few minutes it spends at Qishan's bus station. The final part of the journey, from Qishan to the monastery, takes less than 15 minutes. In the opposite direction, the first bus setting out from Foguangshan is at 06.15, the last at 16.45.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park

A week ago in Taipei I had time to kill before meeting a friend for dinner, so for the first time I explored Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park (臺北市客家文化主題公園), a short walk from Taipower Building MRT Station. 

It's not a huge green space - just 4.03 hectares - but it is beautifully laid out and maintained. There's a farming demonstration area where rice is grown, a waterwheel, a number of pavilions where you can shelter from the sun or the rain, and a walkway/bikeway that goes over the levee to link with the cycle trails along the Danshui River. There are replicas of the tobacco-curing barns which still dot Meinong in Kaohsiung, and of the oblation furnaces in which Hakka people used to ritually burn any paper bearing written words.

The photo above comes from the park's thorough and bilingual website. Right next to the park you'll find the Taipei City Hakka Music and Theatre Centre, and the Hakka Cultural Centre.