Saturday, September 26, 2015

A typhoon-damaged shrine

Now the 2015 typhoon season is drawing to an end, I thought I'd post this image I took in a mountainous part of Chiayi County back in 2010, of a land-god shrine that was almost totally destroyed by a landslide during Typhoon Morakot, but dug out by nearby villagers, cleaned up and put back into use.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Free half-day tours for transit passengers at Taoyuan Airport

Like several other airports around the world (Singapore being perhaps the best-known example), Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport now offers transit and transfer passengers with at least seven hours before their next flight the chance to see a little bit of northern Taiwan for free.

Each tour last around five hours. The morning tour, which sets out at 8:00, heads inland to Sanxia in New Taipei City for a look at Zushi Temple before proceeding to nearby Yingge, a town best known for its ceramics industry and museumThe afternoon tour kicks off at 13.30 and goes to the heart of the capital, stopping at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Taipei 101

Not everyone can join these tours. Britons, Americans, Japanese, Singaporeans and others whose passports qualify them for visa-free entry are in the clear. Some other nationalities - among them Indians, Thais and Indonesians - can join the tours if they hold a valid visa for or permanent residency rights in the United States, Canada, Japan, the UK, any Schengen nation, Australia or New Zealand.

Each tour is limited to 18 people. It's not possible to sign up in advance, so it's best to get to the waiting point ahead of time. For more details, go here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dodging typhoons on the east coast

We managed to complete our recent East Coast expedition before either of the approaching typhoons made driving unpleasant. Stopping briefly above the gritty harbour town of Suao in Yilan, my wife took this photo of fishing vessels which would normally be at work on the high seas moored out of harm's way. 

Suao is at the northern end of the famously scenic but scary-in-places Suhua Highway; this webpage has several good photos taken along the road about a decade ago. Since then, some of the more dangerous curves and narrower sections have been replaced by tunnels. A major upgrade of the road, due to be completed by the end of 2017, will make getting from Yilan to Hualien significantly quicker and safer. For those who'd rather not drive, there are regular trains; for many years there's been no public bus service along the highway.