Taiwan (2007-2016): South-West

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(2009) Tainan and Anping:

Tainan (with its western district Anping) is the most interesting city in Taiwan, with many pieces of historical heritage and atmospheric teahouses and shops.

 

Temple of the God of War.

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In the grounds of the Confucius temple, the oldest in Taiwan.

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Matsu Temple in Anping.

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Prayer cards posted in a temple, asking for good luck on exams.

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Temple lights.

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Various temples.

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Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) Shrine.

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Stone tortoises at Chihkan Towers (Fort Proventia).

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Small restaurant and its courtyard in Anping.

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Small restaurant serving soup with a sausage.

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Chinese pharmacy.

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(2016) Kaohsiung:

Kaohsiung is the second largest city and the largest port in Taiwan. In recent years it has become an increasingly attractive city.

 

Views of the city and the port. The port is between the city center and Cijin Island. Cijin Island is visible in the foreground of the first photo below.

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The redbrick British Consulate built in 1865 on top of a hill at the entrance of Kaohsiung‛s port.

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Ferry traffic between the main land and Cijin Island (visible in the background).

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Statues in the old Matsu temple of Cijin Island.

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Newer temple on Cijin Island.

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Flat fishing boats made of bended plastic pipes, on Cijin Island.

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Kite flying in parks in Cijin Island and central Kaohsiung is popular.

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View at sunset from downtown Kaohsiung. Cijin Island is visible, with its lighthouse at its northern tip.

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Dome of Light at the Formosa Boulevard station of the subway (Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit).

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Night market and its delicacies.

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The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum (http://www.fgsbmc.org.tw/en/) lies in Kaohsiung‛s Dahu district a bit far (over 30km) from the city center. Its construction started in 2008 and ended in 2011. The layout is quite impressive and beautiful (see picture below). However, the details are less so. The 8 pagodas flanking the Great Path to the huge Buddha statue in the back and the 4 Indian-style white stupas at the corners of the Main Hall definitively lack the elegance of older pagodas and stupas. In addition, the mercantile atmosphere throughout most of the museum grounds (shops, restaurants, even a Starbucks, and exhibitions) is distracting.

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(Source: http://www.fgsbmc.org.tw/en/)

 

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(2016) Rueili:

Rueili is a tiny village in Chiayi county, 41km east of Chiayi city. At an elevation of 1100m and surrounded by even higher mountains, the village lives mostly on tea plantations, but also on producing betel nuts and coffee beans. It is not far from the better-known, but also much more touristy Alishan Recreation Area. Rueili is a very quiet place in a beautiful setting. In addition the area has excellent hiking trails.

 

Local map. In red: Rueili-Fenchihu trail. In Green: trail to Longgong waterfall. In gray: Rueili-Taihe trail.

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Small old-fashion shrine along the road soon before arriving in Rueili (coming from Chiayi).

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Views of Rueili.

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Tea plantations around Rueili.

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Harvesting tea leaves.

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Plantation of betel trees (areca palm).

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Plantation mixing betel and coffee trees.

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The Rueili-Fenchihu trail (see path in red in the map above) is an ancient trail that connects Rueili to Fenchihu, another small village on the railway connecting Chiayi to Alishan. This trail was originally created to facilitate trade and agricultural operations. The trail is 6.2 km long and has an elevation ranging between 1100m (Rueili) and 1600m, with Fenchihu being at about 1400m. It traverses superb bamboo forests. As there is no easy transportation from Fenchihu back to Rueili, it typically has to be hiked back (12.4km round-trip).

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In some places the bamboo forest looks like a battlefield, due to recent typhoons.

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In the afternoon clouds are descending over the highest sections of the trail.

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Tiny village of Taihe surrounded by high cliffs seen from the Rueili-Fenchihu trail.

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The village of Fenchihu at the end of the trail is a station on the railway connecting Chiayi to Alishan. This narrow-gauge railway was built during the first quarter of the 20th century under the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Its main purpose was then to carry timber out of the mountains to the west coast. Today, it is used by tourists visiting the Alishan Forest Recreation Area (although an even greater number of tourists use tour buses). The current 71km-long railway begins at 30m in Chiayi and ends at 2216m in Alishan, after passing 49 tunnels.

 

Old locomotive formerly used on the railway, on display in the Fenchihu‛s station.

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Reproduction of the uphill spiral route of the railway between Jhangnaoliao station (543m in elevation, 23.3.km from Chiayi station) and Dulishan station (743m, 4.1km from Jhangnaoliao station) on display in the Fenchihu‛s station. This section of the railway includes 8 tunnels.

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In the main street of Fenchihu. As several bus tours make short stops in Fenchihu on their way to or back from Alishan, tourists often outnumber local people.

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Wasabi roots, wasabi peanuts (top-left of first photo) and wasabi sauces for sale. The area is one of the few places in Taiwan where one can buy fresh wasabi roots.

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The trail from Rueili to Longgong waterfall (path in green in the map above) is very different from the Rueili-Fenchihu trail. Its elevation is lower, ranging between 1100m at Rueili and 650m at the waterfall, and the vegetation is more tropical with a wide variety of great flowers. However, due to lack of transportation, like the Rueili-Fenchihu trail, it must be hiked back.

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Longgong (″Dragon Palace″) waterfall.

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