Saturday, September 08, 2007

Taiwan - August/September 2007

We returned to Taiwan for the first time in 14 years. Some things have not changed: Taipei is still very crowded, very humid, very busy. Personal space is at a minimum. Other things have changed: fewer cars, better mass-transit, improved air quality. The world's tallest building is, at least temporarily, in Taipei. The high speed rail system on the island's west side reduced a 6+ hour train ride to Kaohsiung to 90 min (and was smooth and very cool). Many more signs in English, and Pinyin has largely supplanted Wade-Giles for romanization of Chinese words. People didn't look so painfully thin, a sign of prosperity. Another change: Taiwan is now a vigorous democracy, it citizens unafraid to voice their opinions.

Here are some pictures taken while touring about the island. The first three come from Yehliu Beach, on Taiwan's northeast shore, one of the strangest places on Earth. I particularly liked these sandstone columns, which were typically topped by rock-filled craters.

The Pacific Ocean, from Kenting National Park in southern Taiwan:

From Kaohsiung, the Nine Corner Bridge, a pagoda, rowers on Lotus Lake, and one of its namesakes:

A butterfly alights on a flower in Taroko Gorge:

Swans making waves in Datun Natural Park:

A cloud over Taipei's National Palace Museum:

Taipei 101 skyscraper:

Two amusing signs. The elevator is disabled?

A sign warning of rockfalls in Taroko Gorge displays a sense of humor!