Monday, February 25, 2008

2008 Lantern Festival

The 2008 Lantern Festival is held in Tainan County (Solar City, Southern Taiwan Science Park) from Feb. 21 to Mar. 2. To accommodate the enormous daily flood of visitors from all over Taiwan, the Taiwan Railways Administration even built a temporary station (NanKe station, located between the Shanhua and the SinShih stations) next to the venue. Passengers can buy tickets for any non-express trains to Shanhua (South bound) or Sinshih (North bound) and get out of the trains at the next stop.

The theme lantern of this year is "Good Fortune in the Year of the Mouse" and the secondary themes are Heavenly Descent of the Kylin, Striving Towards a Distant Goal, Nine Carps Forming a Dragon, and One Hundred Birds Attending the Phoenix. For more information, click on the following link:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chi Wei Mountain

On sunny days, the white pavillion sitting at the very top of Chi Wei Mountain lures me every time I drive by, being the only man made structure on the mountain chain surrounding this valley, it sits like a crowning jewel, attrating all eyes to it, despite that, I've never had the courage to climb the mountain alone.

The pavillion looks like a miniature of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, A.K.A. the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, standing on top of the mountain overlooking the stretching mountains and towns of Chi-Shan and Meinong. On cloudy days, parts of the pavillion are veiled in mist of ever changing perspectives.

The first day of the 2008 lunar new year, I made my pilgrimage to the mountain from the west side entrance which takes about 40min to reach the pavillion. The track starts with an easy winding road that is paved with concrete. A gate that was installed to keep goats from messing up the mountain separates the concrete road designed for warming up for the challenge--941 steep steps that leads to the pavillion. Big gaps between the steps, tilted and crumbled, and a stiff wind coming from nowhere made the last 1/3 of the track the hardest part of the trek. Views from the pavillion were stupendous: a skyline of stretching mountains from the northeast; Meinong valley from the southeast and Chi Shan township from the northwest, provides a 360 degree panorama. Even the mighty wind couldn't be a match for the fortification and softened into a light breeze. That was the perfect start for the very first day of the 2008 lunar new year.

Chi Wei Mountain belongs to the Yushan mountain group. From a distance, the shape of the mountain looks like an ancient flag flying in the wind, so it was named “Flag Tip Mountain.”

Starting from either the east or the west side entrance, a visitor can walk up for about 40 minutes and reach the pavilion at the west end of the mountain. From there, one can embrace views of the Central Mountains all around you, and if the weather is good, the Taiwan Strait and an 85-floor skyscraper in Kaoshiung City may also be visible.

Two new entrances have been opened recently; they also lead to the pavilion and continue further to Lei Yin Temple. It takes about 3 hours to finish the trip.