Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fire and Snow

Tung flowers and fireflies in Dongshi Forest Area

I was worried that the trip to the Dongshi Forest Area for firefly sighting would end up with me being trapped in a cabin reading 'The Lucifer Principle' because of the pouring rain. Luckily, the rain stopped on the 1st day of my trip and didn't start again until the last mintue on my journey home. The great bargain, a cabin with 2 king-sized beds, breakfast, entrance fee, parking, and Spa are all included in the package of an overnight trip for only NT$2,999 for 2 persons (NT$3,999 for 4 persons), for travelers who book it online still stands as last year. The best deal to offer this year is the consumer voucher 800: a cabin, 2 meals (breakfast and dinner), entrance fee, and parking are alll included for only NT$800/person! (Note: must pay with consumer voucher, at least partially)

On my last visit to Dongshi Forest Area last year, tung flowers were just about to blossom; this year, thanks to the odd weather, tung trees have already fully blossomed in late April. Walking in trails where tung flowers spin down in the air in the afternoon breeze was poetic yet it felt almost blasphemy to walk on the roads that cover with snowy white petals. Despite the fact that the number of fireflies were less due to the rain, the firefly lighting show was still phenomenonal.

Paper Dome

The great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe/Japan on Jan. 17th 1995 destroyed more than 200,000 buildings including the Takatori Church. To build a temporary home for the community meeting house, architect Shigeru Ban raised funds and recruited 160 volunteers, most of them were college students, to build the house that is made of paper. The project started in July and was completed on September 17th, 1995. Inspired by Bernini's churches, 58 paper pillars (5m in length, 33cm in diameter, 15 mm in thickness) were arranged in an oval-shape that were sheltered in a rectangular fiberglass form.

The New Home Land Foundation (a organiztion that's dedicated to post 9-21 earthquake community reconstruction ) heard that the paper church that had served not only as a temporary meeting house but also a spiritual asylum for the community was about to be torn-down and relocation to rebuild the Takatori church when participating in the 10th anniversary memorial ceremony of the great Hanshin earthquake. The chairman proposed to relocate the paper church to Nantou/Taiwan where the epicenter of the 9-21 earthquake was in 1999. The proposal was accepted and the paper church was shipped to Taiwan in July, 2005. The paper church reassembling was completed and opened to the public on September 21st, 2008 in Tao-Mi Eco-village, Puli township.

Entrance fee: NT$50, exchangable voucher
Opening hours: Mar. to Oct.: 09:00-20:00; Nov. to Feb.: 09:00-18:00
Add: No. 52-12, Taomi lane, Taomi village, Puli township, Nantou county

Sitou Nature Education Area

Twelve years ago I stayed there for a week, singing everyday as entertainment for the China Youth Corp; Twelve years later I visited the vary spot where I sang before and found nothing has changed. Twelve years slipped by in a blink of an eye for me as a human being, for this old cypress forest it seems time stands still. The well designed trails are suitable for all levels of hikers. A must see place!

Related posts:
Firefly Season
Snowing in May-Tung Blossom
2009 Hakka Tung Blossom Festival

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Budget accommodations in Taiwan

Hotels look the same everywhere, so why not stay in some other places? Here is a list of alternatives to hotels that are not only different but sometimes even free. Included in the map listed are many temples, churches and hostels.

View Budget Accommodations in Taiwan in a larger map

It is recommended to call in advance of arrival.
Information collected from:

Monday, April 06, 2009

MV Doulos, the floating bookshop

The idea of having a book fair on a ship is fascinating, especially if the ship is the world's oldest active ocean-going passenger ship that travels all over the world. The MV Doulos, meaning the servant, welcomes book lovers onboard in Kaohsuing Harbor (Fisherman's Wharf) from April 3rd~28th, Hualien Harbor from May 1st to 12th and Keelong Harbor from May 15 to June 3rd.

I visited the ship yesterday, visitors onboard must go through a chamber where the crew were hosting small games to raise funds, whereas the book fair was held one level above, on the deck. I was hoping to find books from all over the world in various categories, but from what I could see, 70% of the books were Christian or spirit lifting related, 20% were english books for children leaving only about 10% that were Chinese books, cooking, dictionaries etc. I couldn't find a book I wanted, not even a mug that had Doulos mark on it! The weekend crowd sucked out all the fun of reading books leisurely on the deck in the breeze from the ocean. I passed the tour of the ship and left the ship wondering why I visited the ship on a crowded Sunday!

Transportation to Fisherman's Wharf in Kaohsiung: 5 min walk from 2nd Exit of Sizihwan station (orange line 01) of Kaohsiung MRT.

Entrance fee to the book fair: NT$10/person; tour to the chambers and the bridge of the ship: NT$100/50, adult/child .

Opening hours: 10:00~22:00, Tue to Sat; 14:00~22:00, Sun to Mon.

More information about the ship, schedule, or to be a crew of Doulos, ect. at