Monday, March 24, 2014

Xiangshan Cycling Route

Cycling used to serve one purpose and one purpose only: a means of transportation, especially for students in the early days in Taiwan. Nowadays, cycling is becoming the most popular sport/activity for leisure. While lots of cities in Taiwan are working on building a cycling friendly city by planning bike routes and relevant infrastructures for cyclists, the road 21甲 in Nantou County had been chosen as one of the 10 breathtaking cycling routes in the world on CNN by Tim Cheung in 2012. One can circumnavigate the largest lake, Sun Moon Lake,  in Taiwan and enjoy the nature and turquoise water in a half day ride. The route also connects 4 temples, 4 piers, 8 stunning walking trails, 1 Thao aboriginal village and the Toushe basin where the ground bounces like a water bed.

There are 2 cycling routes built along the lake, Xiangshan cycling route (Xiangshan tourist information center to Sheishr, 3km) and Moon lake cycling route (Syuanguang temple to Moon lake, 4km), to separate the cyclists from cars and buses and one Toushe cycling route (1km) leads to the smallest reservoir in Taiwan at the Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area. Xiangshan cycling route is probably the most beautiful and the easiest access route for cycling around Sun Moon Lake. The only bicycle rental in Xiangshan is the Xiangshan bike rental and recreation plaza, which is on the other side of the road. The price for renting a regular bile is NT$100/hour.

Bird's eye view of the cycling route from the Xiangshan tourist information center

Man made sandy beach and little park 

Bridge over the turquoise water


Land mark of Sun Moon Lake

Overflow control (sky well)

Bike trail over the lake

and into the lush

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yushan starry concert

The Yushan Starry Concert has been held for the 5th time this year at the Luona Elementary School in Xinyi village of Nantou county.  The demography of Luona village is mostly composed of the Bunun tribe, that is well known for their homorhythmic chords and fanfare melodies. As most of the villagers would never have the chance to step into the National Theater and Concert Hall in their lifetime to enjoy a high quality music, the principle of Luona elementary school, Peter Ma, started an ambitious project in 2010. Instead of bringing villagers to the National Theater and Concert Hall, why not bring the concert to the tribe so that all the villagers can enjoy the music at ease? Hence the highest altitude music concert in Taiwan.

I participated in the concert last year and was impressed by the high quality of the performances and the fact that all staff of the organization were volunteers, some of them even flew back to Taiwan from America to put out such a wonderful show. Last year the theme was focused on tribal music, this year a variety of musical styles elevated the performance once again. The Dong Guang choir brought the famous homorhythmic chords of transitional Pasibutbut, an eight part harmonic signing. The crystal clear sound of the Vox Nativa chorus, the local native children's choir directed by school Principal Peter Ma, gave me goose bumps. The group 'Perfect Match' brought a Taiwan style broadway show to the stage. There was also an amazing piano performance from a blind pianist, Huang Yu Shiang (黃裕翔), who also starred in an autobiographical movie "Touch of the Light (逆光飛翔)" in 2012. There was also a performance from the 'Guang Ching Chorus' a group of disabled singer. And finally a wonderful performance by the Bolivian group Anka Phaway 'the Eagles', all for free under the starry night at the foothills of Jade mountain.

This concert is held every spring (around March), for more information visit the website: