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    • Day 182

      Keelung, Taiwan

      June 11 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌧 81 °F

      New-to-us port #51 … with an overnight.

      We arrived at noon into the port city for Taipei and headed off to see what we could on a short afternoon before the sites closed down for the day.

      In the meantime, unbeknownst to us, this is what was happening in the skies over the Taiwan Strait … in the eternal struggle between Taiwan and China.Read more

    • Day 248

      Jiufen again

      June 11, 2020 in Taiwan ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      De retour dans le nord, on en profite pour retourner dans un coin qui nous avait vraiment plu en arrivant à Taïwan : On part refaire un tour à Jiufen. Ce village est tellement beau et paisible, ça nous fait du bien ! Planqués au milieu de la forêt, avec la mer et du thé 🍵
      En plus, on arrive enfin à avoir du soleil pour profiter de la vue sur la mer 🤩☀️
      Y a pas à dire, c'est quand même magnifique Taïwan ❤️🇹🇼
      Read more

    • Day 156

      Jiufen & das Meer

      April 2 in Taiwan ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      Es gibt an der Nordküste irrsinnig viel zu sehen, aber da Sonntag war und wunderbares Wetter, waren die Massen unterwegs. Ich habe daher einige Sights an der Küste ausgelassen, habe mich an den Staus vorbeiheschummelt und nach Laune ausgewählt wo ich stehen bleibe (Susanne, da ist wieder was nur für dich dabei 😉).

      In der Gegend gab es Gold-, Silber- und Kupfererzabbau. Die Ruinen einer Raffinerie blicken als stummer Zeuge dieser Zeit auf das Meer.

      Juifen ist eine kleine Stadt, die sich an einen Hügel schmiegt. Die Straßen, Wege und Stiegen sind voll Menschen und durchziehen die Stadt wie die Ameisenrouten einen Ameisenhaufen. Zumindest an einem Sonntag. Es wird hier ganz viel Ghibli Studio Zeug verkauft, die Stadt erinnert ein wenig an die Stadt in "Spirited Away", vor allem abends, wenn die Lichter angehen. Ich wäre gern so lange geblieben um das zu sehen, aber die Massen an Menschen habe ich nicht ausgehalten.

      ###### english ######

      There is an insane amount to see on the north coast but as it was a Sunday and the weather was beautiful the crowds were out. So I skipped a few sights on the coast, cheated my way past the traffic jams and chose where to stop depending on my mood (Susanne, there's something just for you again 😉).

      Gold, silver and copper ore mining happened in the area. The ruins of a refinery look out to sea as a silent witness of that time.

      Juifen is a small town nestled on a hill. The streets, paths and stairs are full of people and run through the city like the ant routes through an anthill. At least on a Sunday. A lot of Ghibli Studio stuff is sold here, the town is a bit reminiscent of the town in "Spirited Away", especially at night when the lights come on. I would have liked to stay long enough to see that, but I couldn't stand the crowds.
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    • Day 149

      Keelung/Taipei, Taiwan

      June 11, East China Sea ⋅ 🌧 79 °F

      Arrived Keelung port at 12:00 noon and met our guide. Today we had four people in our group. Tom, our driver/guide, had a comfortable van for four of us.
      The goal for today was to visit Taipei and see as much as possible in one day.
      The traffic to Taipei was light and we got to the Nationals Palace Museum in 40 minutes.

      This museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of Chinese artifacts and artworks, many of which were moved from the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing, as well as five other institutions throughout mainland China during the ROC retreat. The museum's collection encompasses items spanning 8,000 years of Chinese history from the neolithic age to the modern period. The museum building itself was built in 1965.
      The museum is huge, unfortunately we did not have time to see everything. Had to concentrate on the most important collections.

      One of more interesting places we saw was Longshan Temple. It was built in 1738 and was rebuilt multiple times due to the earthquakes and bombing in 1945.

      We visited old area of Taipei dated to Quing Dynasty.

      Also, among many places we visited was Ching Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Very impressive structure.

      We stopped to take pictures of so called building Taipei 101. The building was officially classified as the world's tallest from its opening in 2004 until the 2009 completion of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

      Back in the van, we ask our guide to take us to a restaurant in Keelung close to the port. I found highly rated restaurant, but when we got there, it was completely booked. The waitress suggested another one few minutes drive.
      We had a delicious dinner and after dinner walked to the night street market and back to the ship.
      We had a wonderful day.
      Read more

    • Day 183

      Keelung: Steps & More Steps

      June 12 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌧 77 °F

      Thanks to the overnight we gained in Keelung, today we opted to explore this city instead of going back to Taipei. A better plan on a short port day.

      With rain in the forecast, we grabbed our umbrellas and went down to the gangway at 7:15a to join up with Younga and David, who had a plan similar to what we wanted to do … hike up to the Big Buddha Temple, which sits high atop a hill overlooking the port.

      But first we made a detour … inspired by one of Chef Farid's Facebook postings. What had caught my attention was a beautiful marble lotus floor. When I asked him which temple it was, he replied … “near the ship.” Hmmmm! There were several temples near the ship. We got the full answer to the question from a guard at the port gate. It was the Fo Guang Shan Ji Le Temple. Plugging the name into Google Maps, off we went.

      Fo Guang Shan is an international Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhist organization and monastic order based in Taiwan. We visited the Buddha Museum at the monastery in Kaohsiung on RTW2017 … an amazing place. The followers practice Humanistic Buddhism, and are known for their efforts to modernize Chinese Buddhism. They are also one of the largest charitable organizations in Taiwan, offering services in particular to the needy in remote villages.

      That we had the temple to ourselves doubled our pleasure in the place. The marble inlay floor was amazing … the murals decorating the walls eye-catching. One of the monks came out to give us her prayer card and one of the volunteers handed each of us a happy Buddha charm. Such nice, thoughtful gestures. Nothing was expected in return, but we put some Taiwanese money in the donation box on our way out.

      We were just walking away when a local man approached us with a small box. Intended as an offering for the temple’s Buddha, he instead gave the box to us with a smile and said in English that he wanted us to have it. Another lovely gesture. We, in turn, left it as an offering at the Big Buddha Temple later when we finally managed to get up there.

      Next up was the planned hike to ZhongZheng Park to see Keelung’s Guanyin statue … aka the Big Buddha. Like so many places in Taiwan, the park is named after Chiang Kai-shek … ZhongZheng being the name he chose for himself sometime around 1917-1918.

      Unfortunately, we hit a couple of stumbling blocks in our quest to reach the temple … and I don’t mean the many, many, many steep steps we had to climb in our quest. Rather, due to restoration work being done on the Zhupu Altar, which was also on our list of places to see, we had to detour via the main road instead of through a park-like setting. At least we were rewarded — stinging mosquitoes notwithstanding — for those initial stairs we ended up climbing by finding the Martyr’s Shrine … though it was closed.

      The shrine was originally known simply as the Keelung Shrine. It was converted from a Japanese Shinto shrine to honor the martyrs of WWII after the war. In 1969, the original structure was demolished and a new one in the style of a northern Chinese palace was built. The big torii [Shinto shrine archway] was also rebuilt and named the Chung Cheng Park Monument.

      The interesting thing we noted before we took the detour further up the hill was that the initial steps we climbed took us to the Xiner Bomb Shelter Square. These places are a necessity in Taiwan because of China’s aggressive stance. In fact, we read this morning that yesterday Taiwan had to scramble fighter jets when 10 Chinese warplanes flew across what is deemed the sensitive median line.

      Our next stop, after walking through an area that was probably off-limits due to the restoration work, was the Zhupu Altar. I had noticed the temple as Insignia was coming into port yesterday and found it very photogenic. Apparently it is associated with the month-long Ghost Festival, which is held during the seventh month of the lunar calendar … usually in August/September.

      By the time we arrived at ZhongZheng Park, having climbed up through a woodland area where mosquitoes were swarming, the on-and-off drizzle was starting to pick-up. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we had entered the park through the rear instead of the main temple entrance. That explained why our first glimpse of the Guanyin statue was from the back.

      A short segue here to explain about Buddha vs Guanyin. Which begs the need to describe what a bodhisattva is. As I understand it, this word comes from Sanskrit and refers to someone who, in Buddhism, seeks awakening [bodhi] … thus is an individual on the path to becoming a buddha. Guanyin, a figure in Chinese Buddhism is the bodhisattva of “infinite compassion and mercy” … and is referred to as the most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity, with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her.

      The first thing we noticed at the park was that it was possible to climb up inside the Guanyin statue … for a small donation, of course. We paid up and decided to check it out. In my case, I was thinking that there would be some kind of an observation terrace at the top. There wasn’t. But we didn’t figure that out until we had climbed several very steep, narrow stairs with small platforms in between. On each floor, the walls were decorated with scenes depicting the life story of Buddha. We went as high as we could to find that the last section — where the stairs became ladders — was off-limits. Those ladders probably led up into the head of the statue.

      At this top-most level, we found a small altar to Guanyin and left the little box of goodies that we were gifted earlier as an offering to the Goddess of Mercy. Then it was time to negotiate the steep stairs back down to the ground floor.

      By the time we stepped out from the statue, the rain was coming down … light but steady. Opening our umbrellas, we strolled around to the front of the Guanyin statue, which is guarded by two golden lions. After a wet but fun photo-op, we wandered the grounds, checking out a gazebo in which a lotus-shaped wishing well is topped by four statues. Then, following a cloister-like passage lined with red columns, we walked over to the giant drum and took the time to ring it … not as easy as one might think (as you will see in the video).

      A quick stop into the temple itself and we were ready to leave. That’s when we found the main gate through which we would have entered had we not detoured into the forest on our way up. We opted to return by way of the road, thus avoiding the mosquitoes.

      Our day wasn’t quite complete yet, but having reached the max number of photos I can attach to a footprint, the rest of the story will have to wait until the next post.
      Read more

    • Day 149

      Keelung, Taiwan- "Power to the People"

      June 12, East China Sea ⋅ 🌧 79 °F

      Captain, Is it time to go?
      We are still in Taiwan, only 81 miles (+/- 20 miles) to China and a mere 8 hours ago Taiwan's defense ministry deployed military fighter jets, naval vessels, and missile systems after it detected 24 Chinese warplanes, 10 of which it said crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

      The Chinese aircraft detected included J-10, J-11, J-16, and Su-30 fighters, and also H-6 bombers, according to a tweet by the defense ministry.

      In the tweet, the defense ministry said that four People's Liberation Army Navy vessels "conducted joint combat patrol" while ten aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China and Taiwan— something which China says it does not recognize.

      This is not the first instance of Chinese military activity around Taiwan this week. Reuters reported that 37 Chinese military planes flew into Taiwan's air-defense system before some headed to the western Pacific.

      The US Navy's 7th Fleet also released a video late last Sunday night showing a Chinese warship cutting off an American destroyer during an "unsafe" encounter in the Taiwan Strait.

      In the video, the Chinese Type 052D destroyer Suzhou, as US Indo-Pacific Command described it, "executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner" around the USS Chung-Hoon.

      According to Reuters, China has previously defended these kind of actions, saying they were to safeguard the country's sovereignty. China has frequently responded to US-Taiwan relations with military exercises and shows of force.

      China views Taiwan as part of its own territory, claiming that it is a breakaway province. Chinese President Xi Jinping has frequently called for unification with Taiwan.

      "We are willing to create a vast space for peaceful unification, but we will never leave any room for any sort of Taiwan independence separatist activities," he has said.
      Read more

    • Day 117

      Jiufen - Spirited Away in real life?

      November 24 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

      Geschrieben von Maike

      Heute Nachmittag habe ich das Bergdorf Jiufen besucht, welches den Ghibli-Film "Chihiros Reise in Zauberland" inspiriert haben soll. Und tatsächlich: Die Atmosphäre im Dorf erinnert an vielen Stellen an den Film! Ich war trotzdem erstaunt, dass so viele Touristen in diesem Städtchen unterwegs waren, aber es hat auch viel zu bieten: Neben einzigartigen Aussichten auf das Meer gibt es lange Gassen voller Läden, Souvenirshops, Cafes und Restaurants, die durch die rot leuchtenden Lampions vor allem nach Einbruch der Dunkelheit besonders geheimnisvoll und gemütlich wirken. An allen Ecken gibt es taiwanesische und teilweise für Jiufen typische Spezialitäten wie Fischbällchen-Suppe, Tarobällchen-Suppe, Bubble-Tea, veganes Jerky und noch vieles mehr. Außerdem gibt es unzählige Teeläden, die hochwertigen taiwanesischen Tee zum Verkosten und Verkauf anbieten. Interessant ist noch, dass Jiufen zu Beginn ein sehr kleines Bergdorf mit etwa 9 Familien war und mit der Entdeckung des dortigen Goldes ab 1890 aufblühte.

      English version

      This afternoon I visited the mountain village Jiufen, which is said to have inspired the Ghibli film "Spirited Away". And indeed, the atmosphere in the village in many places is comparable to the movie! I was still surprised that there were so many tourists in this little town but it also has a lot to offer: Not only you can find incredible views of the sea, but also long alleyways full of stores, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants, which look particularly mysterious and cozy thanks to the glowing red lanterns that light up in the darkness. There are Taiwanese specialties on every corner, some of which are typical of Jiufen, such as fish ball soup, taro ball soup, bubble tea, vegan jerky and much more. There are also countless tea stores offering high-quality Taiwanese tea for tasting and sale. It is also interesting to note that Jiufen started out as a very small mountain village with around 9 families and flourished with the discovery of gold there from 1890.
      Read more

    • Day 117

      Bitoujiao Trail north coast

      November 24 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌬 22 °C

      Geschrieben von Maike

      Nachdem wir gestern Abend in unserem neuen Hostel in Ruifang angekommen waren, haben wir heute einen Ausflug an die östliche Nordküste Taiwans gemacht. Wir sind den Bitoujiao-Trail gelaufen, der bis zur Spitze einer Landzunge führte. Das Beeindruckendste waren die riesigen, teils bedrohlich wirkenden Wellen, die sich an den Felsen brachen. Der aus Holz gebaute Weg bot einen bequemen Laufuntergrund und war von dichtem Gestripp umgeben. Da es heute sehr bewölkt und ziemlich windig war, konnten wir nicht allzu weit blicken. Aber allein die Sicht auf grüne Berge, blaues Wasser und weißen Wellenschaum war unbeschreiblich! Da die Busverbindungen etwas ungünstig waren, sind wir zu Fuß weitergegangen und an dem "Golden Waterfall" vorbeigewandert. Das Wasser dieses Wasserfalls enthält auf natürliche Weise viele Minerale wie Arsen, Kupfer und Schwefel, was ihm und den umliegenden Steinen eine "goldene" (eher bräunlich-orangene) Farbe gibt. Nach einem weiteren Anstieg sind wir an einer Aussichtsplattform angekommen, von der wir nochmals eine einzigartige Aussicht auf das Meer, die begrünten Berge und das tiefer liegende Städtchen hatten.

      English version

      After arriving at our new hostel in Ruifang last night, we went on a trip to the eastern north coast of Taiwan today. We walked the Bitoujiao trail which led to the tip of a headland. The gigantic waves were very impressive. The wooden path of the trail provided a comfortable surface to walk on and was surrounded by dense scrub. As it was very cloudy and quite windy today, we couldn't see too far. But the view on green mountains, blue water and white wave foam alone was indescribable! As the bus connections were not as good as expected, so we continued by foot. We walked past the "Golden Waterfall" whose waternaturally contains many minerals such as arsenic, copper and sulfur. These minerals give the water and surrounding stones a "golden" (rather brownish-orange) color. After another ascending part of the walk, we arrived at a viewing platform from where we had another unique view on the sea, the green mountains and the town below.
      Read more

    • Day 4


      October 17, 2019 in Taiwan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      Le Nord-est de Taïwan est montagneux, l'île est d'ailleurs une immense chaîne de montagne émergeant du Pacifique, où beaucoup de sommets dépassent les 3000 mètres. Les parois sont abruptes et sont couvertes de végétation.
      Après la visite d'une mine d'or nous arrivons à Juifen où une bonne centaine de cars sont agglutinés sur les rares parkings. À une heure et demi de Taipei, l'excursion est prisée des touristes. D'une artère commerçante typique, la ville est déjà dévoyée par des magasins flambants neufs.
      Pourtant, la différence culturelle nous interpelle, que ce soit l'alimentaire ou la multitude de marchandises proposées, chaque chose nous questionne. Et comme tout est écrit en mandarin, nos interrogations restent pour la plupart sans réponse.
      Sans Volodia, nous n'aurions pas testé, et adopté, le bubble tea 🍵
      Read more

    • Day 10

      Spirited Away (well Jioufen)

      October 6 in Taiwan ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

      Took the bus from Taipei to Jioufen...
      It is bloody beautiful (if completely packed and full of tourists)! Despite the weather being grey, foggy and just a bit miserable, can see why people claim it's the street that Studio Ghibli's "Spirited Away" was based on (love that film 🥰)
      The old street is so windy, narrow and full of really cool shops and food places... too many to count...
      Amongst other food, finally had a peanut ice cream wrap (I lie, I had 2 as I'm a pig!), so good! Made a friend during lunch, unfortunately she had to leave after about an hour and half, but then made another friend while sitting in a tea shop... we're gunna go to Shifen tomorrow, and she is Taiwanese, which is so handy for the language barrier!
      Staying the night here as according to friends it's even more beautiful at night... it is true! In the evening bumped into Orna, from yesterday! Such a small touristy place! 😅 feel like I'm becoming a local randomly bumping into people I know!
      Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Toucheng Township, Toucheng, 頭城鎮

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