Ming's Taiwan Travels

Talking about life and travels in Taiwan, hoping to help people who want to visit Taiwan, and encourage those who haven't came yet to pay a visit.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Surfing: Honeymoon Bay (蜜月灣)

I've always wanted to learn to surf, and have been nagging my friends for months to go together. Finally we picked Honeymoon Bay in Yilan County, one of the most popular surfing locations in northern Taiwan. One of the advantages of surfing in a popular location is that you can rent a surf board instead of actually buying one. All of us were beginners, so that's what we did.

Besides of surfing, this trip also carries an important task: a blind date between a friend in university, and a friend of a friend. None of them knew this was a blind date, because we didn't want to give them too much pressure, and we thought we could introduce them to meet, and they feel okay with each other....you know.

But my purpose was merely to learn to surf. Honeymoon bay was probably the best place for beginners, because the waves were so small, however I could never stand up. The place we rent the surf boards also provided free coaching, the coach did his best to help me practice, but I just couldn't, now I'm really thinking I might have some problem in balancing. But still, I burnt lots of calories and had a great time, though get stung by jellyfishes.

Watch out of jellyfish, my stings weren't serious, but my friends got some great stings, one even got a sting on the eye. The good news is that they have a simple first aid stand, so basic stings should be okay.

After a very tiring morning, we drove to a seafood restaurant to have some good seafood. Don't expect seafood to be cheap, but besides of that, we were pretty satisfied with the meal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cingtiangang,Yangmingshan (Yangming mountain) National Park 擎天岡,陽明山

On a lovely July weekend, I decided that I haven't been exercising enough, so I called my friend F and invited her to do a short hike. There are too many hiking trials in Taipei, so we randomly picked Cingtiangang. I have been there once, but the weather wasn't clear that time, so I decided to go again, to see the beautiful view people have been telling me.

The easiest way to go is to take the bus "xiao 15 (小15)" from Shilin MRT or Chientan MRT to the last stop. It was those kind of mini bus, crammed with people, all longing to breath some fresh air during the weekend. Often being car sick, it wasn't such a pleasent ride, but it's worth it. By the way, for a long ride like that took only 15 nt, cheap cheap cheap.

We misjudged the weather. It was TOO SUNNY. It was a total grass mountain, beautiful though, but too hot and no trees to get away from the sun. The hike itself was pretty easy, but we were beaten by the poisonous sun, and didn't finish the whole thing.

But anyways, it was a nice day to remember, and I still strongly recommend the place for an easy hike.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Go to Penghu (澎湖) before it's too late

I've just read the paper about some super hotel coporation buying a piece of land in Penghu, and planning to build another super hotel there. I'm not against massive villas being built on beach resorts, but the reason this one is coming is because our brilliant government is planning to turn beautiful Penghu into some gambling destination. This controversial policy caused a lot of disputes:

1. Gambling is not legal in this nation yet.
Of course, this can be solved.
2. Yes, gambling is going to bring in much more money. Is it?
WHO would be going there to gamble, the Taiwanese? That would still be a small crowd, international tourists would probably go to Macau or somewhere else.
3. Why does it have to be Penghu? Anyone that have been there should be aware of the natural beauty of the Penghu islands, the fresh fish and cactuses, and the extraordinary sea stones. And we haven't mentioned the wildlife yet. Can't people go somewhere else to gamble, like the most poluted Taipei, or the most corrupt Taiyuan. Of course, they want to keep the gambling activity outside the main island. Or they think the gambling industry can help the tourism of Penghu. Come on! If the government knew how to use the natural resources to promote tourism, Penghu would be jam packed with tourists (In fact for some times of the year, it already is).

My point is, go to the Penghu islands, it really is a nice place. My personal recommendation is chimei (picture below), it's at the very south of the Penghu islands. It's the best to go during the summer time with the nice hot sun, and it rarely rains there. All kind of beach activities such as scuba-diving are available, and the islands really gives me a feeling of being young.

Other information:
Penghu government English website
Penghu National Scenic Area English website
Penghu tour English website

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Waterfall in Taipei: Wulai 烏來

Wulai was always a place I wanted to explore, it's in the south peak of Taipei County, a nice refreshing place not far from the city.

Lynn and I met near National Taiwan University and rode our own motorbikes there. We rode down Roosevelt Rd. and them follow signs, it wasn't difficult to get there. It took probably less than half an hour.

The waterfall was refreshing, I believe there are a few trails to walk , but we didn't have much time. The outter part was the so called "old street", in my opinion it was a bit touristy there. I also learned that this is a place where you can find aborigines, I thought they were all in the east or down south, didn't know some of the tribes live in Taipei. Wulai is also famous of it's hot springs, maybe I'll try it some day.

The next time I want to get away from city life, I'll know there's Wulai.

Wulai English Website

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Tax Refund

I have just sent my friend to the airport and got to know how our tax refund works.

Foreign travellers to Taiwan can get a 5% tax refund if you spend over 3000 NT in the same day same store that have the "TRS(Tax Return Shopping)" mark on it, and carry the product out of Taiwan within 30 days. You have to fill in a tax refund form during the purchase, and bring those documents to the airport counter. They will return cash to you.

There is a list of TRS shops but unfortunately it's all in Chinese. This is the list, you might want to ask a friend that understands Chinese if you don't, or ask me.

June 30 Revise:
Find the English guidelines and shop lists of VAT refunds here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chinese Music Rocks

Dear people interested in traditional Chinese music, you can’t miss the two concerts on June 1st ! The two main Chinese orchestras in Taiwan: National Chinese Orchestra (NCO)( and Taipei Chinese Orchestra (TCO)(http://www.tco.taipei.gov.tw/) are holding two concerts that are both so brilliant that makes me difficult to decide which to go to!

Double Concussion–En Shao and Yiu-kwong Chung, Shanghai Chinese Orchestra and Taipei Chinese Orchestra
2007/6/1 Taipei Zhongcheng Auditorium, Zhongshan Hall 19:30
Prices: 300 500 800 1000 1200
TCO’s concert “Double Concussion” is truly an all-star concert, they invited the ShangHai Chinese Orchestra, which is one of the three main Chinese orchestras in China, and perform masterpieces, such as the erhu concerto “The Great Wall”. This concerto is one of the most important concertos in Chinese music, it is very powerful and strong with feelings, the erhu instrument tells stories and emotions surrounding the Great Wall. TCO invited Master Min to perform the piece, since she was the first musician to perform this great concerto. Ironically, the conductor of that historical first performance was Mr. Chu Chun-chuen, who is now the conductor of NCO.

NCO Concert -Silk Road Fantasy
2007/6/1 National Concert Hall 19:30
Prices: 300,400,500,600,800
While TCO sweeps the audience by their strong cast, Mr. Chu leads NCO performing an exotic concert. The highlight would be “Silk Road Fantasy”, which is a daring piece challenging tradition. Though NCO is not as rich as TCO, being able to invite a whole group of stars from China, their music is usually considered more completed than TCO. Their skills are the same as TCO, but their passion in music is considered stronger than TCO. They don’t have money to advertise their concert, so last weekend the musicians, who mostly have a great position in the industry, decorated their own cars into a “Silk Road” theme, and drove around the city, to introduce their music to everyone.

Personally I would probably go to the NCO concert, I have seen Master Min with NCO a few years ago, and I’m satisfied with that. I believe lots of people would go see TCO’s performance, so I decide to support the people who have real passion and professional attitudes, but if it’s your first time for traditional Chinese music, TCO would also be a good choice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The weather is a good reason for hating Taiwan. This island rains too much and is often very humid, clothes seem to never dry after hanging it up after washing. And Taipei is the worse of the worse, while it's always sunny down south, I, living in Taipei, always feel like celebrating when we get a glance of the sun here.

People here don't seem to mind though, especially the girls. Girls always have their umbrella's with them, for blocking rain when it's raining, and blocking the sun when it actually comes out. The trend here is "White is beauty, don't get tanned". Crazy.

If you plan to travel in Taiwan, be sure that there isn't a typhoon coming over.The whold island would be swallowed by the storm, and you might spend your whole vacation indoor, trying the get away from heavy rains and winds. The typhoon could get so bad that sometimes the government announces a day off, that's why people would rather have a fierce typhoon than a gentle one, if we have to have one.

And we have earthquakes. Most of them don't do any harm, so it should be fun to have an earthquake experience.

Weather conditions could be checked from the Central Weather Bureau.