Masahiko Kondo, Marubeni Corporation, Taiwan Office
You can see a steady increase in the number of Japanese people visiting Taiwan, numbering around 1,120,000 in 2005. But I wonder how many of them have visited areas outside Taipei? Although Taiwan is not a large island, being about same size as Kyushu, it has diverse communities, each with its own unique character. In this report, I want to introduce the areas outside Taipei. Let's travel around the island together!
First, we take a three-hour train journey on what is known as the Jikyogo (the locals call it the fire-train) from Taipei to the northern city of Hualien. We rent a car in Hualien and drive one hour, heading for Taroko Gorge, renowned for its beautiful canyon of several kilometers in length extending alongside a coastline. From here, you can enjoy the magnificent scenery from an observation deck in the middle of spectacular marble cliffs, underneath which you can see blocks of marble in a beautiful flowing river.
After leaving Taroko Gorge, we take the Jikyogo again and go to Kaohsiung, a major city in the southern area. From there, we hop on a bus for a three-hour trip to Kenting, the largest beach resort at the extreme southern tip of Taiwan. In the daytime, you can relax on the hotel's private beach or enjoy jet skiing. At night, you can have an Asian holiday with a dynamic barbecue and glasses of beer. To our surprise, Kiting has many Thai restaurants, which I recommend.
After enjoying the beach resort, we return to Kaohsiung and head for Chiay, a city in the center of the island, by the now-familiar Jikyogo train. From there, we go on a three-and-half-hour trip to a point at an altitude of 2,000 meters on the Alishan mountain line, which features a pretty, toy-like train. The temperature changes dramatically, from 35 C at the base of mountain to approximately 15C on the top. You need to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt. The climax of sightseeing in Alishan is the view from Iwaiyama (altitude of 2,489 meters), where you can see the sun rising from Jade Mountain (former Japanese name: Niitakayama), one of East Asia's highest peaks at 3,952 meters above sea level. Waking up at 4:00 in the early morning, we climb Iwaiyama by small train and wait for some minutes. It is an awe-inspiring experience to witness the sun gradually rising from Jade Mountain. It is worth seeing, but you cannot always take in this magnificent scenery because of fog, even if you wake up very early. I was very lucky to see the sunrise on my first visit.
We have traveled around the island rather quickly, and we could not cover all areas. Taiwan has many other attractive sightseeing destinations. When you come to Taiwan, please enjoy the whole island, and not just Taipei.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.38 (March, 2007)