Do the Taiwanese Authorities have a Foreigner PR Problem?

Getting home from work tonight I turned on my computer to find an email from a Taiwanese acquaintance which explained a plan to start charging visitors to enter Taiwan’s national parks. Nothing wrong with that, in principle. However he also explained how he’d heard from a friend that certain local politicians were suggesting that foreign visitors then be charged a higher fee than Taiwanese tourists. I immediately felt a tinge of righteous anger, but there was more than that; the news was slightly disturbing also.  After several hours I finally put my finger on what was wrong, and couldn’t sleep until writing down feelings that I’ve actually had for some time, in black and white.

I realized that this is far from the first time that the Taiwanese authorities have  differentiated between what foreigners and Taiwanese can do when exploring this wonderful island, or how much they should pay while doing it. Continue reading

Three Pleas…

The fruits of a two-day camp/hike in southwest New Taipei City (well done Ray and Clark!) Admittedly these were (unnecessary) plastic trail markers, but the fact remains – there’s a LOT of litter around

Although it’s presently cold and nasty out, with more rain promised, this has been the best autumn for several years in Taiwan, and I’ve been making the most of it,  out enjoying some particularly wonderful hiking. Nothing’s ever perfect though, and several things have been getting my goat enough that I feel compelled to put fingers to keyboard and do a bit of wingeing. However before I get another of those occasional (actually just two so far, rather entertaining) comments from someone who was outraged by my views, this isn’t directed at you reading my blog (I’m grateful you read it!), but merely an attempt to let off some of my increasing frustration, and perhaps hear a few other people’s views as well.

I can’t imagine that any hikers or people who truly love the countryside would willingly or consciously pollute this beautiful land in any of these ways. I was about to include those that loudly proclaim to “love Taiwan” too for that matter, but there at times I think I’d be sadly wrong.

Anyway, here goes… Continue reading

Full Moon Forest and Mount Beichatian Trails CLOSED

The amazing Yuneixi Ancient Tree, one of several giants in the area, at present only accessible from the southern trailhead above Xiaowulai.

UPDATE: The trails have now been reopened.

Rather late news, but the effects of Typhoon Soala (which hit back in early August) are still causing problems for hikers exploring the area south of Taipei. The Jiajiuliao Trail, although marked as ‘closed’ is still easily passable, at least from the Red River Gorge (Wulai) end, and others have told me that it’s possible (if a bit dicey) to pass at the Xiungkong (Sanxia) side.

Nor sure if the rustic ladders on the popular challenge trail to the summit of Mount Beichatian are even still there (this pic is from our last trip, in March 2011). The trail from the north side is presently closed. No idea if the mountain can still be climbed from Xiaowulai.

Continue reading

New Book Cover Mockups

Cover Two

My new book on the outlying islands of Taiwan will be out in a couple of months, and I’m trying to sort out the fun bits like photos and covers.

For the front cover I want something that expresses the idea of being on an island, while NOT looking as though this will be another hiking book (as it’s not!).  Here are two front-running candidates so far (the text and font etc is purely to give an idea – it will of course be designed professionally for the final version).

I’d be grateful if you’d let me know your favorite of the two via the poll below, and any comments (such as a better title etc) would be much appreciated as well.



Stop the dual-pricing system on Yushan!! (Please sign my petition…)


I received some hopefully great news from one of the petition signers (and hiker) about two weeks ago, but since I’ve been in China (where WordPress is blocked!) for the last three weeks, there was no way to share it. Here it is (thanks T!):

…according to [his contact], the planned differential pricing has been reviewed and OVERTURNED.
The fees will be revised to remove the two-tier pricing policy.
No change on the Yushan N. P. website yet, but hopefully that’s simply because things take a bit of time to filter through. Fingers crossed…. Continue reading

Websites for the Taipei Escapes and Yangmingshan Guide are now up!


Just a quick entry tonight, to announce two my new blog/websites, one each for Taipei Escapes Books 1-2 and for Yangmingshan: the Guide. Click on a  book cover above to go to the respective website.

The two websites both have an individual page for each walk, day trip or drive described in the three books, where you’ll find photos taken along the route, in case you want to whet your appitite before going!

On each page I’ve also included a transport section, giving links to bus/train company websites publishing the appropriate timetable where possible. This section is now complete for the two Taipei Escapes books, but is still a work-in-progress on the Yangmingshan  guide.  The only important thing you WON’T find there is a description of the route – for that you’ll still need to buy (or borrow) the books, I’m afraid!!!

The main intention of these websites is to share info among anyone that follows the routes described in the books. I’ll continue to update them with route changes, transport changes and photos as they come along, but please feel free to write on the corresponding page any comments or thoughts after doing a hike or trip, problems or route changes encountered on the route, or anything you feel may be of use to others intending to follow a route in the future;  photos taken on the way are also much welcomed (and will be credited to you, of course)!

Hikes Update for the New Year

Another week left in India, but I’ve been thinking about hiking plans for the new year in Taiwan during long bus rides  the last couple of days and thought I’d share a few plans, plus a few photos from my fourth trip to India, where I’ve been the last two weeks (all three are from Hampi in Karnataka state – definitely NOT a little-known gem, at least among India travellers, but instead a perennially popular and deservedly much-loved oasis of peace and enormous natural beauty in this endlessly infuriating, frustrating, wonderfully chaotic country. Continue reading

Next Hike: Tuesday January 3rd, 2012

The viewing tower atop Mount Daluntou

NOTE Tomorrow’s meeting time: 8 am at Jiantan MRT station ticket barrier.

I’ve stopped posting notice of new hikes up because the weather has been so nasty it’s hard to plan far in advance, but hope to start posting upcoming hikes up here once again. Anyway Tuesday the weather is looking OK, and I have a few photos of the place we’re exploring that are worth putting up here, so here goes. Continue reading

Welcome to Yangmingshan: the Guide website


This website supports my book, Yangmingshan: the Guide, and features photos and updates of the 41 Walks in the book, together with other useful updates and new info I come across about the National Park.

This website is arranged into seven pages conforming to the seven sections of the ‘guide’ part of the book. Simply click on relavent tab above to get to a list of the walks in each chapter, then click on the desired Walk to zoom to that trip’s own page. Photos will eventually be put up on for all 41 walks in the book (some have many more photos than others), and any updates to the route, transport details etc will be posted on the respective page as soon as I’m aware of them.

I hope you’ll view this website as a community effort, so please feel free to contribute to it (please use the relevent page!) if you have any:

– Updates on transport details, website changes or route directions

– Photos from a trip you’d like to share (will be uploaded if space allows, but will always be credited to you)

– post comments about walks or any other aspect of Yangmingshan National Park you feel may be useful to others

– Anything else you’d like to share!

Happy exploring!!


High Mountain trip plans for Winter-Spring 2012

The awesome Mount Dabajian (taken on a 1999 hike!)

Hot on the trail of the great treks we did on Chilai and Nanhuda Mountains in November, I’ve been busy planning a series of Winter/Spring trips to the high mountains. I’ve come up with four routes for starters, with provisional plans for a fifth if it can be arranged. Here’s the rundown. All willing and EXPERIENCED hikers are welcome, and all you have to do is pay your share of the costs for the trip (there’s no organization fee) but numbers for all trips will be limited. Let me know if you’re interested! The following dates are provisional, but unless something bad happens (or I get an offer to do another recital!) these dates should be safe. Continue reading