Hua Island (花嶼), with no airport and only three weekly boats connecting it with the outside world, is probably as far off the beaten track as you can go in Taiwan, short of walking several days into the high mountains. It’s the westernmost island in the Penghu archipelago (and is often quoted as being the westernmost point in Taiwan; in political talk Matsu and Kinmen belong to the ROC but are not part of Taiwan itself – look it up!). Quickly moving away from a highly sensitive subject, I think we can all agree that given it’s lack of connections with the rest of the world, Hua Island is something of a backwater. Continue reading
My new book, The Islands of Taiwan is currently in layout and should be out in December; while choosing the (twenty) color photo pages of the book this week I thought it would be fun (and also a bit of useful pre-advertising perhaps!) to make a short comparison of the main island groups. Writing the book has been an amazing and educational project (although there’s still lots to learn and experience – for instance I STILL haven’t seen one of those elusive Tao boat launching ceremonies on Lanyu!), and I’ve learnt to appreciate and even love a few places (Kinmen especially) that I once wasn’t too keen on. However although I’ve tried to be as objective as possible I can’t help but love some places more than others (I’ve already got in trouble with certain people for my critical views on the present state of Penghu…). The best way to see if you agree with me or not is simply to get out there and see some of the islands for yourself. All of them have their own cultural, natural, historical or military interest (and usually a combination of several) and each makes for a richly rewarding visit. Please feel free to let me know what you feel, or share any useful tips you may have after a trip, on the book’s website, which is up-and-running (although still being constructed) at http://taiwanislands.wordpress.com/
Happy island hopping!
Everyone assumes that Taiwan’s an island, but sorry: this is well wide of the mark: it’s over a hundred islands! Even if we insist on getting pedantic and leave out Matsu and Kinmen (which, by one of world’s more bizarre examples of politics are part of the ROC but NOT part of Taiwan!) there’s still nearly ten-score islands and islets surrounding that big and very beautiful one in the middle which most of us residents live on. Continue reading
I dunno…. After two trips (seperated by a decade), I’m not sure how much I really like Penghu. I still have a love-hate relationship with Taiwan’s largest set of offshore islands. For sure, Penghu looks wonderful in photos (as I hope my attempts here go some way to showing), and there’s no doubt about it, Penghu is an amazing place. I just wish Continue reading
As I traced the short footpath along the coast of tiny Tongpan Island (桶盤嶼) in the South Sea Islands of Penghu, I was finally fulfilling one of my smaller but longest held ambitions. Not that I’d even heard of this little island until I started planning my first (and so far only) trip to the Penghu archipelago, way back in 2002. No, it wasn’t the tiny island in itself that interested me, but rather the amazing rock formations to be found here, and on several other islands in Penghu. Continue reading