Guidebook Update and Taiwan History

31 08 2007

It has been a while since my last post, so I apologize to my (three) regular viewers.  I have been busy with work, houseguests, and of course, continuing to get ready for our trip to Taiwan.

I have been reading two new Taiwan guidebooks – Insight Guide Taiwan and The Rough Guide to Taiwan – over the last couple of weeks.  I am more than halfway through Insight Guide and it’s actually a very interesting read.  While not as useful as other guidebooks for hotel and restaurant recommendations and for “on the ground” use while traveling, the book provides a great general overview of the history, culture, and traditions of Taiwan and offers a glimpse into modern Taiwan life.  In addition, the book is full of wonderful photos that are helpful for deciding which places to visit.  I would recommend it as a supplement to a solid guidebook such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.  Basically, the guide is more like a reference book for Taiwan than a guidebook.

I also found an interesting new blog called Jeff’s Taiwan that offers thoughts and insights into the history that can be found all over Taiwan.  His most recent entry is about the Sino-French war in the 1880s in Keelung.  The blog is well-written and organized, and includes some interesting maps, illustrations, and photos.  I also like it because it shows that there is history in Taiwan outside of the events that happened in the 1940s.  Jeff plans to blog mainly on hiking, historical sites, and flora.


More Taiwan Blogs…

9 08 2007

Just wanted to write a quick post highlighting some other great Taiwan travel and photo blogs.

Exploring Taiwan! is an extensive travel journal detailing a two week vacation to Taiwan written by Keong from Singapore.  There are some great examples of outdoor/hiking/backpacking activities to do in Taiwan.  Taiwan is a very popular vacation destination for Singaporeans, as evidenced by their overwhelming representation on the TripAdvisor Taiwan message boards!

Craig Ferguson posts on Lukang, an old preserved harbor village outside of Changhua (also written as Lugang).  These beautiful photos are accompanied by lots of useful information and history.  Craig is a professional photographer.

David on Formosa is a popular Taiwan blog with lots of interesting posts and photos.  Check it out!

Lee Wei-I’s Kaohsiung photos on Flickr.  This is a shout-out to my mother’s hometown, Kaohsiung (i.e. the OTHER big city in Taiwan).  Lee Wei-I is a very talented Taiwanese photographer who lives in Taipei.  I found his Flickr photos by chance one day by googling Kaohsiung and was really impressed.  He has several photo collections and is a favorite among Flickr users.

Musings on Taiwan

6 08 2007

When I was growing up, there was almost no information on Taiwan in English in the public domain.  The only way for me to find anything about Taiwan was through family or from visiting the country.  The information in English that did exist was minimal in reference books.  In fact, there were not a lot of text books on Asian history in general outside of college-level history.  It wasn’t until high school that we had a one month section on Asian history.  Needless to say, the part about Taiwan took about 2 minutes.  I know that a lot of this lack of information is because I can’t read Chinese, though.  Even when I was a kid, my parents had a subscription to the World Journal, a Taiwanese American newspaper.  My Chinese has gotten a little bit better though, since I took some classes in college.  Anyway, I digress.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that the internet really exploded in terms of information on Taiwan.  Not only have Taiwan’s government and tourism boards stepped up their web presence, but the advent of personal blogs has significantly enriched the volume of information out there on people’s experiences on the island.  There are even pictures of the tiny town next to my grandparents’ plantation in the middle of nowhere!  Since discovering these Taiwan English blogs, I have eagerly read them almost every day.  Below I have listed some Taiwan blogs that I read that are helpful for anyone planning a trip to Taiwan.  Most of the blogs are written by English teachers in Taiwan, which makes up a significant portion of the English speaking community on the island.

The View From Taiwan, by Michael Turton.  This is the best Taiwan blog, hands down.  It is written by an American professor who has lived in Taiwan for years and years, and has a great mix of every day Taiwan life, interesting observations, and most of all, great large pics of Taiwan.  I especially enjoy the huge pics of Taiwanese food he puts up.  He also is a close observer of the crazy political machinations of the KMT and DPP political parties.  Michael also has a separate page about Teaching English in Taiwan/Life in Taiwan. 

The Daily Bubble Tea, by Todd Alperovitz.  Todd has a great photo blog that chronicles his travels around Taiwan.  Be sure to click on the Travel Taiwan page.  The blog is also conveniently categorized by travel location.

What’s Up in Taiwan was a great podcast that featured interviews of people living in and visiting Taiwan.  Although they have stopped producing podcasts, you can still listen to their past interviews on their web page.

Isla Formosa is a funny blog that makes fun of some of the quirks of living in Taiwan.

The Taiwan Chronicles, by Holly.  Holly blogs about daily life as a teacher in Taiwan.  I really enjoy reading her blog, and she posts nice pictures too.

There are a bunch of other Taiwan blogs that I read, but these are the ones I recommend for anyone wanting to travel to Taiwan or just learn about Taiwan in general.

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