A UNEXPECTED GEM
April - June 2016
South China Sea, Philippines, Taiwan
Written by Alene in the North Pacific and Aleutians, June and July 2017
“Guard well your
spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard
them and their value will never be known. Improve
them and they will become the brightest gems in a
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our next known destination: Japan. However, we had a choice of visiting either Hong Kong or Taiwan along the way. I visited Hong Kong in 1989, before it belonged to China, and found it very interesting, but neither of us had been to Taiwan. Plus, Hong Kong was a ways off our route to Japan. We really didn’t know much about Taiwan, except that there would be lots of industry.
So, after repairing the crack in the underside of the port wing deck in Labuan, and making Migration shipshape for a big crossing, we sailed north on April 26th, away from the island of Borneo where we had spent so many wonderful months.
Because we had enjoyed our previous visits to Pulau Tiga, we made a quick stop there for one more snorkel (we figured it would be our last chance in water warm enough for just bathing suits for a long while…), and so that Bruce could go up the masts for a last check that the rigging was okay.
Saying goodbye to Pulau Tiga after one last snorkel in tropical waters….
Our route north off the west coast of the Philippines took us through an area the charts labeled Dangerous Ground, an appropriate moniker for the grouping of shallow reefs and shoals scattered over thousands of miles of the South China Sea.
This is the area you have been reading about in the papers; islands, reefs, and atolls whose ownership is disputed among many nations: Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, and of course, China.
Our route took us quite close to Banyue Reef (also called Half Moon Reef), an isolated atoll about 60 miles west of the island of Palawan at the southern end of the Philippines. On Google Earth, it looked a bit like Minerva Reef, so it was very enticing to us. It even had a pass, so we thought we'd go in for a snorkel break. Surprisingly, as we approached at 0900, we saw a boat anchored there.
A Philippine fishing vessel and one of its tenders.
It was a big fishing boat, and there were also about ten small boats with only one man in each all over the reef. We thought at first that it might be China laying claim to the reef (we were not far from the Spratley Islands), but it turns out the boat was from the north of Palawan Island (Philippines), about 200 miles away. We learned this from the two fishermen who came over for a visit. They asked for nothing; though we gave them some cookies. However, we really wanted to be alone there, so instead of going in to anchor, we just hung out on the edge of the reef and took turns snorkeling while the other drifted aboard Migration. The water was beautifully clear, such as we haven't seen for years, and it was really nice to swim on a dropoff like so many we've snorkeled and dived on in the Pacific.
The fishermen on the reef came to check us out.
They probably don’t see many sailboats,
especially big red trimarans.
We took turns snorkeling in the clear waters outside Banyue Reef.
We continued north, pushing to try to get into Haikou Reef (Investigator Reef), an additional 25 miles on, before sunset. This stop was sad and sobering. Another fishing boat was already inside the reef, with one small boat nearby. As we approached, we saw a plume of water shoot 60’ into the air. Dynamite fishing. We saw a second plume just a minute later. We’ve read about it, heard about it, and certainly seen evidence of it, but seeing it firsthand was really distressing for us both. We had planned to stay the night, but we didn’t stop. We were heartsick. We didn’t want to be anywhere near that terrible activity. We were both pensive for a long time afterwards.
Considering the toll of dynamite fishing practices.
Later that night, we got an email from cruising friends to tell us that Abu Sayyef had beheaded the Canadian sailor kidnapped from Davao, Philippines last September. It was a difficult day.
The ocean is a vast emptiness much of the time, so it’s astonishing how frequently we must change course to avoid another vessel or something floating in the water. This particular stretch of sea was particularly hazardous due to Fish Attractor Devices, or FADs. FADs are any device floating in the water -- sometimes anchored to the bottom and sometimes not -- left to attract small fish which hide under it. The small fish attract larger fish which can be caught when the fishermen return. We've seen FADs made from bamboo, wood, whole trees, styrofoam. However, these were large metal cylinders -- unlit and only marked with a number. They do not, of course, appear on any chart.
In the waters between the coast of Borneo and Taiwan, we came upon more than half a dozen of them. It makes one wonder how many of these treacherous unmarked hazards are actually out there…..
Fish Attractor Devices, or FADs, are a serious hazard in the South China Sea.
We presume the hanging tires are for fishing boats to tie up to.
A different type of FAD. This one, at least, is a little softer
and won’t put a hole in our hull; however, the amount of
styrofoam it is leaching into the ocean is disheartening.
Yet another type… This one marked with a palm frond!
The waters of the South China Sea are busy with fishing boats, ships, and, because of the disputed islands, warships. About 100 miles south of Scarborough Reef (and approximately 100 miles west of Manila), we heard some interesting activity on the VHF radio: a less-than-friendly conversation between Japanese and Chinese military vessels. Here's the transcript.
|BB Says: "China Go Home!"|
We had some pretty sunsets and fine spinnaker sailing on our way north.
On May 1st, BB danced the sun up in his traditional
Morris costume (for the tropics, that is…).
Though we had not planned on stopping in the Philippines, that afternoon we made the decision to pull into Port Matalvi, on the northwest corner of the island of Luzon (the same island on which Manila is located), in order to top up our diesel fuel. We had been motoring for much of this passage, and although we thought we could probably make it to Taiwan, I had another reason for wanting to stop — a childhood friend whom I hadn’t seen for at least a decade was living in the Philippines.
Genny has been working in Mainila for 8 years. When I emailed to tell her of our plan to make a stopover, she was keen to come visit us aboard Migration. Although it involved a 6-hour drive from the capital, and a bit of an adventure locating us in a rather obscure fishing village at the end of a dirt road, she and her dog Tisay made the trek.
Local ferries and homes at Port Matalvi in the Philippines.
Because of the short notice of our visit, Genny had little time to plan ahead, but she did run to the store to buy some fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, and cheese for us, and also thoughtfully emptied the pantry in her house of anything she thought we might be able to use. Cookies, caramel popcorn, chutney, salsa, pesto, cranberry sauce, and many other specialty items we hadn’t seen for a long time were a welcome gift. Thanks, Genny!
Tisay wasn’t too sure about this new adventure….
…However, once aboard, she was good as gold.
Genny was fairly content with a mango
smoothie in hand.
Genny’s visit was all too short — just one overnight —
but it was great to catch up.
After securing our overpriced diesel in jerry jugs and putting it into our tank, we continued sailing north along the coast toward the top of the Philippine Islands.
The coast of the Philippines is astonishingly busy. In the late afternoon, dozens of one-man trimarans — small wooden canoes with bamboo outriggers — came zooming out from shore. As it became dark, their lights began to show. We must’ve had 50 in sight at any given time. We both stayed on watch to maneuver through them.
Incredibly, there is also a lot of cargo shipping moving along this coast. The little boats don’t seem to move for the big ships (or for us, either). Instead, they flash a light in the hopes that we won’t run them down. Some of them showed no light until we were in collision range. Crazy.
Many of these small one-man fishing boats
came out to open water for an all-nighter.
Shipping traffic increased at the north end of Luzon, with ships passing through the Luzon Strait into the Pacific Ocean.
We made our way across the busy shipping lanes
at the top end of the Philippines.
We saw some very large ships in the South China Sea….
…very aptly named! (The name is at the top of the screen,
the other data tells us it is a 332 meter [1,080 ft] tanker,
60 meters [200 ft] wide, and 20.2 meters [61 ft] deep!)
On the 6th of May we made landfall at Houbihu Marina near the southwestern tip of Taiwan, across the bay from the holiday town of Kenting. This marina had been recommended to us as one of the easiest places to check into the country.
Arrival at Houbihu Marina at the south end of Taiwan. Note the Chinese temple in
in the background.
Although the docks at Houbihu are in need of repair,
the marina offers good protection from typhoons...
... and friendly helpers.
We had been corresponding with local sailors prior to our arrival and they'd arranged the official visits. The immigration official had to drive two hours from Kaoshiung just to check us into the country!
Local sailors Bud and José were a great help to us and made us very welcome.
A day after our arrival, a local man came to ask us if we needed anything. He introduced himself, saying “I am not a business man. I would just like to know if I can help you in any way.” He told us the names of places he recommended we visit in his country, and we made a list so that we would have it both in English and in Chinese.
We found people in Taiwan extremely friendly and very helpful. Most spoke English which was great since we could only count to 10 and say hello and thank you in Chinese.
Mr. Su helped us with a list of the places we should visit in Taiwan.
We could get to town by bicycle, but we wanted
to explore further afield and maximize our time,
so we rented a motorbike.
The first motorbike we rented had nowhere for the passenger’s feet except a tiny toehold designed for non-American-sized feet, so we swapped it out for another bike that did have foot rests. However, those foot rests were placed so that the driver would scrape his ankles on them each time he put his feet down.
The motorbikes in Taiwan presented a
challenge for our American-sized feet.
We discovered a little place that had awesome dumplings, but the only way to read the menu was with the translation app on our phone. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it gave us some really interesting food item descriptions….
BB scanning the menu for recognizable
items with a translation app.
There are some fun things to see and do around Kenting, including temples, a
very nice aquarium, and a night market where there were some especially
interesting-looking foods and an incredible number of baubles and doodads for your
phone. There’s even a Milk Shop for milk junkies like me!
We were told by other cruisers and our new Taiwanese friends that it’s actually much easier to travel around the country on land than by boat, so after getting our chores done, we left Migration securely moored at Houbihu Marina while we went touring around Taiwan by train, plane, ferry, and rental car for two and a half weeks.
Polishing (cleaning) all the diesel fuel after getting bad fuel
in Indonesia was one of many chores we wanted
to complete before going touring.
BB did some sightseeing via backhoe while I did laundry.
Migration settled in at Houbihu Marina in the south of Taiwan.
At the bus station: Off we go!
With the help of Mr. Su’s list, our various guidebooks, advice from friends living in Taiwan, and internet research, we mapped out a plan for a clockwise visit of the country.
Kaosiung is the closest big city to Kenting, and we figured we’d be going there to provision before leaving Taiwan, so we didn’t spend time there now. Instead our first stop was the old capital city of Tainan, with some historical places of interest.
We had to walk single file to get to our hotel
in Tainan. Space for scooter parking is at a
premium in this city.
Don’t miss the last line…
“The beauty of Tainan City will be Infinity and Beyond in the world.”
Our hotel offered free use of bicycles,
so we took off to see the city.
At the tourist office, there were reading glasses available for use. So thoughtful!
One of the things we immediately loved about Taiwan was the beautiful
hand-painted electrical boxes everywhere.
The old quarter of Tainan is called Anping. At the heart of Anping was a fortress built in 1625. All that remains of the fortress is the walls and the tower, called ChihKen Tower.
Fort Provintia was a Dutch outpost built in 1653 during the Dutch colonization of Taiwan. Currently the only part of the fortress that remains is the outer walls and ChihKen Tower, which was built on the foundation of the original fortress.
The grounds around the tower were lovely.
A GOLDEN ORB
We only stayed a day in Tainan, but the bikes allowed us to see a lot of the city. Much of the west coast of Taiwan is industrialized, so we hadn’t planned to spend much time there. We knew that there was a lot to see in the mountainous region in the center of the country, and along the east coast, so we wanted to concentrate on those areas. We were anxious to see Taipei, and thought it made sense to go there next since we could take the bullet train from Tainan to the capital in only two hours.
The colorful capital city of Taipei.
For a city of 2.7 million people, we were very impressed with how clean Taipei was. All indoor and many outdoor public areas had no smoking signs, including busy sidewalks, and there was no litter. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by how clean and well organized all of Taiwan was. It is a remarkably pretty country, with far more areas of preserved natural beauty than we expected. Also, public transportation is outstanding.
Subway stations in Taipei are spotless….
…and felt very safe. The pink area is a Waiting Zone
for "Female Passengers at Night".
Taipei 101, so called because it is 101 stories tall, was the tallest inhabited building in the world for a period of six years. Completed in 2004, it boasts a height of 1,670 feet, and held the “world’s tallest building” distinction until 2010 when it was displaced by the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. However, in 2011, it was awarded the title of the world’s largest and tallest “green” building because the rooftop and facade water recycling system provides 20 to 30 percent of Taipei 101’s water consumption.
The building is designed to withstand gale winds of 134 mph. It does this using a 728 ton, 18-foot diameter steel pendulum, called a tuned mass wind damper, suspended from the center of the building, and visible on the 88th and 89th floors. It’s the largest suspended wind damper in the world. BB was very anxious to see the damper and his enthusiasm was infectious; although until he explained it to me, I wasn’t altogether sure what a damper was.
Our first sighting of Taipei 101.
A tower this tall certainly deserves a
cartwheel, even in a skirt!
Despite cloudy skies, the view was spectacular.
But what about the damper?
Painted bright gold, suspended from cables in the
center of the building, it is very interesting and quite a sight.
In case you weren’t sure, its official title is the
Super Big Wind Damper!
Of course, as soon as you see it, your first thought is that you want to see it move. But do you really? This damper only moves in extremely high winds and earthquakes, and you are a hundred stories above the ground….
Well, it was our lucky day. As we were walking towards the tower, there was actually a small earthquake. We felt it, and remarked at how cool it would’ve been to be in the tower when it happened. We then thought no more about it. But as we stood admiring this technological wonder, unbelievably, there was another earthquake! Not so big as to really frighten the crowds, but enough so that people grabbed onto railings and walls for support. And as we watched, the damper began to move. How exciting! We could see the stabilizing pistons around the base of the damper doing their job to keep the damper from hitting the walls, as the cables swung about an inch back and forth before gradually coming to a standstill again.
And the tower was still standing, so the damper must’ve done its job.
Like so many other places in this part of the world,
Taipei 101 has its own mascot: the Damper Baby.
We obligingly took the photo.
And why does such a building have an adorable mascot,
you ask? So they can sell stuff with the mascot on it, of course!
Like most of the cities we visited in Taiwan, there was a system of rental bikes, called YouBikes in Taipei, available all over the city. It worked well. They were good sturdy bicycles, people did not steal the bikes, we could use a credit card for hourly rental, and we saw the locals using them regularly. Coupled with that, there were substantial bike lanes along most sidewalks that were respected by the pedestrians. What a dream for a cyclist.
The YouBikes even had a skirt guard with a cute mascot.
What more could a cyclist ask?
If you visit Taipei, don’t neglect to have a
delicious mango shaved ice and ice cream sundae.
They’re incredible and big enough to share.
Near Taipei 101, we visited the National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall — a distinctive-looking edifice built in 1972 and surrounded by a lovely park. This memorial is dedicated to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. Dr. Sun Yat Sen is considered to be the forerunner of democratic revolution and one of the greatest leaders of modern China. He is unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered amongst the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial.
We then rented YouBikes again and made our way to Chiang Kai-shek Plaza. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a beautiful white marble building with a blue tile roof surrounded by well-manicured gardens. The inside was modeled after the Lincoln Memorial.
Stately Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Chiang Kai-shek said, “The purpose of living is
to improve the living of whole human beings…”
The entrance gates to the plaza are also quite stunning.
The National Theater and National Concert Hall are situated opposite each other across the wide plaza. We checked to see if there were any concerts playing, and were in luck. The organ inside the big hall was fabulous, and we both very much enjoyed the piano concert we attended.
The concert hall in Chiang Kai-shek plaza.
We even got to hear the organ played. Simply wonderful.
The Taipei National Palace Museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, and it is excellent. It’s a short bus ride out of the city, and is surrounded by a beautiful garden.
The Taipei National Palace Museum and gardens.
We had read that there was a pretty stretch of coastline about an hour east of Taipei, and we wanted to see a bit of the surrounding area, so we took the train to the touristy area of Fulong, where the Taiwan World Sand Sculpting Competition happened to be taking place. It was a blustery, rainy day, but it was nice to see lots of people in attendance anyway.
The sand sculptures were intricate and creative.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been to a country where dogs are well cared for.
It was nice to see….
…but then things got a bit ridiculous.
Who said this?
FIRE OPAL OPULENCE
When we were in Borneo, we met a couple who had lived in the Penghu Islands off the west coast of Taiwan. They had told us it was beautiful, and that we should sail there. However, winds in that area tend to be high, and since we had decided to do our traveling around Taiwan by other means, we chose to fly there from Taipei, then return to the mainland by ferry, just to get an overall view of that part of the country.
At Penghu Island, we stayed in a quaint B&B with teddy bears on the bed, which made for good entertainment with some of the other guests.
"Remember Seaview B&B" in Penghu was a colorful and fun place to stay. And what a great name!
Lots of green food for breakfast….
As predicted, it was very windy the
whole time we were at Penghu.
Our B&B kindly offered bikes for use, but the seat posts were surprisingly short, providing a good workout for our legs. Nonetheless, we did a lot of touring around by both bicycle and scooter.
A bicycle designed for someone with much
shorter legs than mine…
Touring around Penghu Island.
Getting clarification on the ferry schedule required
concentrated use of multiple translation devices.
Such a cheerful ferry building!
There is a lot of traffic surveillance in Taiwan. This was the first place we saw tiny video cameras mounted on the windshield in nearly every vehicle: taxis, buses, private cars, and trains. The camera runs in a continuous loop. We were told they are there in case of an accident. However, the government surveillance system goes far beyond that. There are cameras at almost every light and on nearly all the roads, even the winding mountain roads, and ticketing for speeding is highly automated. When we rented our car, a hefty deposit was required because our agent expected us to incur fines. He told us he had never had a renter who did not get a speeding ticket.
I am proud to say that we received a full refund of our deposit, but it was painful to drive the very slow speed limits during our several days of car rental. The top limit was 70 kilometers per hour (43 mph), which we saw in only a few places (the speed limit was usually 60 km/hour on highways), and on many major roads the speed limit was 40 km/hour, which is only 24 miles an hour!
Note the video camera mounted on the windshield.
The mountain village of Alishan was high on our list of places to visit in Taiwan. There is an old narrow-gauge railway that goes up into the mountains, and we were lucky to get in the first car, where we could look through the conductor’s cabin to see the view forward as we climbed the steep winding railway.
The railway up to Alishan in the central mountains of Taiwan.
We knew we were arriving in a very different part of
Taiwan when we reached the station at the top of the mountain.
Leave your horse at home when you visit the loo in Taiwan.
Black eggs, anyone?
The view from the train station.
After finding a place to stay and exploring the small village of Alishan, and not yet having had enough of trains, we took a gorgeous old cedar car carriage further up the mountain to access the hiking trails.
The entire train station was also built of cedar wood.
The map of the train route makes it look as
though the train ties itself in a knot.
It had been nice and warm throughout the rest of the country, but now, at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), we had to bundle up in long pants, sweaters, and jackets. We even had to wear shoes and socks! We were also glad we had remembered to pack rain gear as it was very damp in the Alishan forest area. Although the cooler air was refreshing, it was a bit of a shock to our system. Hiking kept us warm, so we did a lot of it.
Alishan, elevation 2,182 meters. (7,158 ft)
The cedar forest was truly beautiful, the valleys lush and green.
In addition to the thick forest of trees, there were picturesque old bridges and areas with poems
engraved on polished rocks alongside the path.
There were rules. No Striding? Why on earth would striding not be allowed?
Additional surprises included a temple hiding in the forest, gorgeous flowers in a clearing, and a hidden emerald lake.
There were signs on most of the paths with descriptions of many of the larger trees. Entertaining signage included:
“The gigantic Taiwan red cypress is not standing alone, but some of them will
make you feel astonishing.”
“You can bathe yourself in the air ﬁlled with odorous smell of Phytoncide, and you will feel very comfortable and relaxing.”!
We always enjoy reading the creative English of the descriptive signs.
The larger trees, some over 3,000 years old,
were deserving of a cartwheel.
The Alishan area is famous for its mountain-grown oolong tea, so we made our way to one of the many shops and did an ofﬁcial tasting. The tea has a very distinctive ﬂavor, since the leaves are grown at such altitude.
Tea tasting is a serious affair in Alishan.
At dinner, I enjoyed the view while BB once
again tried to decipher the menu with help
from the translation app on the phone.
Breakfast at our hotel was the
usual odd mix of foods, including
baked beans and stewed carrots.
Sunset in the mountains of Alishan.
AN AQUAMARINE LAKE
We descended from the mountains in a thick fog (it made the bus ride exciting) to Sun Moon Lake, a resort area with a nice bike ride around the lake.
We had a beautiful day for a 26 km bike ride around Sun Moon Lake.
The lake is a glowing color of green.
Unusual fishing boat with giant net.
We saw some great menu items at the restaurants around Sun Moon Lake. For example…
Moose Cake, multiple ﬂavors!
Rosast the pig’s rib…
Roasted pepper salt bee’s pupa and Japan’s sauce pteridophyte….
And my personal favorite: Water convovulus of sour banboo shoots.
Back in 2015, in Langkawi, Malaysia, we'd met Petr & Jana, a young sailing couple from Czech Republic who had been living in Taiwan. We'd been in touch trying to organize a rendezvous. By the time we got to Taiwan, Petr had returned to the Czech Republic and Jana was heading there soon; she was very busy finishing up work projects and moving out of their apartment. Jana wrote to tell us that she was planning to be in Kaoshiung, on the southwest corner of Taiwan, to visit a friend. So we planned to meet there, then travel together to Hualien which is on the northeast corner of the island.
Jana’s friend Kevin welcomed us to his apartment and treated us royally. His place was spacious and had a nice view of Kaoshiung harbor.
That night there was a going-away party for Jana where we met most of the sailors in Taiwan.
(There are only about a dozen, total.)
We took the slower and much less expensive train to Hualien with Jana, but we didn’t mind as it gave us a chance to catch up, since we hadn’t seen her for over a year.
Even the inexpensive trains in Taiwan have
sleek design features.
Hanging out with Jana in Hualien.
We were now on the east coast of Taiwan, and what we most wanted to see in this area was Taroko Gorge. All of our guidebooks recommended it highly, and Jana said it is not to be missed. Taroko is a stunning gorge carved out of marble by a rushing mountain river. There are local buses that ply the mountain roads, but the best way to really explore it thoroughly is by car, so we rented as inexpensive a car as we could find (not an easy thing to do in Taiwan) with the intent of spending a few days in the gorge, then driving down the east coast to return to Kenting.
The cool, clear waters at the eastern end of Taroko gorge were very inviting.
We found some lovely areas in which to swim…
…and equally pretty places to do cartwheels.
As we drove further into the gorge, the scenery became increasingly spectacular.
Those red bridges really acentuate the natural scenery.
When swimming in the chilly river water made us too overwhelmingly cold, we sought out one of the many natural hot springs.
Besides having a great name, "Taroko Mountain Dream Homestay B&B" had wildlife in abundance, including cats and butterﬂies and dogs and chickens.
We were beginning to see some wildlife, especially at the B&B where we stayed.
Once again, the signage provided good entertainment and a quotable quote.
“Flowers help butterﬂies, butterﬂies help ﬂowers,
all things coexist and mutually prosper,
which is why life is so colorful.”
Taroko Gorge is a very narrow canyon with marble walls. Its beauty rivals many of the canyons we’ve seen in the US and around the world. Even after reading about Taroko and hearing how spectacular it was, we were not disappointed. Every turn revealed a more stunning vista, and the engineering of the roads and tunnels through the canyon is a marvel.
There were well-maintained trails and quite a few swing bridges. We did a lot of hiking.
There was also a lot of seemingly unnecessary signage.
One of our hikes took us to a temple in the clouds with an awesome view of the gorge.
We continued driving up the gorge along winding roads to reach the mountaintops above — an area called Hehuanshan. The view was obscured by clouds much of the time, but occasionally we got a peek of the valleys below, and a bit of blue sky appeared.
Clearing rockfalls as we drove was just part of the process.
A lot of the roadway and most of the tunnels were single lane only.
Some of the mountain wildﬂowers were in bloom, and it was very beautiful at altitude.
On one of our hikes, we encountered a group
of recent graduates taking a celebratory trip
to the mountains together.
We drove back down the mountain and continued south along the beautiful and sparsely-populated east coast of Taiwan. Our next stop was a detour back up into the mountains to Lisong Hot Springs, which we had been told of by a local who does tours for select groups of adventure travelers. He doesn’t tell many people about this particular hot spring because getting to it is a considerable challenge, requiring a good level of ﬁtness and determination.
The beginning of the 2-hour hike down
to Lisong Hot Springs.
Fortunately, many previous visitors had
left behind their cotton gloves to help
with the steep climbs.
There were leeches in the river (but not in the hot spring).
Once down in the canyon, we crawled along the
walls of the river, until the hot spring came into view.
The spring sat in a small alcove at the side of the river with beautiful orange, white, and yellow calcite formations covered with dripping mosses of bright emerald green and multiple shades of brown; it was the most stunning hot spring either of us has ever seen. And the challenge of getting to this remote place of such incredible beauty only added to our delight.
Lisong — the most beautiful hot spring we’ve ever seen.
Drifting back downriver with the current.
A troupe of friendly dogs greeted us at the top of the steep trail and accompanied us
all the way back to our car.
The road was very crooked coming down out
of the mountainous central region.
Dozens of the rockfalls require constant
clean up and road repair. In a country prone
to earthquakes, road crews have good job security.
Beautiful waterfalls abound in Taiwan.
Once we reached the east coast of Taiwan,
the blue sky reappeared, and the
Pacific Ocean welcomed us back.
One of the best names for a bus company ever.
We drove slowly down the coast and back to the south tip of Taiwan where Migration awaited us. After couple of days to provision and prepare her for sea, we set off on our short voyage to the southern islands of Japan.
Taiwan had a been a wonderful surprise. Fine people, interesting food, unexpected natural beauty. A lucky stop at this gem in the sea.
“A gem cannot be polished without friction,
nor a man perfected without trials.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“There is no gem like virtue, no wealth like
happiness, no treasure like faith, and no jewel like love.”
~ Matshona Dhliwayo
Where we went April 2016 -
1,357 nautical miles traveled this period.
43,258 nautical miles aboard Migration since leaving Long Beach in June 2005.
THIS MIGRATION'S DO GOOD
In the U.S.A., 500 million (MILLION!) straws are thrown away every day. You can help stop all of this plastic from ending up in our rivers, oceans, and bodies. Start by specifying "no straw" when ordering a drink (including water). Read more here.
As we've mentioned in previous Migrations...
Please help in the fight to protect our planet, our children, and the future of our country. America's president has demonstrated that he has no intention of protecting the environment. Alene and I have witnessed the changes in our environment. Although the president and the Republican party are still denying climate change, it is happening. If you have children, or grandchildren, or nieces or nephews, and you do not believe humankind is affecting the climate, ask yourself this one question: What if you are wrong? If you are, you are condemning the young members of your family, and children across the earth, to a dismal, difficult, and possibly torturous future. Please oppose the president's environmental policies.
Donate to NRDC. They are one of the finest organizations out there and they will be working hard to protect our world. No matter who you voted for in the last election (or didn't vote for), please support NRDC. Our world depends on it. Really.
This site was last updated 11/22/17