Taiwan II - Northern Taiwan

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This page is on the northern part of Taiwan. I'll follow the geographical order by going from north to south. Let's start with Keelung (or Chi-lung) at the northeastern end of the island, the 2nd largest sea port in Taiwan (after Kao-hsiung). Keelung is nicknamed "the rainy port," and it's not hard to see why. It was raining so hard that day I almost ruined my camera. A small city with population of about 400k, the town is quiet, slow, and a bit grayish like the weather. The following are pix of the port and a Taoism temple

Love their seafood market. Here you can find Globe Fishes (2nd pic), Sea Urchins (3rd), lobsters, coral shrimps, crabs, shell fishes, sea snails, and even colorful Coral Fishes (last pic).

The Globe Fish has to be the cutest one. When frighten, they inflate themselves into a thorny balloon by sucking a large amount of air or water into their highly elastic stomach. That usually scare away the predators, or at least keep them from being swallowed. This is why they are also called Porcupine Fish. Another thing about globe fish, they are extremely delicious but lethally poisonous. Depending on the species, their skin or internal organs may contain certain neural toxin (tetrodotoxin) that paralyzes the muscles and the victims eventually die of asphyxiation. After all those biology and physiology lessons, I surprised myself by ordering a dish of globe fish skin salad (last pic)-- you really need to trust the chef here. Anyway, it was a great dish, with wasabi dipping, and I'm still sitting here, alive, writing this web page.

The Peace Island is about 4 km from Keelung's downtown. It is known for its unique rock terrain eroded by ocean current over the years.

Interesting creatures here, mostly arthropods and shore birds. In these pix are White Striped Crab (2 pix); a Rock Crab (1 pic); fast-moving Scubs (2 pix); and in the last pic, a Snowy Egret.


Tam Sui. A small town of Taipei County, northwest of the city of Taipei. It was said that the history of Taiwan is condensed in this small fishing town. Located at the exit of Tamsui River (Tamsui means fresh water in Chinese), it was built in 1629 by the Spanish, then named Santo Domingo. The declining Spanish was soon expelled by the emerging Dutch, who built a fortress (Fort Anthonio) that overlook the exit of Tamsui River in 1640s. The point of all the hustle is in the last pic: to dominate the oriental trade route for spice, tea, silk...

In 1661, the Chinese, led by Koxinga, defeated the Dutch and took Taiwan back. In the 1800s, the Qing Dynasty established a naval outpost here and opened Tamsui for foreign trade. The 1st 3 pix is the left over of the old Huwei Emplacement and the in last 2 pix the pretty white building was the old Customer Officer's Residence during the Qing Dynasty.

In the later years, Taiwan defeated invasion by the French, but finally fell into the hand of Japanese 1895, un till Japan surrendered after WWII (1945). Every period left its mark, but after all these years, Tamsui is still this small, slow-moving fishing town. The following pix are the Port of Tamsui (3 pix) and Fisherman's Wharf (4th).

The best thing about a fishing town is seafood, lots of them. Late in the afternoon, people gather along the bank of the Tamsui River -- the night market come into life. I tried the stinky tofu with spicy sauce, yum.

On the bank of Tamsui River, millions of these small Fiddler Crabs emerge from the muddy dungeons looking for food. The name obviously come from their funny asymmetric claws, one is tiny but the other is ridiculously large, resembling a person playing the bigger claw as a fiddler. The larger claw serves well as a weapon, a masculinity display, and a communication tool. The smaller claw picks up microbe for food.


Hsin Chu, in northwest Taiwan. A small but surging city. It started as a farming village in the 1690s. This dark alley (2nd - 4th pix) in downtown Hsin Chu today was where the village first established. Since the establishment of a science and technology industry park in 1978, Hsin Chu has become the technology center of Taiwan. Today it hosts some 360 high tech companies, including TSMC, Philips, and UMC.

The East Gate (1st pic) is the landmark and Cheng Huang Miao is a temple dedicated to local deities. Usually tourists go to the temple not for the deities but for the eateries and market here with variety of local treats, like meat balls, rice vermicelli, and oyster omelets.

Still in Cheng Huang Miao. These three guys in the 1st pic are in charge of local people's longevity, money (or career), and happiness. Then fat guy in the 2nd pic somehow is put in charge of academic success, so lots of students are here to pray for their final exams. The 2nd last pic, that restaurant has the best oyster omelets. The grocery market is so designed that you can go shopping on a scooter (last pic), amazing.

The Port of Hsin Chu (Nanliao) is an important fishing port in north Taiwan. Again, lots of seafood...


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