FoGuangShan is one of the most influencial Buddhism temple in Taiwan. It was founded by Master XingYun, who come to Taiwan with KMY government on late 1940s. The place is big enough to accomdate one college, one high school, one dormitory for the prayer, and serval tourist shops. I have heard of this place for long time, but I came here with a non-buddhist. Lucky enough I could proudly introduce my religion to my friend.
This place locates in the remote area of Kaohsiung County, please take a bus 150, 151 here. It takes you more than an hour to arrive from KH Train Station.
Masters here are very friendly, if you are not a buddhist, it's okay, you don't need to pray with incense, but as a matter of politeness, please hold you hand and greet to the buddha statue. You are always more polite to greet if you enter someone's home.
Guanin Mountain Area...
If your looking for a patch of green to get away from the big city of Kaohsiung, Guanin Mountains is not a bad choice. Well, its really not a mountain, just a hilly area that sits west of Kaohsiung. And you are not likely to see many(if any) tourists here, but it does seem to be quite popular with the locals.
There are quite a few trails that wind their way thru the odd shaped peaks of Guanin. Also, many a street vendor has taken up camp on the roads that lead up to the park.
And the best part about Guanin Mt. is that is really really close to my house.. (I can probably be here in 15 minutes or so...)
Though no tropical paradise, Liuchiu island does make a good place to head to get away from Kaohsiung.
There are a few things to see out here. Some old traditional chinese homes of fishermen, caves, a sandy beach or two, and diving/snorkeling is also available.
It makes for a pretty enjoyable day to take the ferry out from Linyuan. (about a 30 minute ride...) Then rent a scooter to tour around the island, with a sunset beach party to end the day... (the beaches out here are 100% cleaner than those found around Kaohsiung...)
Though Kaohsiung is the smogged choked sorta place that it is, it is pretty easy to get out into the mountains for some more breathable air. One good option, which isnt so far away is Santimen, which is home to the Paiwan tribe of aborginals.
The town of Santimen itself is nice and all, though has a bit of a tourist feel to it. A better option is to head a bit further into the brush to find a more authentic village.
If you head up the mountain road (rte 24) east from Santimen, there is a turn off about 10 kms up. Follow the switchback path down the hill (4WD recommended) till you dead end at a suspension walkway.
Cross the river here and follow this path uphill for about 40 minutes and you will come across a real Paiwan aboriginal farming village complete with the original stone houses that they build here. (Pretty amazing, the construction method seems to be just piling on one stone after the other. Best I can tell no mortar or wood...)
All in all a nice day out of the big city....
Cheng Ching Lake
Though nothing of great note to your typical tourist, Cheng Ching Lake is a rare green spot in an otherwise gray city. It is also a pretty nice place to get away from the traffic/smog/congestion of Kaohsiung.
And conveniently enough, its located just a few minutes from where I live in Kaohsiung... (Just across the lake in this picture....)
Sorry no five star ski resorts at Taiwan's version of :"Sun Valley", just lunar landscapes to be had...
This is the sorta place that you would never expect to find in Taiwan... Looks like it belongs in Death Valley or some place like that....
Like most of Taiwan, Kaohsiung county has its share of geothermal activity... Including the so-called "muddy volcano" which is maybe 25 Kms north of the city...
Strange place, you can here the ground gurgling below you and see the hot mud oozing out of the ground in several spots....
Chuanfanshr, otherwise known as 'Sail Rock' is just off the southern coast. The rock is actually a piece of coral reef rock which broke off the tableland. It was given the name because from a distance the rock looks like an open sail. Some however have said that from a certain angle, the rock looks like the former President Richard Nixon.
Forming the Gorge
Taroka means beautiful in the Ami dialect and you will certainly see why when you visit. At Swallow Grotto you will see sheer cliff towers.
The gorges, waterfalls and rapids were formed from the flow of the Liwu River. Taroka Gorge located about 15 kms from Hualien.
Chuhuo is another area where there are several of these areas. Chuhuo is part of the Kenting shale. You are advised to go during the dry months as during the wet season, the fissures often block up with mud.
There are several areas in the Kenting National Park area where you will see the ground on fire. This is caused by fissures in the ground where natural gas is escaping and igniting. I believe there is now a wall built around one of these more popular areas for protection and safety of visitors.
Eternal Spring Shrine
Eternal Spring Shrine (a short hike from the highway) commemorates the workers who died in building the Central Cross Island Highway. Above the shrine, there is a traditional style bell and drum towers. The bell is rung to welcome the morning, and the drumbeat farewells to the setting sun. A waterfall passing through the pavilion.
Maolin/Tona Hot Springs
Suprisingly, the Maolin/Tona area is only a little more than one hour's drive from Kaohsiung.
The area extends about 25 KM's into the mountains from Maolin. Here you can find several waterfalls, an aboriginal center, natural hot springs (at Tona), and many places along the river valley where you can just hang out.
Try the native barbeque while you are here, also there are several stores that sell stone crafts in Tona village.
Be careful when down at the hot springs. The rocks around there are all shale, and can be slippery. (As Uncle Joe's bruised tail bone will attest to...)
- Hiking and Walking
South Cross Island Highway
There are several ways to cross the island of Taiwan, the safest being to either bypass the mountains by looping around to the North or South.
However, the for the most scenic/scary adventure, try the South Cross Island Highway. This road bisects the island from Taitung to Tainan. Here you will cross 9000 ft high cliff hanger goat path roads and pass through tunnels that resemble leaky coal mine shafts. The area is complete with rainforest type scenery and monkeys scurrying about..
Driving across this road in the fog, I once almost ran head-on into a boulder large enough to bury a VW microbus.
The one saving grace is that there is usually not much traffic on this road, since even the locals are afraid of driving here. The best time to visit this area is fall/winter/early spring to avoid the rainy/landslide season...
- Hiking and Walking
Kentung National Park
The park is on the southernmost tip of the Hengchun Peninsula in the Pingtung Area and boasts Taiwan's best beach resort. Within the park are coral reefs and tropical rain forests. There are wonderful varieties of plants and wildlife. On the furthermost tip is Oluanpi Lighthouse.
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