Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taipei In A Day (台北一日遊) Highlighted in Taiwan's Most Popular Travel Magazine

Here's the link to the article:
Taipei In A Day Includes: Taiwan From A To Z, First Edition (台北一日遊)

The book is available here, Amazon.com and at Barnes andNoble.com. In Taipei the book is available at Cherry Valley Bookstore, Tienmu East Road, Lane 8, #99,Tienmu, Taipei (behind TAS)(台北市士林區天母東路8巷99號) (02) 2876-9293.

Thank you again for making Taipei In A Day the highest-rated Taiwan travel book on amazon.com! --Scott

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Giant Pandas Arrive On Taiwan

Two giant pandas, Tuan-tuan and Yuan-yuan, arrived on Taiwan this evening. The pandas are from the Sichuan province in southwest China, and it's a big deal: TVBS news dedicated an entire minute of air time of the two pandas quietly consuming their first meal of bamboo shoots in Taipei (imagine, an entire minute of two pandas silently chewing...chewing...chewing). It's as if Taiwan has received the John Lennon and Paul McCartney of pandas.

The pandas are symbolic because this "gift" indicates warming ties between Mainland China and Taiwan. Not surprisingly, when their first names ("tuan yuan") are said together it means "reunion," which may have political overtones considering that's precisely what the Mainland is hoping for.

The pandas arrived along with a 32-member delegation and had an elaborate "6-star" facility constructed for them at Taipei Zoo in Muzha by Shin Kong Group at a cost of NT$310 million (US$9.37 million). The panda exhibit will open to the public on January 25, just in time for Chinese Lunar New Year (no coincidence, it's when just about everything else will be closed). Expect extensive news coverage of the vast throngs of excited children (and adults) eager to see the exhibit. Hopefully the showrooms will be soundproof so the crowds don't frighten our two new furry friends.

If you don't think the pandas will be living in style, their facility includes a modern international conference hall for politicians, VIPs and other movers and shakers to observe them while wheeling and dealing; perhaps local companies hope that they'll score a better deal while international business representatives are overwhelmed by the site of the two pandas rolling around and chomping on bamboo? An expansive hall on the second floor is where the rest of us could view the two cuddly-looking animals. The ground floor has two air-conditioned "showrooms" (245 and 210 square meters, respectively), which will be naturally ventilated during the winter.

Will the two mate? That's what zoo officials are hoping for. If you think human conception is difficult, pandas have a three-month mating period, and during that time the female's estrous cycle lasts for only three days (and the fact that the male panda has a very small penis doesn't help, either). If you suggest panda porn to get the two in the mood, you're not far off: according to one local newspaper, "The zoo is...planning to show Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan videos of mating pandas to try to arouse their interest in mating."

Expect to see a plethora of panda t-shirts, dolls, and other panda paraphernalia for sale at the zoo, department stores, various retail locations and of course, at night markets around the island. Remember Hulkamania? In about a month, we'll see on Taiwan Pandamania running wild...

The story was reported here and here.

Updates

Hall Yard Resort (花月溫泉館) in Beitou, which was said to have been undergoing renovation to be reopened, has closed. For the best hot springs to frequent in the area please see Hot Springs (溫泉) on page 73.

While in town you'd be remiss not to visit Beitou, a Taipei district rife with serene green parks and natural hot springs. Try Spring City Resort (春天酒店), Youya Road, #18, Beitou District, Taipei City (台北市北投區幽雅路18號) (02) 2897-5555. They have outstanding outdoor warm and cold springs so kids could play while the adults relax.

Beitou District has a lot to offer in terms of cultural life, as well, there are several museums such as Beitou Hot Springs Museum (北投溫泉博物館), Zhongshan Road, #2, Beitou District, Taipei (台北市北投區中山路2號) (02) 2893-9981. The museum is only a three-minute walk from Xinbeitou Station (新北投站).

Also check out Hell Valley (地熱谷), a natural sulfuric pond at the end of Zhongshan Road (中山路), approximately ten minutes by foot from Xinbeitou Station (新北投站). It takes around 25 minutes to reach Beitou Station from Taipei Main Station.

Another must-see while you're in town is Danshui (淡水), the last stop on the red line station heading north from Taipei. There are ample parks (with horseback riding behind the MRT weekends), historic relics and a wharf, which also boasts a sprawling park that the kids would enjoy. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) ride to Danshui takes about fifty-minutes from Taipei Main Station but it’s worth the trek.

In May the weather tends to be hot and sunny in the morning and early afternoon (around 80 F) with intermittent showers during late afternoons, and umbrellas can be purchased easily (and inexpensively) at most convenience stores. It cools down evenings and is hit or miss as far as light showers go.

Due to the success of the observatory at Taipei 101, Topview Taipei, Shin Kong Observatory (新光摩天展望台), has closed.

TAIPEI SEA WORLD (Fin’s Life Taipei) (台北海洋生活館) has closed.

Fu Lin Men (福臨門) Cantonese-style restaurant at Danshui Station (淡水捷運總站) has closed.

The Maokong Gondola (貓空纜車) is currently being renovated due to land erosion and is not expected to open until sometime in 2010.