February 28, 2009
2009 Spring Round-up
Spring has seemingly sprung here in Taiwan over the last couple of weeks. It’s a glorious time to visit actually, as the evenings are still relatively cool and the days very warm, and with the warm weather, Taiwan is bursting into color.
 
 
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the seasons change in Taiwan. One day wrapped up warm in thick jackets and the next having to turn on the fan to cool down. If you are coming to Taiwan in the next few weeks, I’d still bring a jacket but pack shorts as well.
 
 
Every year at this time there is a flower festival in Yangmingshan National Park, with cherry blossoms, rhododendrons and azaleas aplenty. It is beautiful but does get rather crowded. If you don’t mind the crowds though, here is how to get there.
 
 
There are also magnificent displays of cherry blossoms in Alishan at this time of year. In light of this, the Alishan Forest Railway will be running extra trains from Chiayi from the middle of March to the middle of April. This train ride is well worth it, at least in one direction as I previously reported.
 
 
An event I am determined to get to this year is the International Orchid Show in Tainan. It’s been highly recommended by several friends, and as Tainan is a great place to visit it provides for an excellent excuse. In fact apart from Kinmen, I think Tainan is the place I have photographed most in my travels around Taiwan and an article is well overdue. With the High Speed Rail it only takes an hour and forty-five minutes so there really is no excuse for not going.
 
 
Wax apples are plentiful right now, and are a must try. I think they are best eaten after being refrigerated, but that’s not a necessity. They are incredibly juicy, in fact when eating as juicy as a watermelon but without the annoying seeds. Typically the darker the color (and most are red in Taiwan) the sweeter they are, and a good sweet wax apple is incredibly refreshing. There can be a seed inside, but to eat, just wash, bite and enjoy.
 
 
Probably the largest music festival in Taiwan, Spring Scream, takes place in early April in Kenting. A plethora of local and overseas bands rock perform, and there is a generally festive atmosphere with DJs, art exhibits, stalls etc.
 
 
Kenting itself is considered a “resort? town” but I think the main drag has lost a lot of its charm as the beaches have been bought by hotels or hit by erosion. There are nice beaches along the coast however, and there are other things to see and do around the peninsular. The slower pace of life can also be a nice contrast to the cities, but if you head down during weekends and especially during Spring Scream, make sure you have accommodation sorted out in advance.
 
Sports wise, if you enjoy tennis, you can catch Taiwan’s Davis Cup tie against India on March 6-8 in Kaohsiung.? There is some excitement in Taiwan tennis at the moment over Lu Yen-hsun, who has already beaten Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian this year.
 
 
If you would like to do some exercise instead of just watching, the 2009 North Coast Cycle Race will take place on Saturday 21st March 2009. The race starts in Wanli and takes in a lot of the beautiful northeast coast. You can find information on registering for the race here.
 

 
Another reason to visit Miaoli this spring. Apart from heading down to pick strawberries, the?Miaoli International Music Festival will be held from March 19 to March 21. This year Placido Domingo, one of “The Three Tenors,” will be performing among the many other artists.
 
There are of course other things going on around the island, and it really is a good time to visit. Drop me a line if you’d like more info on these events, but for now, I’m off to explore!
 

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