Nantou, Taiwan

In the Heart of the Other China

Early morning on the lake
Two Taiwanese who previously worked in Taipei enjoy the clear water of Sun Moon Lake.
lacustrine art
Line of boats moored in a small dock on Sun Moon Lake, on a foggy morning.
A Sacred View
Visitors enjoy Sun Moon Lake scenery from an elevated balcony of the Wenwu temple.
sun moon lake
Idyllic setting of Sun Moon Lake, beyond a dense swath of tropical vegetation.
Early morning at Lake II
Taiwanese who previously worked in Taipei enjoy the clear water of Sun Moon Lake.
aboriginal Taiwanese
One of the participants in Formosan Aboriginal Village's Aboriginal-inspired shows.
university bridge
Taiwanese visiting Hsitou cross the University lake on a wooden bridge.
A Divine-Leonine Protection
One of the stone lions guarding the entrance to the Wenwu temple on the shores of Sun Moon Lake.
Taiwanese piggybacks
Boyfriends walk along a small garden boulevard at Formosan Aboriginal Village.
Reading in wood
Visitors to Formosan Aboriginal Village examine a message board posted at the entrance.
Early Morning on Lake III
Taiwanese who previously worked in Taipei enjoy the clear water of Sun Moon Lake.
morning swim
Julia, a teacher who has worked most of her life in Taipei and retired to live on the shores of Sun Moon Lake, in the heart of Nantou province.
among totems
A group of Taiwanese passes among a group of totems that retrieve the originals of the Aboriginal people, in Formosan Aboriginal Village.
divinity of wood
Detail of one of the imitations of the totems used in the animist beliefs of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan.
Formosan Aboriginal Village employee repairs one of the platforms in front of the Formosan Aboriginal Village concert stage.
Nantou Mountains
Lush slopes of Nantou province, Taiwan's only province completely cut off from the Pacific Ocean.

Nantou is Taiwan's only province isolated from the Pacific Ocean. Those who discover the mountainous heart of this region today tend to agree with the Portuguese navigators who named Taiwan Formosa.

One of so many tropical depressions gradually unravels over Taiwan and the weather shows itself, over the island, with gestures and whims that come back to surprise us with every ten kilometers that pass, with a crazy intermittence between thinly cloudy skies. and scorching sun and cumulus nimbus frightening ones that pour out floodwaters.

We have Jack at the wheel. This is the English-speaking version of the name chubby driver who knows little else in English and calls the boss to talk to us whenever he encounters a lack of information or difficulties of other kinds.

"It contains boss!” communicates us for the umpteenth time since we had left the capital Taipei. "Speak, speak!.” And hand us the cell phone.

In conference with the boss, we decided it was time to leave the lush depths of Taroko Gorge and head southwest towards the province's main city, the namesake Nantou and Hsitou. The route takes us around, on its north face, Mount Chilaichushanpei, one of the most imposing in old Formosa.

We are in one of the most seismic domains on Earth. Jack is very present. In his swashbuckling MMA style, he patiently researches a translator of his diminutive smart phone and communicates to us almost in ecstasy: “This road before cabuuum! fall down. "

"before” It was a while ago but no Taiwanese will ever forget the famous 921 earthquake, so named for having happened on September 21, 1999, with an approximate maximum intensity of 8.0 and epicenter in Jiji, a mere dozen kilometers from where we walked. The earthquake killed nearly 2.500 people and left more than 100.000 homeless.

It was labeled by the local press as the Earthquake of the Century, also due to the dissatisfaction and the economic and political devastation it generated, with the defeat of the Kuomintang party in the 2000 elections.

We pass Wushe and then Puli, along the Central Cross Island Highway and between steep slopes, many of them brimming with one of the good teas of the East.

Even though practically all the villages in the province were seriously affected, when we arrived in Hsitou we didn't detect any sign of this event. There reigns a verdant peace of mind such as we haven't felt for a long time, preserved in a dense fog that stubbornly refused to rise. We settled in an elegant inn built largely out of bamboo and, as soon as we left to explore the surrounding rainforest, we noticed the almost excessive abundance of that leafy and exotic reedbed.

Like New status quo of pseudo-nation of the Republic of China, the reforestation of the area has been one of the main projects and with great success. Also during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, a forest reserve was established. The National Taiwan University that now runs it grows more than a million trees – cypresses, cedars and pine trees – and bamboo shoots every year in its terraced nurseries. Later, they are distributed around the island, where they can be most needed.

Compared to the pressure cooker atmosphere in which certain areas are surrounded, the climate of Hsitou is refreshing and the place has become very popular as a weekend getaway, also among couples on honeymoon. When Friday arrives, it is invaded by a population of Taipei eager to relax from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in communion with Nature. As we had been worn out from the many hundreds of kilometers already covered by car and on foot, we too indulged in an uncommitted escape, entertained by circling the University Lake and exploring the paths that follow the streams that feed it. At the end of one of them, we came across a cypress tree almost 50 m high, believed to be 2800 years old.

The origin of the lake to which we moved next is much earlier. And, were it not for a hydroelectric project still being developed by the Japanese, instead of just one, there would still be two, side by side. Instead, the dam that the Japanese erected merged into one, the largest in Taiwan, more than 9 km in area. Most of the inhabitants did not resent the move beyond that. In addition to being superlative, the new reservoir of bluish and limpid waters had enormous charm. Accordingly, much more than Hsitou, Sun Moon Lake is the island's main natural attraction. Many Taipei workers are eager to buy houses in the vicinity so that they can retire in harmony in the second half of their lives.

By the time we got there, Jack couldn't find the opposite opportunity. As soon as he hung up the always hyperactive phone, he made a point of expressing displeasure at the time we had already forced him to spend away from his home in the capital. "Wife very angry! Have to go back!"

We are well aware of the duration of the task he had been given and we chose to ignore his outbursts once again. Instead, we asked him to take us to the Wenwu temple, which replaced two much older ones that were submerged by the hydroelectric dam. There, we defeated the guard of two intimidating red stone guard lions and climbed the stairs to explore two distinct wings: one dedicated to the war gods Guan Gong and Yue Fei, and a later one erected in honor of Confucius.

Very distinct deities were worshiped in Taiwan before the massive occupation of the Han ethnic group who migrated to the island from the XNUMXth century, mainly from the Fujian region, on the coast of mainland China.

Several Aboriginal tribes inhabited Taiwan for at least 10.000 years, coming from other islands in the Pacific, in such a way that the original Taiwanese are much more similar to the Filipino people who, for the most part, belong to the Malay ethnic group). Once, the only occupants of Formosa, the aborigines make up, today, only 2% (almost 400.000) of the more than 20 million inhabitants. Even so, they are divided into eleven tribes, each with its own language.

Similar to what happened in several other parts of the world, Taiwanese aborigines also suffered severe discrimination. This situation only improved substantially in the 90s when the government launched a six-year Aboriginal culture promotion program that included medical care, legal support and subsidized loans. Also the improvement of roads linking cities with aboriginal settlements and the marking of reserve territories that could no longer be sold to non-indigenous people.

From then on, Taiwan's indigenous culture has not ceased to gain adherents. All crafts and arts in general became fashionable and entered the homes of Taiwanese, Aboriginal music entered the tops of Formosa and its cuisine in the menus of restaurants in large cities. Many aborigines insisted on getting rid of their Chinese names and recovering the tribals. At the same time, newly married Han couples wear Aboriginal costumes during their wedding photo shoots.

However, the new attitude of the Chinese authorities and population towards the oldest inhabitants of the island does not always have the deserved subtlety and genuineness.

Moved by Jack's proximity and frantic advice, we decided to take a peek at a Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.

Erected in an incoherent way, the theme park was designed to bring together a cultural microcosm of ethnic groups recognized by the government, side by side with an inappropriate European castle, a garden and a vast amusement park. It didn't take long to see with the architectural ensemble and that, even though they were colorful and very shaken, the shows staged on a rounded stage in the center of an artificial lake gave the indigenous Formosa an obvious commercial exhibitionism. The locution, only in Mandarin, did little to overcome the problem.

Jack watched the shows for the first time with undisguised delight. We put up with a stoic forty minutes, after which we left the amphitheater to examine the areas that grouped dwellings, traditional ones, totems and other key elements of its culture, with the pity that we are not admiring one of its manifestations in earnest, such as the Festival das Crops or other.

Taroko George

Deep in Taiwan

In 1956, skeptical Taiwanese doubted that the initial 20km of Central Cross-Island Hwy was possible. The marble canyon that challenged it is today the most remarkable natural setting in Formosa.


Formosa but Unsafe

Portuguese navigators could not imagine the imbroglio reserved for the Formosa they baptized. Nearly 500 years later, even though it is uncertain of its future, Taiwan still prospers. Somewhere between independence and integration in greater China.
Huang Shan, China

Huang Shan: The Yellow Mountains of the Floating Peaks

The granitic peaks of the floating yellow mountains of Huang Shan, from which acrobat pines sprout, appear in artistic illustrations from China without count. The real scenery, in addition to being remote, remains hidden above the clouds for over 200 days.
Beijing, China

The Heart of the Great Dragon

It is the incoherent historic center of Maoist-Communist ideology and almost all Chinese aspire to visit it, but Tianamen Square will always be remembered as a macabre epitaph of the nation's aspirations.
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Traditional houses, Bergen, Norway.
Architecture & Design
Bergen, Norway

The Great Hanseatic Port of Norway

Already populated in the early 1830th century, Bergen became the capital, monopolized northern Norwegian commerce and, until XNUMX, remained one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. Today, Oslo leads the nation. Bergen continues to stand out for its architectural, urban and historical exuberance.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
good buddhist advice
Ceremonies and Festivities
Chiang Mai, Thailand

300 Wats of Spiritual and Cultural Energy

Thais call every Buddhist temple wat and their northern capital has them in obvious abundance. Delivered to successive events held between shrines, Chiang Mai is never quite disconnected.
Miami, gateway to Latin America, Florida, United States,
Miami, Florida, USA

The Gateway to Latin America

Not only is the privileged location, between a lush ocean and the green of the Everglades, with the vast Caribbean just to the south. It is tropical, climate and cultural comfort and exemplary urban modernity. Increasingly in Spanish, in a Latin American context.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
Okinawa, Japan

Ryukyu Dances: Centuries old. In No Hurry.

The Ryukyu kingdom prospered until the XNUMXth century as a trading post for the China and Japan. From the cultural aesthetics developed by its courtly aristocracy, several styles of slow dance were counted.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
Entrance porch in Ellikkalla, Uzbekistan

Journey through the Uzbekistan Pseudo-Roads

Centuries passed. Old and run-down Soviet roads ply deserts and oases once traversed by caravans from the Silk RoadSubject to their yoke for a week, we experience every stop and incursion into Uzbek places, into scenic and historic road rewards.
Martian Scenery of the White Desert, Egypt
White Desert, Egypt

The Egyptian Shortcut to Mars

At a time when conquering the solar system's neighbor has become an obsession, an eastern section of the Sahara Desert is home to a vast related landscape. Instead of the estimated 150 to 300 days to reach Mars, we took off from Cairo and, in just over three hours, we took our first steps into the Oasis of Bahariya. All around, almost everything makes us feel about the longed-for Red Planet.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Guardian, Stalin Museum, Gori, Georgia
Upplistsikhe e Gori, Georgia

From the Cradle of Georgia to Stalin's Childhood

In the discovery of the Caucasus, we explore Uplistsikhe, a troglodyte city that preceded Georgia. And just 10km away, in Gori, we find the place of the troubled childhood of Joseb Jughashvili, who would become the most famous and tyrant of Soviet leaders.
Island of Goa, Island of Mozambique, Nampula, lighthouse
Goa island, Ilha de Mozambique, Mozambique

The Island that Illuminates the Island of Mozambique

Located at the entrance to the Mossuril Bay, the small island of Goa is home to a centuries-old lighthouse. Its listed tower signals the first stop of a stunning dhow tour around the old Ilha de Mozambique.

Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Kogi, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia
PN Tayrona, Colombia

Who Protects the Guardians of the World?

The natives of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta believe that their mission is to save the Cosmos from the “Younger Brothers”, which are us. But the real question seems to be, "Who protects them?"
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Namibe, Angola, Cave, Iona Park
Natural Parks
Namibe, Angola

Incursion to the Angolan Namibe

Discovering the south of Angola, we leave Moçâmedes for the interior of the desert province. Over thousands of kilometers over land and sand, the harshness of the scenery only reinforces the astonishment of its vastness.
Acre, Templar Stronghold, Israel, Crispy Sweets
UNESCO World Heritage
Saint John of Acre, Israel

The Fortress That Withstood Everything

It was a frequent target of the Crusades and taken over and over again. Today, Israeli, Acre is shared by Arabs and Jews. He lives much more peaceful and stable times than the ones he went through.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Detail of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Assam, India.
Guwahati, India

The City that Worships Kamakhya and the Fertility

Guwahati is the largest city in the state of Assam and in North East India. It is also one of the fastest growing in the world. For Hindus and devout believers in Tantra, it will be no coincidence that Kamakhya, the mother goddess of creation, is worshiped there.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Police intervention, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
Jaffa, Israel

Unorthodox protests

A building in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, threatened to desecrate what ultra-Orthodox Jews thought were remnants of their ancestors. And even the revelation that they were pagan tombs did not deter them from the contestation.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Maria Jacarés, Pantanal Brazil
Miranda, Brazil

Maria dos Jacarés: the Pantanal shelters such Creatures

Eurides Fátima de Barros was born in the interior of the Miranda region. 38 years ago, he settled in a small business on the side of BR262 that crosses the Pantanal and gained an affinity with the alligators that lived on his doorstep. Disgusted that once upon a time the creatures were being slaughtered there, she began to take care of them. Now known as Maria dos Jacarés, she named each of the animals after a soccer player or coach. It also makes sure they recognize your calls.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.