Formosa but Unsafe

patriot march
Soldiers march in front of the Chiang Kai-shek mausoleum during a flag-raising ceremony in Taipei.
Full Time Colleagues
Store employees during their lunch break.
Sanctuary of the Martyrs
A moment of the complex ceremony of surrender of the guard that takes place daily in the Shrine of the Martyrs of Taipei.
On my way
Resident rides his bicycle, an increasingly rare sight in Taiwan's sophisticated capital.
Taipei-teen generation
Attractively designed advertising at the entrance to a Taipei subway tunnel.
military parade on a rainy day
Soldiers parade during a military procession in Taipei.
Passersby descend to cross an avenue in Taipei, through an underground passage.
pink style
Woman adds some style to a typical Taipei scene, the huge clumps of motorbikes formed at traffic lights.
Essential Retouch
A man adjusts a helmet to a soldier at the Martyrs Shrine in Taipei.
in the shadow of buddha
A group of Buddhist monks crosses a fair held in front of the Chiang Kai-Shek Mausoleum.
Loveteen storefront
Resident passes by a clothing store.
Sanctuary of Martyrs II
A moment of the complex ceremony of surrender of the guard that takes place daily in the Shrine of the Martyrs of Taipei.
Commercial Lighting
Colorful neons light up in an alley in Taipei
Through the Portal
Buddhist monks enter the square around the Chiang kai-shek memorial.
By taxi
Political and other billboards on a busy street in Taipei.
night sun young
Crossroads with intense neon lighting of a hairdresser and other businesses.
Patient Descent
Mother and daughter descend one of the stairs of the Chiang kai-shek Mausoleum.
from near top
From the Panoramic Observatory of Taipei (on top of the 2nd tallest building in Taipei) you have a 360 degree view of the city, including Skyscraper 101 (its current tallest building).
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.

The sunset tints the sky above the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek.

And as it happens, day after day, a small formation of elegant soldiers, in black boots and white uniform, advances through the majestic square, skirting the white building. In absolute synchrony, he approaches a centered post that bears a red, blue and… white flag.

After a few more steps of the choreography, under the curious gaze of half a dozen passersby, the soldiers fold the most important cloth in the Republic of China.

Soldiers complete the flag ceremony of the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan.

This imposing setting is in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. In spite of the solemnity, in no other territory will a ceremony for raising or raising the flag have such a dubious meaning as here.

Taiwan's Insular Prosperity and Sophistication, the Formosa Island

All around, the wealth and sophistication are undisguised. They turned this mountainous and overcrowded island (22.5 million inhabitants on 35,980 km²) into one of the four Asian Tigers, along with South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a GDP per capita, in 2010. Higher than that of Japan and France.

"wait wait i come back” assures the driver who drives us around Taiwan for a fortnight. We see him advance to a doghouse crowned with red neon Chinese characters. There he is served by a young woman in a mini-mini skirt and a low-cut top.

This was just the first of many occasions when he stopped driving to buy the betel nut that he would chew throughout the journey.

Taiwan has these things. They are curious remnants of a traditionalist past in which, blessed by the democratic environment, religion continues to play a role.

The modernization of the capital and other large cities did not cancel out the almost rural existence of the mountainous interior.

night sun young

Crossroads with intense neon lighting of a hairdresser and other businesses.

In Far Eastern fashion, Taipei is both chaotic and organized, gray but seductive. It was inspired by the solutions of Japanese neighbors.

Until she emancipated herself, under the lights of her own futuristic billboards, inspired by the shop windows of luxury multinationals and the ingenious creations of the engineers and programmers she trains.

Loveteen storefront

Resident passes by a clothing store.

Even so, not all natives are ready to put up with the whims of the frenzied metropolis forever. Hundreds of kilometers after we left it, we stopped at a shore of Sun Moon Lake.

The Great Sun Moon Lake Religious and Lake Retreat

In spite of the fog, we find three swimmers fully equipped. We asked to photograph them. Letting go of the conversation, they postpone the next strokes to explain to us the reason for their early-morning activity: “We are friends, all ex-teachers…”, clarifies, in English, Julia Wang, the most extrovert of the trio.

“We worked in Taipei for the years necessary for the reform. Then we took refuge here at Sun Moon. As you can see, we cross it almost every day to keep in shape… “ “When we were younger we even enjoyed Taipei life, but with age we started to think that this was the best place for the homeland to repay our services …"  

The word is often used by the island's inhabitants. In practical terms, Taiwanese do not live in a country.

Nor in a province or dependence on any other nation.

They are part of the Republic of China, a unique case of geopolitical uncertainty in the world which, despite its actuality, was sketched in the distant year of 1949.

The Genesis of the Republic of China, Still in Mainland China

During World War II, still in Greater China, the communist army of Mao Zedong and the nationalist Kuomintang of Chiang Kai-shek joined forces to drive out the Japanese enemy.

military parade on a rainy dayWith the objective guaranteed, they resumed the Civil War, as they had left it, to decide who would be at the head of the country.

Thanks to massive Soviet support, the Communists reversed the initial nationalist ascendancy.

In 1949, they forced General Chiang Kai-shek and his 600.000-man army, plus a million other supporters, to flee to Taiwan, a stronghold 60 km off China's east coast, ruled by the Kuomintang since the expulsion of the Japanese decreed by the Yalta Agreement.

Upon fleeing, Kuomintang troops took with them the constitution and flag of the original Republic of China, founded in 1911 by its first president, Dr. Sun Yatsen, one of the few admired figures in both China and Taiwan.

It was from this ideological transposition of the continent to the island territories that the present-day Republic of China emerged.

By taxi

Political and other billboards on a busy street in Taipei

Despite the abrupt withdrawal, Chiang Kai-shek, the new president of the ROC, was convinced that the KMT's stay in Taiwan would be brief, that once its army was reorganized, it would return to the charge.

At the same time, west of the strait, the communists were preparing to invade Taiwan. None of the plans would come to fruition. The Communist People's Republic of China, like the Republic of China, developed in its own territories. 

Top View Observatory: An Almost Aerial Perspective on the Capital Taipei

From the terrace of the Top View Taipei Observatory, we can admire the urban grandeur of Taipei. From there, the famous 101 (One o' One) stands out. At 509 meters, this was the tallest building in the world from 2004 until the recent construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

"Sugoi!” exclaim several enthusiastic Japanese. Despite the relegation, people from the four corners of the planet and even the ultra-sophisticated Japanese are surprised by the audacity architectural from Taipei's skyscraper and with the defying prosperity of little Formosa.

from near top

From the Panoramic Observatory of Taipei (on top of the 2nd tallest building in Taipei) you have a 360 degree view of the city, including Skyscraper 101 (its current tallest building).

Unlike the island's exemplary economy, Taiwan's political situation has long remained stagnant.

The return of the Kuomintang to power softened the relationship between the two parties and made both the declaration of independence and eventual conflict less likely.

The rapprochement did not imply that Taiwan accepted the One China long pursued by Beijing.

O Dragon however, it surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy.

Accordingly, its military budget reaches record numbers that are beginning to worry the Republic of China like the United States, Taiwan's main military allies.

Protecting the United States That Discourages the People's Republic of China

Barak Obama followed up on the commitment made in the Taiwan Relations Act.

Thus, he renewed the double game of the Americans, who favor official diplomatic interaction with the People's Republic of China but inhibit any intention of annexing Taiwan and the remaining islands of the DRC, towards the desired Greater China.

Taipei-teen generation

Attractively designed advertising at the entrance to a Taipei subway tunnel.

Os USA they frequently renew their sales of military material to the Taiwanese. Each time, they irritate the Chinese government which, as it does almost automatically, releases a new series of controlled warnings and intimidations.

It's nothing that too much affects the busy day-to-day lives of Taiwanese. Since Chiang Kai-shek's arrival in Taiwan, Taiwan has been under threat.

pink style

Woman adds some style to a typical Taipei scene, the huge clumps of motorbikes formed at traffic lights.


Defenders of Their Homelands

Even in times of peace, we detect military personnel everywhere. On duty, in cities, they fulfill routine missions that require rigor and patience.

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.

Nantou, Taiwan

In the Heart of the Other China

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.

Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima: a City Yielded to Peace

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima succumbed to the explosion of the first atomic bomb used in war. 70 years later, the city fights for the memory of the tragedy and for nuclear weapons to be eradicated by 2020.
DMZ, Dora - South Korea

The Line of No Return

A nation and thousands of families were divided by the armistice in the Korean War. Today, as curious tourists visit the DMZ, many of the escapes of the oppressed North Koreans end in tragedy.
Perth, Australia

Australia Day: In Honor of the Foundation, Mourning for Invasion

26/1 is a controversial date in Australia. While British settlers celebrate it with barbecues and lots of beer, Aborigines celebrate the fact that they haven't been completely wiped out.
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.
Ouvéa, New Caledonia

Between Loyalty and Freedom

New Caledonia has always questioned integration into faraway France. On the island of Ouvéa, Loyalty Archipelago, we find an history of resistance but also natives who prefer French-speaking citizenship and privileges.
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.
Annapurna Circuit, Manang to Yak-kharka
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna 10th Circuit: Manang to Yak Kharka, Nepal,

On the way to the Annapurnas Even Higher Lands

After an acclimatization break in the near-urban civilization of Manang (3519 m), we made progress again in the ascent to the zenith of Thorong La (5416 m). On that day, we reached the hamlet of Yak Kharka, at 4018 m, a good starting point for the camps at the base of the great canyon.
Itamaraty Palace Staircase, Brasilia, Utopia, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília: from Utopia to the Capital and Political Arena of Brazil

Since the days of the Marquis of Pombal, there has been talk of transferring the capital to the interior. Today, the chimera city continues to look surreal but dictates the rules of Brazilian development.
Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

Jukka “Era-Susi” Nordman has created one of the largest packs of sled dogs in the world. He became one of Finland's most iconic characters but remains faithful to his nickname: Wilderness Wolf.
Via Crucis de Boac, Festival de Moriones, Marinduque, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Table Mountain view from Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.
Table Mountain, South Africa

At the Adamastor Monster Table

From the earliest times of the Discoveries to the present, Table Mountain has always stood out above the South African immensity South African and the surrounding ocean. The centuries passed and Cape Town expanded at his feet. The capetonians and the visiting outsiders got used to contemplating, ascending and venerating this imposing and mythical plateau.
Obese resident of Tupola Tapaau, a small island in Western Samoa.
Tonga, Western Samoa, Polynesia

XXL Pacific

For centuries, the natives of the Polynesian islands subsisted on land and sea. Until the intrusion of colonial powers and the subsequent introduction of fatty pieces of meat, fast food and sugary drinks have spawned a plague of diabetes and obesity. Today, while much of Tonga's national GDP, Western Samoa and neighbors is wasted on these “western poisons”, fishermen barely manage to sell their fish.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Princess Yasawa Cruise, Maldives

Cruise the Maldives, among Islands and Atolls

Brought from Fiji to sail in the Maldives, Princess Yasawa has adapted well to new seas. As a rule, a day or two of itinerary is enough for the genuineness and delight of life on board to surface.
deep valley, terraced rice, batad, philippines
Batad, Philippines

The Terraces that Sustain the Philippines

Over 2000 years ago, inspired by their rice god, the Ifugao people tore apart the slopes of Luzon. The cereal that the indigenous people grow there still nourishes a significant part of the country.
Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Vesikko submarine, Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, Finland

Finland's once Swedish Fortress

Detached in a small archipelago at the entrance to Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish kingdom's political-military designs. For more than a century, the Russia stopped her. Since 1917, the Suomi people have venerated it as the historic bastion of their thorny independence.
Montserrat island, Plymouth, Soufriere volcano, buried houses
Plymouth, Montserrat

From Ashes to Ashes

Built at the foot of Mount Soufrière Hills, atop magmatic deposits, the solitary city on the Caribbean island of Montserrat has grown doomed. As feared, in 1995, the volcano also entered a long eruptive period. Plymouth is the only capital in a political territory that remains buried and abandoned.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
José Saramago in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Glorieta de Saramago
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
Kayaking on Lake Sinclair, Cradle Mountain - Lake Sinclair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 4 - Devonport to Strahan, Australia

Through the Tasmanian Wild West

If the almost antipode tazzie is already a australian world apart, what about its inhospitable western region. Between Devonport and Strahan, dense forests, elusive rivers and a rugged coastline beaten by an almost Antarctic Indian ocean generate enigma and respect.
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.
Meares glacier
Natural Parks
Prince William Sound, Alaska

Journey through a Glacial Alaska

Nestled against the Chugach Mountains, Prince William Sound is home to some of Alaska's stunning scenery. Neither powerful earthquakes nor a devastating oil spill affected its natural splendor.
Bathers in the middle of the End of the World-Cenote de Cuzamá, Mérida, Mexico
UNESCO World Heritage
Yucatan, Mexico

The End of the End of the World

The announced day passed but the End of the World insisted on not arriving. In Central America, today's Mayans watched and put up with incredulity all the hysteria surrounding their calendar.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Drums and Tattoos
Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Beyond the Cliché

Neighbors Bora Bora and Maupiti have superior scenery but Tahiti has long been known as paradise and there is more life on the largest and most populous island of French Polynesia, its ancient cultural heart.
Mtshketa, Holy City of Georgia, Caucasus, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Mtskheta, Georgia

The Holy City of Georgia

If Tbilisi is the contemporary capital, Mtskheta was the city that made Christianity official in the kingdom of Iberia, predecessor of Georgia, and one that spread the religion throughout the Caucasus. Those who visit see how, after almost two millennia, it is Christianity that governs life there.
Train Kuranda train, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
On Rails
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Coin return
Daily life
Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

We descended from the high and mountainous lands of Meghalaya to the flats to the south and below. There, the translucent and green stream of the Dawki forms the border between India and Bangladesh. In a damp heat that we haven't felt for a long time, the river also attracts hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis in a picturesque escape.
Newborn turtle, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

A Night at the Nursery of Tortuguero

The name of the Tortuguero region has an obvious and ancient reason. Turtles from the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea have long flocked to the black sand beaches of its narrow coastline to spawn. On one of the nights we spent in Tortuguero we watched their frenzied births.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.