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Entries tagged with “Natur”.

Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above is not just about pretty aerial pictures

The genius of Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above, the aerial documentary currently breaking records at the Taiwanese box office, is that it deliberately misleads its audience. Even more than a celebration of nature’s beauties, it is a deeply disquieting wake-up call, urging Taiwanese to develop their enviromental consciousness.

Judging from the movie’s marketing campaign, one would hardly guess that Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (看見台灣, Seeing Taiwan) will take you to some really dark places and ask discomforting questions. In the official trailer, it’s mostly gorgeous images and majestic music.

In fact, during the film’s first ten minutes or so, I felt like in a Wagnerian big screen opera, flying with the Valkyries to the highest mountain peaks and beyond. It’s pretty awe-inspiring.

Then, slowly, humans start appearing. At first, they are as insignificant and tiny as ants. Next, we see them taming nature and living off the land: Farmers, fishermen. Finally, the film moves into the cities, and it is here that it quickly becomes obvious that Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above will not shy away from pointing out the culprits who are busily destroying Taiwan’s natural equilibrium.

It’s us.

More photos on the official movie Facebook page

After watching, you will probably never again look the same way at Taiwan’s…

  • Betelnut, tea and cabbage plantations in the high mountains (lead to more landslides)
  • Cross-island highways and mountain dwellings, like Taiwan’s „Little Switzerland“ (precipitously situated and in constant danger)
  • Fish farms (suck up ground water, cause land subsidence)
  • Concrete tetrapods (more than 50% of Taiwan’s coastline is covered with concrete)
  • IT industry (uses 16% of all energy, produces toxic waste)
  • Cement, sand and gravel industry (needlessly disfiguring mountains for profit’s sake)
  • Wastewater (often flowing untreated into the rivers and out to sea)
  • Coal power (the Taichung power plant is the world’s single largest CO2 emitter)

…and many other things that are usually hailed as signs of „development“, and thus as good by definition.

Seeing is believing

Although most viewers will be surprised at what they learn, Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above does not really tell anything new. All the facts have been well known for a long time to enviromentalists, affected citizens, probably even to some reporters and government officials.

But never before has anyone argued the case so spectacularly. Telling and warning is not enough. Director Chi Po-lin has gathered the visual evidence that is neccessary to make people see the problems and their magnitude.

Because we aren’t worried about what we don’t know, and we don’t know what we don’t see.

For example, Chi’s aerial images of black streams of wastewater, spilling from a Taoyuan river into the pristine ocean and forming a bizarre kind of Yin-Yang-pattern, will imprint themselves on every viewer’s mind. No lecture, article or protest march could ever achieve this.

Welcome to the real world

For me, Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above touched on another aspect that I find really worrying.

It seems to me that many people in Taiwan (like in other parts of the world, but we are talking about Taiwan here) are spending their lives in an almost completely artificial and de-naturalized environment, going to great lengths to keep nature as far away as possible.

„Development“ in Taipei, nature vs. concrete:

I am thinking about windows that don’t let in sunlight, A/C systems that replace a breeze of fresh air, concrete in parks where there could be lawn.

It’s a world where plastic bags, disposable chopsticks and lunch boxes appear out of nowhere and vanish without a trace.

In some ways, Taiwan’s ubiquitous 7-11 stores are the perfect embodyment of this mentality. Always clean, always bright, full of convenient, plastic-wrapped stuff, cute, commercialized and standardized.

7/11 Laden

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate 7-11 as much as the next guy. I just would not want to spend my life living in one.

Nature, to many people, primarily seems to be something that sullies their concrete environment and has to be gotten rid of with plastic brooms.

Besen Taiwan

I think this is sad and deeply worrying.

Chi Po-lin (it’s his actual name and translates as „zeppelin“) probably sees something similar when he observes that, with more than 50% of Taiwan’s coastline disfigured by slabs of concrete, „we have built a wall to seperate us from the sea.“ Which is not so ideal for an island nation. „The ocean is the road through which we can reach out to the world.“

Amongst many other things, Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above also serves to remind the audience that, hard as we try to keep nature out, modern life still depends on nature’s life support systems. If we continue to treat her badly, „like too many children sucking on their mother’s breast,“ the Earth will not only fail to render her essential services. She will also strike back as she whinces in agony.

Just think about the increasing number and strenght of typhoons and rainfall, ever more devastating mudslides, rising sea levels, coastal land being submerged because of subsidence, diseases spreading in monocultures.

And then, says Chi, we tend to blame nature for the very problems that we have caused ourselves.

Now what?

While Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above does an excellent job raising awareness, I found it to be a bit lacking in pointing out alternatives, showing possible ways out of our dilemma.

Late in the film (like The Return of the King, it has too many endings and goes on long after you think everyting has been said), Chi introduces two organic farmers who found the way back to traditional methods of production.

While I like their approach, I do not think they can serve as a model for most Taiwanese who are, after all, mostly busy in offices, struggling and making ends meet for their family’s well-being.

At least, one of the farmers makes the perhaps most poignant statement of the film:



„We actually don’t need all that much. The problem is that we want too much.“

Make a real difference

I don’t consider myself a great example, and I am not suggesting that I am leading my life in a better way then anyone else.

That said, what can one do, once the consciousness has been rattled awake?

These are some things that are routinely suggested:

  • Carry reusable chopsticks
  • Turn off the engine at red traffic lights
  • Reject paper cups and plastic bags
  • Use toilet paper from both sides (no, enough of that)

The thing with little well-meaning steps like these is that, even if you follow through, you will not actually make a difference. You will not be able to offset the damage that others are causing at the same time.

I think that the only way to actually make a difference is by reaching out to other people. Just like Chi Po-lin dedicated his life to making this movie instead of sitting at home and just feeling miserable.

They did it: Protests made the government cancel the Kuokuang naptha cracker plans in Changhua County.


  • Tell people that you plan to go to a demonstration, and ask them to join you
  • Tell that idiot walking in front of you to stuff his garbage anywhere, but stop littering
  • Ask others why they don’t carry reusable chopsticks
  • Tell others that next time, you plan to vote for a politician who actually cares about the really serious problems
  • Write letters and post comments about what you don’t like instead of just clicking „like“ where everybody thinks like you anyway

Do whatever you can, just don’t shut up and don’t give up.

Think of Chi Po-lin, who gave up his safe government job and pension in order to make this film. It’s not perfect, and not everyone will like it, but who cares. He is even giving special screenings for the Premier now. While you are reading this, he is making a hell of a difference.

Beyond Beauty Taiwan

About me

I am a German reporter living and working in Taiwan. Read more English posts on this otherwise mostly German blog. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

English posts you might want to have a look at:

Taiwan east coast in four days: Suggestions for itinerary, rental car, accomodation

Explore Taiwan! East coast including Taroko Gorge and the East Rift Valley in four days, starting from Taipei. How to get there, where to find an English-speaking rental car agency, where to stay.

Taiwan East Coast Trip

The blue Pacific, rugged coastlines, lush valleys, mud volcanoes, hot springs, artists‘ colonies and even live ostriches – for less than US$200 per person! It’s possible at Taiwan’s east coast.

Four of us recently set out to finally see the east coast of Taiwan. This is where we went, how we worked out transportation and accomodation, and what it cost us. It may not be the perfect itinerary for everybdy, but it worked out pretty well for us.

(Because a lot of places have more than one romanized spelling (Taitung vs. Taidong), I’ve included several versions in the text for all you Google aficinados out there.)

Planning the Taiwan east coast trip

With four people, some of them neither in possession of a driver’s license nor the will to do some serious biking, we settled on renting a car right away. However, we did not want to spend a lot of time and nerves driving from Taipei to Hualien (and probably back as well) via the Suhua highway, notorious for its winding road, steep cliffs and crazy gravel truck drivers.

So we figured out that it might be a good idea to:

  • take a train from Taipei all the way down to Taitung
  • rent a car there
  • leisurely drive up the Taiwan east coast to Hualien
  • return the car there and go back to Taipei by train again

Spoiler alert: It worked out. This was our route (click to enlarge):

Taiwan East Coast Trip Map

We figured that if we spend four days (three nights) for the whole trip, we would not have to rush too much. Setting off on a Wednesday and returning to Taipei on Saturday, we avoided the weekend tourist crowds.

Taiwan East Coast Pacific

Buying train tickets

Travelling by train in Taiwan is cheap, convenient and reliable. That goes for the standard TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration) trains as well as for the High Speed Rail. Just be sure to book your TRA tickets for the Taiwan east coast as early as possible, because there’s a lot of demand by locals as well as tourists (remember that inconvenient Suhua Highway?).

You can order two weeks in advance via the TRA website and pick them up the next day at any train station or convenience store, paying at the counter. Don’t wait until the day after tomorrow, or your reservation will be cancelled. If you immediately pay by credit card while on the website, you don’t have to worry about this and can pick up the tickets at the train station until 30 minutes before departure.

We booked these connections:

  • Wednesday: 8:00 a.m. Taipei, 12:40 p.m. Taitung, NT$742 p.P.
  • Saturday: 4:40 p.m. Hualien, 7:16 p.m. Taipei, NT$418 p.P.

Renting a car in Taiwan

Most international car rental agencies do not have a presence in Taiwan. The one exception seems to be Avis, but they were not up and running by the time of our trip.

There are a few local companies willing to rent to foreigners (who tend to only have funny international driver’s licenses, and who knows if those can be trusted), and (in case no one in your group speaks Chinese) offer English service.

Taiwanese rental car agencies: Easyrent, Car Plus, Formosa Car Rentals

For our trip, we specifically needed a company with agencies in both Taitung and Hualien that offers one-way rental. We found just such a company with Easyrent.

Another comparable company is Car Plus.

And in the comments, an employee mentioned Formosa Car Rentals.

We rented this Toyota Yaris for NT$5775 Wed-Sat, including insurance:

Rental Car Taiwan

We had to fill up the tank once during the trip, which set us back NT$1240.

Day 1: Taipei – Taitung (Taidong) – Dulan

After arriving in Taitung, we picked up our car at the rental agency right next to the station and set out north on the Highway No. 11, which is going directly along the Pacific coast all the way to Hualien.

Seafood in Fugang (富岡)

Shortly after leaving Hualien, we stopped for some terrific seafood at a the 美娥 (Mei-e) restaurant in the fishing village of Fugang, just on the right side of the highway. Think NTD 250 p.P. if you really indulge yourself with the finest sashimi, shrimps etc. Full and happy, we checked out the picturesque fishing boats in Fugang’s harbor.

Xiao Yehliu (小野柳)

Next stop was the scenic area of Xiaoyeliu (Little Yehliu), which like its bigger brother on the north coast features some of the weirdest rock formations you will ever come across, as well as beautifully rugged coastline. Explore away!

Xiaoyeliu Taiwan

Entry is free except for a parking fee of NT$40.

Water Running Uphill (水往上流)

Next stop was Water Running Upward, a nicely landscaped little park on a hillside with a ditch where the water is actually going uphill. You’ll have to walk all the way up until you can figure out how it works. There is no electric pump involved.

Another visitor took this video:

Entrance is free. This place is very popular with Chinese tour busses, so it’s probably best to arrive in the late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Dulan (都蘭)

We spent the evening in Dulan, a town with a strongly Aboriginal vibe to it that has over the last few years involved into an artists colony and a place to listen to live music. The center of the action is the former sugar factory that has been turned into a cultural center. Since it was not Saturday, there was no concert and we just had some street food.

Dulan Sugar Factory

B&B: Wind Guesthouse (風格民宿)

We spent the night at the Wind guesthouse, a really special place. To get there, you’ll have to return to Water Running Upward and head into the hills.

The cottages at Wind are designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, but also stylish in a down-to-earth kind of way. There is no air condition; cooling is provided by a gentle breeze. The double-layer roof prevent the buildings from heating up too much.

Wind Guesthouse Taitung Taiwan

There is abundant plant life all around the cottages. At night, you have to find your way around outside with the help of flashlights that luckily are attached to the keychains. Staying here really makes you feel that you are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but nature.

Taipei Times report about Dulan and the Wind hostel

We spent NT$4000 to rent two cottages, but the four of us could also have easily fit into just one (NT$2000). One sleeping area is probably big enough for up to six people.

Day 2: Dulan – East Rift Valley (花東縱谷)

We started the day by checking out the Dulan Sugar Factory (都蘭糖廠) with its interesting mixture of decaying industrial remnants, Aboriginal art and little designer shops. There’s also a cafe where you might get breakfast.

Dulan Sugar Factory Taiwan 2

Continuing north on Highway 11, we felt like going down to the beach and wet our toes in the waters of the Pacific. Shortly after Duli (都歷), we found a path that crossed some rice paddies and led to a wonderfully deserted black pebble beach that we had all for ourselves.

Pacific Coast Taiwan Beach

Sanxiantai (三仙台)

Next stop was Sansiantai, the Terrace of the Three Immortals. With its picturesque arched bridges, this is definitely a prime photo location.

Sanxiantai Sanhsiantai Taiwan

A little further north, we left the coastal Highway 11 and took Road No. 30, heading westward into the mountains. Our destination was the East Rift Valley on the other side of this mountain range that separates Taiwan’s east coast into two distinct areas.

So when we arrived in Taiwan’s lush East Rift Valley…

Do you want to know more?

Click here to read the complete guide to the perfect Taiwan east coast trip.

There are two and a half days left for you to explore!

You will learn about…

  • The lake that’s more beautiful than Sun Moon Lake
  • A farm with delicious fresh milk… and live ostriches
  • An old Japanese lumberjack village hidden deep in the mountains
  • Taiwan’s mud volcanoes
  • An inexpensive hostel right really close to the entrance to Taroko Gorge (perfect for that early morning start)
  • The final travel budget (amazing how little you need to pay for a trip like this!)
  • …and much more.

Download my complete East Coast Travel Guide now!

I hope you’ll enjoy your trip as much as we did.

Taiwan is waiting!

A company organizing outdoor trips for English-speaking tourists in Taiwan

Taiwan’s real beauty is not be be found in the cities, but in the great outdoors and preferably off the beaten track. But many tourists wonder: How to get to those places, how to prepare and how to avoid getting lost?

Album: German TV Returns to Taiwan

Hualien Outdoors is a company specializing in trips and activities including hiking in Taroko Gorge and river rafting. On their website, you find this statement:

We don’t take people into the outdoors because we have to, we all have day jobs. We do it because we enjoy sharing Hualien with our guests. The feeling of sharing this place with someone is wonderful, and addicting.


The guys at Hualien Outdoors also post videos of these trips on their Youtube channel.

I interviewed Matt Hopkins, one of the company’s founders.

Matt Hualien Outdoors

Some time ago, I was busy preparing stuff for a German TV team coming over from Tokyo. We wanted to film some amazing Taiwan mountain scenery, and a friend put me in touch with Matt, as he was „the guy in the know.“

I contacted Matt, and he gave me some extremely useful advice on two places we ended up visiting:

  • Jhuilu (Zhuilu) Old Trail (錐麓古道), the showpiece of Taroko Gorge: A path less than a meter wide with a 500m vertical drop on one side.
  • Little Chi Lai (Qilai) Trail (小奇萊步道) at Mt. Hehuan (合歡山): A wonderful, easy trail that gives a good idea of the high alpine forest and views of Taiwan.

We talked about Matt coming along for the filming, but did not find a suitable time. So, in order to learn more about the idea behind Hualien Outdoors, I asked Matt some questions by e-mail.

Album: German TV Returns to Taiwan

Customized trips and two-day packages

What makes your services special?

„We are the only western style out tripping business on the East Coast of Taiwan, which is amazing considering the vast beauty of this area. We offer small, customized trips to places away from the hordes of tourists in tour buses that have descended on the Hualien and Taroko Gorge areas in recent years.

„We take guests to rivers where the water is safe enough to drink, temples hidden in the mountains and other off-the-beaten-path areas that other companies either don’t go to, or don’t know about. Trips are small and flexible, food is locally sourced and of the highest quality and trips are not based on a menu of ‚famous‘ places. Each group gets a different trip based on their preferences and expectations of a trip outdoors. We do trips for everyone from families with infants to world traveling adrenaline junkies and everyone in between.“

Why did you feel you were the right person to start this company?

„Having lived in Hualien exploring the mountains and rivers of the area for the past seven years, I found myself in the right place at the right time. I have run a bilingual outdoor school for local children for the past three years, and this business has evolved from that. So many friends were asking to go out into the mountains with us and the kids, I decided to expand the business from a school to an out tripping company in 2011. So far the experiment is going well! There is a small but very experienced group of people that help out part-time taking guests into the rivers and mountains of Hualien.“

Wilderness experiences in Taiwan

Who should get in touch with you, and who should not?

„Hualien Outdoors might not be the best choice for those people who want a simple trip to the most famous places in Taroko that can be easily reached from the road and do not need permits. There are many cheaper options for those types of trips: taxi, bus, tour bus etc. Those looking for a more unique, personalized and off-the-beaten-path wilderness experience, with a little more physical challenge, would most enjoy our trips. Especially if they love water sports. River tracing is a sport like no other!“

What were some weird or moving things that happened during your trips?

„Once, on a trip up to Zhuilu Old Trail, I had a guest who kept asking questions about the cliff walk. How long, how wide, how high up, things like that. Once we got to the cliff face itself he stopped, lifted up his shirt, and revealed a home-made harness. He proceeded to ‚clip into‘ the safety rope and do the cliff walk attached to the cliff face by a piece of webbing.

„General speaking though, most people know what they are getting into when they come on a trip us. They do their research. Even so, most river tracing trips there is usually someone who relaxes on a rock and says ‚this is the most beautiful place I have ever been‘. That is a great feeling to take people to places like that. Sharing this place with people can be very addictive.“

River tracing on Taiwan’s east coast

Are there places in Taiwan that you would you really like to take tourists to, but have not yet been able to?

„Taiwan has a distinct lack of western style tourist infrastructure in the mountains. In Taroko Gorge, for example, there are lots of places in the lower stretches for tour buses to disgorge their passengers, and a precious few trails that are great but need permits. Then there are some great trails in Hehuan Mountain at the top of the National Park, above 3000m. There is almost nothing in between. I would love to be about to take guests on hikes through the 1500-2500m valleys that cut through the park, but there is no infrastructure to do it at all.

„River tracing is a different story, thankfully, as there are dozens of drainage systems and rivers within an hours drive of Hualien. It really is a paradise for river tracers.“

How will things develop?

„Due to various reasons, the largest being no one knows how beautiful this area is, Hualien’s wilderness has remained relatively pristine and undeveloped. With the recent push by the Taiwanese government to increase the international profile of tourism in Taiwan, many westerners are coming to Taiwan but not finding many options for western style trips. We are trying to fill that gap.“

The company’s website: Hualien Outdoors

Dear readers: What are your favourite places off the beaten track in Taiwan?

I am a German reporter living and working in Taiwan. Read more English posts on this mostly German blog. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, or Google Plus.

English posts you might want to have a look at:

More about my Taiwan book

Ein Spielcasino auf Matsu?

Gerade mache ich mir Gedanken, auf welche der Inseln, die zu Taiwan gehören ich als nächstes fahren sollte. Matsu, Kinmen, Xiaoliuqiu und Lüdao (Green Island) habe ich gesehen. Penghu und Lanyu (Orchid Island) stehen noch aus.

Eigentlich wäre Penghu an der Reihe. Aber ich glaube, ich werde noch einmal nach Matsu zurückkehren, wo ich letzten November ein paar Tage auf Nangan und Beigan verbracht habe. Denn (wie hier schon mal berichtet) Matsus Ruhe und Schönheit könnten bald Vergangenheit sein: Im Juli haben die Einwohner der Inselgruppe sich mehrheitlich dafür entschieden, dass Investoren ihnen ein riesiges Spielkasino in die unverbaute Natur k(l)otzen. Mit Hotels, Straßen, einem neuen Flughafen und allem, was sich aus Beton so machen lässt.

Sollte das Projekt nun tatsächlich realisiert werden, wären die Folgen verheerend.

There are few buildings on the island now. But its green hills could be dotted with high-rise hotels soon. Weidner expects 4.5m Chinese tourist-gamblers a year. Many could easily take the half-hour ferry ride over. An influx of Chinese gamblers could dramatically change Matsu’s calm atmosphere. But promises of convenience and prosperity have won over the local residents.

(Quelle: BBC)

Gemäß Taiwans Innenminister Lee Hung-yuan müssen vor dem Bau eines Casinos mehrere Probleme gelöst werden. Derzeit fehle es zum Beispiel an genügend Wasser; die momentane Wasserversorgung reiche für die derzeitige Bevölkerung und sei nicht für ein Casino-Resort konzipiert, so die China Times. Außerdem hätten weder die betroffene Lokalregierung, die Polizeibehörden noch sein Ministerium Erfahrungen mit Casinos.

(Quelle: Asienspiegel)

Aus dem Album Matsu: Abandoned military installations and bunkers

Dann ist da noch die nicht ganz unberechtigte Furcht vor Kriminalität. In Spieler-Hochburgen wie Macau weiß man Bescheid:

„Wo Casinos sind, da ist immer auch Kriminalität“, erklärte ein Sprecher der Behörden der Agentur Bloomberg in einem Telefoninterview. (…) Den Festgenommenen wird u. A. Geldwäsche, Betrieb illegaler Etablissements, Mord, Mordversuch und weitere Verbrechen vorgeworfen, die häufig von den Triaden begangen werden.

Aus dem Album Weird and interesting places on Matsu

Vielleicht bleibt Matsu aber auch verschont. Das wäre aber nicht unbedingt ein Grund zum Feiern, denn das würde wahrscheinlich bedeuten: Einwohner anderer Inselgruppen, wo sich leichter Geld verdienen lässt, haben sich auch blenden lassen. Dann ziehen die Geier einfach weiter.

Other casino giants hope the Matsu initiative increases pro-gambling sentiment in the Taiwan Strait archipelago of Penghu or in Kinmen, a group of Taiwan-controlled islands just off the swanky mainland city of Xiamen. Kinmen and Penghu have better infrastructure than Matsu, including bigger airports, meaning less investment and easier returns for any casino operators. Penghu voters turned down a casino initiative in 2009, due to fears that criminals would be drawn to the new resorts. The archipelago’s voters can try for a new referendum as early as September this year. (…) One of the first to strike in Taiwan may be the lesser known British firm Claremont Partners. The firm was formed via a management buyout of AMZ Holdings, which had initially bought land in Penghu ahead of the failed 2009 referendum. The company’s management „remains optimistic“ that the next Penghu referendum will pass as it prepares for an IPO in August, a Taipei-based shareholder in the firm said.

(Quelle: Knowledge Wharton)

Vielleicht sollte ich also doch lieber mal schnell nach Penghu fahren? Oder die Hoffnung darauf, dass der gesunde Menschenverstand sich am Ende gegen die Gier durchsetzt, doch nicht aufgeben? Keine leichte Entscheidung.

Ergänzung: Etwa so soll die Anlage aussehen

Wie deutsche Blogger Taiwan sehen

Ist Taiwans Erziehungssystem tauglich für die eigenen Kinder, wo ist die U-Bahn am schönsten, und wo finden sich Oasen in der Stadt? Um solche Themen ging es in den vergangenen Wochen in den deutschsprachigen Taiwan-Blogs.

Wie es sich aufwächst

Ludigels kleiner Sohn hat sein erstes Wort gesagt: Nicht „Mama“ oder „Papa“, sondern den Namen einer Firma, der im Werbespot immer so schön gesungen wird. Kinder in Taiwan brauchen gar kein eigenes iPad, wie man es zuletzt so häufig sieht. Die audiovisuelle Reizüberflutung kann auch auf bewährte Art aus dem Fernsehen kommen.

Bei Frau und Schwiegermutter ist es nicht raus zu kriegen, das der riesige Flachbildfernseher den ganzen verdammten Tag läuft und Junior immer in Richtung TV gedreht wird. Wenn man dann mit ihm spielen will, muss man mit einer Horde Taiwaner konkurrieren, die gerade dabei sind an einer kreischenden Minirock-Xiaojie irgendwelche Schubsereien vorzunehmen, oder sie mit dem Taxi oder Blue-Truck zu überfahren. Super.


Kinder Orchester Taiwan

In einer ähnlichen Situation ist Dennis, der auch vor kurzem Vater geworden ist. Er macht sich grundlegende Gedanken darüber, ob Taiwan aus deutscher Sicht der optimale Ort ist, eine Tochter großzuziehen.

Was mich angeht, so kann ich mir beim besten Willen nicht vorstellen, meine Tochter in Taiwan zur Schule gehen zu lassen, den ganzen Tag zu lernen, den Druck des taiwanischen Bildungssystems auszusetzen und für dieses System auch noch Geld zu bezahlen!! Ich denke, die Bildungsfrage könnte ein Grund sein, wieder nach Deutschland zurückzukehren. Das deutsche Bildungssystem zählt natürlich auch nicht zu den besten der Welt, aber in Deutschland können Kinder neben dem Lernen auch noch ihre Kindheit genießen.


Was bewegt

Für Radio Taiwan International wirft Reporter Frank Pevec einen Blick auf die schönen Seiten der U-Bahnen in Taipeh und Kaohsiung und entdeckt Kleinkunst an unerwarteten Orten.

Taipei Rolltreppe U-Bahn

Wie sich Stadt erlebt

Ludigel berichtet, wie er und sein Auto einen heftigen Taifun wohlbehalten überstanden haben, von einem unerwartet ansehlichen Stadtviertel in Neihu, und von kleinen Fluchten aus der Betonwüste in die grünen Hügel rund um Taipeh.

Taiwan Wanderweg Wald

Vor einem Jahr…

…habe auch ich mir Gedanken über unschöne Fassaden gemacht, und über das Leben dahinter: Wie Taiwaner wohnen

Vor zwei Jahren…

…habe ich hier über Deutsche in Taiwan geschrieben, und was Taiwaner über sie denken: Und täglich grüßt die Schweinshaxe

Vor drei Jahren…

…hatte Taifun Morakot für Verwüstungen gesorgt und Taiwan in die deutsche Tagesschau gebracht. Der Grund waren weniger die Opferzahlen, sondern der spektakuläre Sturz eines Hotels in die Fluten. Außerdem hatte Kollege Dennis Gastmann für eine Folge seiner NDR-Reihe „Mit 80.000 Fragen um die Welt“ in Taiwan gedreht.

Vor vier Jahren…

…wurde ich gegen Ende meines ersten Taiwan-Aufenthalts von Deutsch-Studenten der Soochow-Universität fürs Campusradio interviewt.

Ich empfehle auch einen regelmäßigen Blick ins deutsche Forum von Deutschland.tw bzw. Forumosa.com. Weitere deutschsprachige Taiwan-Informationsquellen nenne ich hier. Und Hinweise auf alles, was ich übersehen habe, sind immer willkommen.

Das Geld hat gesprochen, der Beton kann fließen. Eine Volksabstimmung auf der von Taiwan verwalteten Inselgruppe Matsu hat kürzlich ergeben: Demnächst könnten hier gigantische Spielcasinos und Hotelkomplexe entstehen. Nur etwa 40% Wahlbeteiligung mögen nicht gerade aussagekräftig sein, aber so ist nun mal das Ergebnis. Ganz gut zusammengefasst ist das Thema hier im Asienspiegel.

Aus dem Album Typical architecture on Matsu

Bevor die schöne Natur verschandelt wird, war ich zum Glück vor einiger Zeit noch rechtzeitig auf Matsu, genauer gesagt auf den Hauptinseln Nangan und Beigan. Einst verlief hier eine der heißesten Frontlinien im Kalten Krieg. Keine zwanzig Kilometer sind es von Matsu zur chinesischen Küste, aber verwaltet wird die Inselgruppe von Taiwan, das mehr als 150 Kilometer südöstlich liegt. Nur eine Stunde dauert der Flug von Taipeh.

Aus dem Album Taiwanese Soldiers on Matsu

Schon am Flughafen fällt mir auf, wie viele Soldaten hier unterwegs sind. Seit die nationalchinesischen Truppen bei ihrer Flucht vom Festland 1949 die Inseln als Brückenkopf gehalten hatten, ist das Militär auf Matsu allgegenwärtig. Die jungen Männer in Flecktarn sind zum größten Teil Wehrdienstleistende, die bestimmt lieber irgendwo auf Taiwan stationiert wären, wo es in der Freizeit mehr Unterhaltung gibt als nur eine Handvoll Internetcafés und Karaoke-Bars. Die 7/11-Minimärkte in den Dörfern sind ihre Treffpunkte.

Aus dem Album Taiwanese Soldiers on Matsu

Wenigstens müssen sie sich keine Sorgen über feindlichen Artilleriebeschuss machen. Derzeit versucht China, Taiwan mit wirtschaftlichen Mitteln für sich zu gewinnen, und die Kanonen schweigen. Doch das war nicht immer so. Bis in die neunziger Jahre kochte der Konflikt immer wieder hoch, und Matsu war bis an die Zähne bewaffnet. Das halbe Dutzend Inseln ist zusammen nicht mal so groß wie Borkum, aber überall finden sich Kasernen und Geschützstellungen.

Aus dem Album Matsu: Abandoned military installations and bunkers

Die Granitfelsen sind mit hunderten Tunneln und Bunkern durchzogen wie ein Schweizer Käse. Die Soldaten, die damals darin für den Ernstfall gedrillt wurden, mussten bis zu drei Jahre dienen, und Heimaturlaub gab es nur ganz selten.

Aus dem Album Matsu: Abandoned military installations and bunkers

Inzwischen hat das Militär viele Stellungen geräumt, und einige davon kann man besichtigen. Die „eiserne Festung“ etwa, ein ausgehöhltes, von Wellen umtostes Riff, in dem eine Elite-Einheit von Froschmännern in ständiger Alarmbereitschaft stationiert war. Oder den „Nordsee-Tunnel“, in dem 120 Landungsboote vor Bombardierung geschützt ankern konnten. Mehr als 700 Meter lang und 10 Meter breit, wurde er über drei Jahre mit Presslufthämmern in den Granit geschlagen. Dutzende Männer kamen dabei ums Leben. Keine 30 Jahre später wurde der Tunnel für überflüssig erklärt. An die Soldaten erinnert ein Denkmal.

Aus dem Album Matsu: Abandoned military installations and bunkers

Auf einem Bergplateau stehen ausrangierte Panzer und Flugabwehrgeschütze. Früher war hier Sperrgebiet.

Aus dem Album Matsu: Abandoned military installations and bunkers

Die Aussicht ist beeindruckend: Meer, Klippen, Wind und Wellen. Und hinten am Horizont das chinesische Festland. Es sind schöne Inseln, deren zerklüftete Küsten manchmal ans Mittelmeer erinnern. Nur, dass dort keine bunten Tempel die Landschaft zieren.

Aus dem Album Weird and interesting places on Matsu

Hoffentlich bleiben sie künftig vom Geschützdonner verschont. Und von Spielcasinos.

Aus dem Album Weird and interesting places on Matsu

Eine Folge aus meiner Taiwan-Kolumne im heimatlichen Anzeigenblatt.

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