Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer
A Summertime Festival Celebrating Taiwan’s Distinctive Regional Characters
By Rick Charette
The Tropic of Cancer runs right through Taiwan, cutting across the central-south of the main island and through the Penghu Islands archipelago, which floats in the Taiwan Strait to the west of Taiwan proper. What this means is that this is a land of continual pleasing warmth, a fact of significance for tourists from lands of cooler climes, and the Tourism Bureau is inviting travelers to come get to know Taiwan on a personal basis with the first-ever Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer summerfest campaign this year.
The festival, which was formally launched with its first activity on June 1 and will finally draw to a close long after summer at the end of October, makes the line itself a tourist attraction. The tropic crosses through Hualien County, Nantou County, Chiayi County and City, Yunlin County, and Penghu County, along the way traversing attractive coastal areas, flatlands, hills, high mountains, a rift valley, and small, pretty islands.
A long, well-rounded series of special events is showcasing the unique features and strengths of each locality – the distinctive scenery, foods, handicrafts, products, and leisure/recreation activities. Many of the local summertime “Tropic of Cancer” specialty foods being showcased were chosen in an online public vote held in May. Among the favorite regional delicacies nominated are smoked flying fish, cactus ice cream, mango ice, cold noodles, aiyu jelly, herbal jelly, dairy products of the town of Ruisui, watermelon, sour plum soup, and carambola juice. These are available for you to try at all the major festival events.
Among the highly varied array of activities, which already took place this year, a highlight was the “Thousand People Link-Up” staged on June 21, the day of the summer solstice, with 1,000 people lining up and holding hands to symbolize the Tropic of Cancer. This took place at Dongshi Harbor in Chiayi County, in Taiwan’s southwest.
Another highlight event, showcasing the incredible beauty of Taiwan’s pristine, rugged east coast, was the “2013 Xiuguluan River Rafting Triathlon” staged on June 23, the official “Rafting Season Launch.” The event featured road running, cycling and, instead of the usual swimming section, whitewater rafting. This river, an extremely popular location for rafting, has a course that runs from the bucolic East Rift Valley through the soaring Coastal Mountain Range. The river spills abruptly into the bright-blue Pacific where the mountains just as abruptly spill into it. Make your way to the town of Ruisui during rafting season to enjoy the tremendous natural setting, participate in the many peripheral activities, and get in some thrilling rafting yourself. For more on this, read this issue’s accompanying article on rafting and the Xiuguluan.
Other festival draws include DIY on-the-sea canoeing and windsurfing experience activities in Penghu until August 31, triathlons on both August 31 and September 1, and a beach carnival from August 3 through October 30 with Mid-Autumn Festival activities, eco-friendly sand-sculpture contests, concerts, fireworks shows, old-time Penghu fishermen net-trawling experiences, and sampan-rowing experiences. There is butterfly watching, eco-appreciation, games playing, DIY activities, and live performances in the Guanziling hot-spring resort area (in Siraya National Scenic Area) until August 25, and in the evening of August 3 there are unusual God of Fire ceremonies; the Guanziling God of Fire is Japanese, not Chinese, for it was the Japanese who opened up the hot-spring area in the early 1900s, and local businesses continue the tradition of asking the god to keep the fires burning below and the hot-spring waters flowing above.
There will be a bicycle challenge in bike-friendly Alishan National Scenic Area on September 29 and in the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, Hualien Soaring Season activities will run until September 1, featuring tethered rides in hot-air balloons, light aircraft, paragliding, hang gliding, and mini-theme-park electric trains.
You can get full details on the entire range of activities going on in the different regions, all the local summertime specialty foods chosen in the aforementioned online poll, and on other related subjects by visiting the official website: www.taiwan235n.tw (at time of writing Chinese only). Note that the Tourism Bureau has worked with the local authorities in each area to design recommended tour itineraries taking in major tourist attractions in each area, as well as exclusive travel packages.
English and Chinese
Dongshi Harbor 東石港
Hualien Soaring Season 花蓮翱翔季活動
Rafting Season Launch 泛舟季起跑
Thousand People Link-Up 千人牽手活動
2103 Xiuguluan River Rafting Triathlon 2013 秀姑巒溪泛舟鐵人三項