Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Second Asian Bird Fair, Tainan

The Second Asian Bird Fair, to be held in Tainan, is only a few days away (October 15-17).  I went (on scooter) in search of info on what will be going on.

This event is (rightfully) aimed mostly at Taiwanese visitors, thus the 'bilingual' official website here follows the Taiwanese highly-animated style. In other words not not to say.

The related Asian Bird Fair’s group website is here.

Saturday & Sunday

  • Various activities for adults and children at the recreational docks in Anping harbor 9am to 5pm.
  • Speeches, preformances, and discussion groups all day at the nearby stage and Jincheng Activities Center. Many of these will be by foreign bird group representatives - in English.
  • Free shuttle buses morning and afternoon from the Wuchi side of the bridge to birdwatching sites. Route A: Sicao ‘inland sea’. Route B: Sicao mangroves ‘green tunnel’. Route C: Cigu (Qigu). First registered gets the limited spaces.
On Monday there will be other activities for invited foreign guests. 

Pester me for more details. Hope to see you there. 

The bird race at Tataka (trailhead for Yushan) will be on November 12-13th. See the
ROC (Taiwan) Wild Bird Society for registration.

As of the start of October, there have been 11 Black-faced Spoonbills spotted in the Cigu area. If wanting a day-trip out there email me at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nanhu Mountain

Nanhu Dashan (南湖大山)

If you ask 10 experienced Taiwanese high-mountain hikers which mountain is the most beautiful, 9 are likely to say ‘Nanhu’.

Taiwan’s fifth highest (3,742 meters) and the highest in the North-East. If you have climbed  any of the main peaks in Shei-pa (Snow) National Park you may have watched the sun rise from behind Nanhu and its formidable neighbor, Jhongyangjian Mountain.

The trailhead is 3 hours from Taipei City in southern Yilan County, quite close to Wuling Farm - the trailhead for Snow Mountain. The first day’s trail passes through lush mixed temperate and pine forest. On later days there are expansive views from alpine meadows of dwarf bamboo, juniper and rhododendron. At the higher sections the paths traverse craggy cliffs next to enormous landslides, ending in the glacial cirques these mountains are famous for.

More photos here.

Nanhu is only suitable for the more experienced and well-prepared hiker prepared to invest between 4 and 8 days (doing a loop including Jhongyangjian). If time-limited or if there is a a lot of snow present, consider making Nanhu North Peak your target - thus avoiding the trickier fixed-rope sections before the final peaks. Less experienced hikers should consider other peaks elsewhere such as Snow Mountain, Hehuan, Cilai South etc.

I can assist in arranging logistics for this area (serious hikers only): permits, cabin booking, and booking the direct shuttle from Taipei (getting off right at the trailhead).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Paiyun Lodge - not ready yet...

Paiyun Lodge (排雲山莊) is the only significant accommodation along the trail up Yushan (Jade Mountain) from Tataka (Tatajia). An old structure, it worked well when there were few hikers climbing Yushan. In recent years its basic facilities and modest capacity were deemed insufficient for modern climbers.

From September 2010 it has been closed and undergoing reconstruction. Real progress has been made, but many factors mean it is slow. Multiple deadlines for completion have passed. My latest prediction for it operating normally is sometime between spring and fall 2012. Please note, this is not the official line, but is based on personal observations and conversations with many individuals.

As it was late September 2011. More images here

Prior to Paiyun being completed and opening there are essentially 2 options for those wishing to summit Yushan’s main peak. Single-day ascent, and camping at Yuan-fong. Both are tough and only suitable for the hiking-fit and experienced.

There are one or two irresponsible individuals that will boast that that these options are ‘easy’ or ‘anyone can do it’. I (as someone that regularly guides hikers to the top) want to make it clear that this is nonsense for most people. Yes, some some very fit people can run up and down it in a day without a problem, for most it is extremely exhausting and potentially dangerous.

Yushan Main Peak (via Tataka/Tatajia) will, as usual, probably be closed for the month or two around Chinese New Year. Not announced yet (wish they would plan ahead...never do), but probably January, February, maybe March. Even if open around then, there may be extra restrictions or requirements for crampons, helmets, ice-axes etc.

The longer routes into remoter parts of the National Park are opening up after the damage caused in 2009’s Typhoon Morakot. Mapo Cross-Island, the Southern Second Section, and Hsin Kang (Xinkang) Routes are now open - special case applications needed. Batongguan Cross-island is still closed. The Walami Trail should reopen within the month. I hear (haven’t personally been there recently) conflicting reports about the condition of the trail near Guanggao - some say it os OK, some say it is lethal.

Look further north in Taiwan for better trails at the moment.