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【吉客沙龍】The Offshore Islands of Taiwan - A Marine Conversazione

已更新:2022年9月24日


吉客鏈:從海洋看台灣 X 海洋生態及文化感知 X 2023 跳島旅遊

 

Beautiful and International


Taiwan was formerly known as 'Formosa' which means a 'beautiful island'. I was raised on this island without knowing too much about its coastal. My generation acknowledged Taiwan as an extended base of Chinese culture and spirit.


Photo Credit | Chi Hsu

In recent years, foreign historians and local scholars have revealed how the Dutch opened Taiwan's maritime potential during the Discovery Era and Spanish, British onwards.


So Taiwan's coastal waters and islands aren't only beautiful but also truly international.


Taiwan is a constitutional island country, the territory of which covers numerous isles and islets. Currently, Taiwan's geopolitical status including its islands has attracted enormous attentions. This was also true in the past.


To learn more about Taiwan's geopolitical role in history. I selected three books to read - Empire of the Winds (by Philip Bowring), Sea Power (by Admiral James Stavridis) and War, Trade and Piracy (by Cheng Weichung). This large amount of reading, my idea about Taiwan's maritime impacts in the affairs of global history. It took me a lots of time to understand how lively were the activities in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean since 400 years ago.



The Marine Culture and Scenery


Taiwan's marine culture and scenery, is mixed with the austronesian tribes, tectonic movements, and the Discovery Era's heritages. Specifically, the coastal wharfs and offshore islands could be easily visited by passing sailors. The mapping below entitled these offshore islands (English in red text).


(Source: Google)

 

【Three types of island formation】

  • Continental Island - Matsu, Kinmen.

  • Volcanic Island - Penghu, Green Islet and Orchid Isle.

  • Coral Reef Island - Xiao Liuqiu, Dongsha (Pratas) Islet.

 

A Marine Conversazione

Photo Taken by Carol Hsu

In my youth I made seaside trips to the coastal fishermen's wharf, summer villa and beach although I am a landlubber [Note 1]. I know the certified guide - Allen Kuo(郭立綸)who volunteers for the Marine National Park Headquarters and works for the Kaohsiung City Hall - Culture Affairs Bureau. Allen and I had a marine conversazione at a cafe near Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung.


Allen Kuo

It was very pleasant and informative dialogue with Allen. He has been a tour guide career for 13 years and specializes in the fields of natural, historical community, cultural heritage walking tours. We share a passion for the tourist industry in Taiwan. Allen introduced three offshore islands and one cultural park with the Discovery Era's heritages during our conversazione.


The Marine National Park HQ's administration includes Dongsha Atoll National Park and South Penghu Marine National Park. Allen as its volunteer guide, he was delighted to share more with me.


The Dongsha Atoll National Park is the 7th national park which contains a rich diverse marine life from fish, jelly fish, squid, sharks, and rays to rarer sea turtles, dolphins and whales. It was established to preserve the marine livelihood so isn't opened for tourists to visit.


Allen had an opportunity to guide a group of ecology researchers to visit there. These photos he shared below which demonstrates how the atoll isles are. When the ecology is getting important, I'm so glad to know Taiwan's administration looks after the marine landscape.

(Photo Credit | Allen Kuo)



The 2nd offshore island group he shared about is the South Penghu Marine National Park. The Penghu islands group, composing of 90 islets, is very touristy for on-land/in-water/on-water destination [Note 2].

Allen showed me a YT video of traveling program that he guided a group of SETN TV's moderators about traditional community and natural sightseeing in Dongji islet of South Penghu. It looks so natural and beautiful. (Have you ever seen the lavender-color coral creatures, Click here to see more.)


(Source: 上山下海過一夜)


  • Orchid Island

My 11-year-old nephew - Albert, who always chats about his school days with me is interested. One day, I said that I had a marine conversazione with Uncle Allen who has visited many offshore islands. He said that his school book introduced it this semester, and he showed me. The illustration provided a simple highlight of the offshore islands' features.


(Source: The 5th Grade's Textbook.)

You probably found the fishing boats (Tatala) on the right bottom, which is the 3rd offshore island Allen would like to introduce - Orchid Island.


Orchid island's indigenous tribe is Tao people, who are an Austronesian ethnic group. Tao's boat, Tatala, is the ultimate creation of beauty because it is considered as an extension of man's body.


(Photo Credit | Allen Kuo)

'Hong Mao' literally means 'Red Hair', pointing to a Dutch era's heritage site. As mentioned earlier, Taiwan's marine history starts with the Dutch in the 17th century. In 1662, Koxinga's force defeated the Dutch whom retreated southward to Kaohsiung port, which is now renovated as Hong Mao Cultural Park.


Many visitors aren't aware of this history so Allen has to schedule himself here to guide them in exploring the historical zone. The park has a platform close enough to observe the modern cargo ships. He showed the massive Evergreen cargo ship which passed through. Very impressive.

(Photo Credit | Allen Kuo)


The cultural cruise operates from pier to pier inside Kaohsiung Harbour. After you have seen the Dutch landing port, it is possible to take the cultural cruise to the British Consulate site.


(Source: Kaohsiung Cultural Cruise website)



A Marine Tour


Embracing the marine culture and scenery in Taiwan, the tour is able to arrange for over-nighters or day-trippers. The Year of 2023 is planned to be The Travel Year of Offshore Islands by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. I hope we could be shorten our social distancing at that time, Welcome to Taiwan!


 
  1. Among all offshore islands, I had visited Kinmen where is very closed to Xiamen, mainland China. It contains rich marine and military history. A national park planned in 1995. My travelogue (in Chinese) click here.

  2. My sister had visited the most tourist-popular isle - Penghu prior to the pandemic. She is a landlubber too but enjoyed the water funs in Penghu. Here I share her photos of the key features of Penghu, including the white sand beach, the basalt rock formation and the heart-shaped stone weir for you a glance. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau shared more funs click here.)

(Photo Credit | Ling Hsu)

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