A quiet and scenic cycle route out of Taipei.
I thought I'd explain some reasoning behind this blog, answer some questions here. First the name:
This map and blog covers more than just the hidden parts of Taiwan. But those play an important part. I'm always surprised to go to somewhere like Maokong, and see hundreds of people clustered round a few tourist trap teahouses, while the beautiful Yinhe temple is not even thirty minutes walk away. And then surprised again when I post such places on my regular Facebook, and get a ton of comments from both foreigners and Taiwanese wondering where they are. So I thought I'd make something a little more organised, and introduce people to the what I've found through drawing, curiosity and occasionally getting totally lost.
I am making a map using google. It will be covering historical and cultural sites, beautiful natural places, and forgotten buildings or corners of Taiwan which are interesting to explore. Information on some of these places already exists in Chinese, but English speakers are generally a little cut off from a lot of it. Some information can be found on a couple of other excellent English blogs that I'll link to from the map also. I'm conflicted a little between wanting to document and share places and wanting to keep them unspoiled. However I don't anticipate this blog causing a surge of people, and for quite sensitive sites I won't make it that easy to find.
I have a slight obsessive streak and have always wanted to map all the places I've been to here. I would have liked to make it hand-drawn but that was totally impractical and hard to update. I realize some of the places I've marked aren't that interesting to the average person so I've made a ratings system:
Classic marker: These are markers I haven't finished; they maybe need a pic or directions.
Square: These are places that aren't that interesting to people who are not me. Or people who have a special interest in that area. Maybe they are worth a quick look if you were already heading that way.
Circle: These are worth checking out and are something a little special in Taiwan's landscape. They are not worth a big diversion to unless you're really interested in that type of thing.
Diamond: These are worth making a bit of a special trip to. They are maybe a museum with some interesting exhibits or an atmospheric temple.
Star: These places are great and totally worth an excursion to.
I will be writing longer blog posts about most of the really interesting place. The squares are just interesting little diversions that caught my eye. The purple markers indicate places like Taipei 101 or Shilin Night Market. These are places that everyone and their dog knows about. I don't see much point writing a lot about them, as there's already plenty of English and Chinese info online. I'll only make a purple place a different color if there's something about it most people don't seem to know about.
The majority of my historical info has come from friends, visits to sites, and Chinese language sites. Same with a lot of the hiking info, though I will recommend this excellent blog for turning me on to some awesome places. Urban exploration locations have mostly come through friends, and my own knack for discovering places on Google Earth (scan around looking for buildings with tons of trees around, especially on the roof). There's also an excellent Chinese language Facebook group here which has hundreds of places. And Alex keeps a great blog with lots of interesting places here
For each marker I've put the location on regular Google maps. If you're terrible with directions and maps then that's just too bad. I'm only going to put detailed directions on places that are genuinely hard to find. This also allows you to streetview locations if you're curious.
This is totally non-commercial, and really just a hobby. I want to stay away from listing shops and restaurants, as these are well done areas and you're never far from great food in Taiwan anyway. Please research further than this map and blog about places. Some locations I've not visited for a couple of years, while some I visited yesterday, so please check more sources! All the photos are my own unless they're from 100 years ago. A lot were taken a little carelessly for map drawings. I'm fine with you using them if you want, but please put a little source credit or link.
Thanks, and enjoy exploring the lesser known parts of Taiwan!