Wednesday, January 17, 2018


An unexpected news! The early appearance of the cherry blossoms in Xinyi caught many by surprise.   Near Taipei 101 is a group of sakura trees located near to the MRT Taipei City Hall Station, they were standing there without leaves until the news spread like wildfire.

Whether the flowers are many or just a few blossoms became my task, So I went immediately to the intersection of Songgao Road and Songzhi Road to check them.  A tall tree can be seen with its flowers wide open with a few buds that are just waiting for the right time.  Not far from where the trees are planted is Taipei 101, Taiwan’s top attraction in the city.

For the past two years, it was always cloudy here in Xinyi District when the flowers are in full bloom.  But with the sunny sky above Xinyi, it was a perfect day for cherry blossom viewing.  It was very rare to see the flowers in their pink color illuminated by the light of the sun.

I was expecting to see the flowers in February.  Last year, they blossomed late.  This was probably due to the delayed arrival of the northeast monsoon.   In order for the flowers to open, the cherry blossoms need a cold weather aside from other factors like soil pH, wind direction, and sunlight.    Without the right conditions, the flowers would stay as buds until the right time comes.

Their early blossoming in January means one thing.  The winter season for 2017-2018 was colder than the previous year and the sakura trees in the city and in the mountains of Yangmingshan will produce more flowers than the past two years.

I will be monitoring the situation of the cherry blossoms in Xinyi District until they approach their peak period.  The trees here plus the ones beside Taipei City Hall are worth to see.  Once they come out at the same time, they will be a visual treat for everyone to enjoy. 

How to get here:  Board the Taipei MRT to Taipei City Hall Station.   Go to Exit 2 via the escalators and get out of the Taipei City Hall Bus Station into the direction of Taipei 101.  The cherry blossoms are located at the intersection of Songgao Road and Songzhi Road. 

GPS: 25.038798, 121.565714

Taiwan Cherry Blossoms - 2018 Sakura Series [Travel in Taiwan Wow lineup 180117: Taipei 101 - The first flowers]

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Monday, January 15, 2018

While visitors in Taipei are so excited to see the cherry blossoms in Pingjing St. Lane 42, locals had been gathering around tall trees in a park in Shilin District.  Busy with their cameras, I was with them taking nice photos of these flowers called the plum blossoms.

Known in Taiwan as "meihua", the plum blossoms appear during the winter season.  The more the temperature drops, the more the flowers bloom.   It has a deep meaning in the Chinese-speaking world as it symbolizes perseverance and hope during the harshest times of life.   Flowers appearing during the icy and cold winter season.   Got it?

In Taipei, the plum blossoms are not that many but there are certain parks that people can go to enjoy their beauty.  One of these places is the Zhicheng Park.  How to get here?  Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Shilin Station.  Walk towards the Shilin Official Residence and cross the road to get to the park.

It is the best place to see the meihua in the capital.  There are a few trees but their trunks are tall enough to reach the sky.  I was lucky to see the flowers on a sunny day.  The sky was blue and making the petals shine against the bluish color of the heavens.    

Most visitors took photos of the plum blossoms with their bulky cameras.   I even saw one woman with toys in her bag.   She used it as props with the meihua flowers as the background.   Taiwanese usually do this kind of thing like using dolls to take good pictures instead of taking selfies.  

If you are in Taipei and you want to see these flowers, then hurry.  I already saw some leaves on the branches.  Soon all the flowers will fall to the ground as rain and strong wind can easily blow them away.   Such a short life for these flowers! So we should love them just like the sakuras.  See you in the next post of the Plum Blossom Series.

Plum Blossom Series [Travel in Taiwan Wow lineup 180115: Zhicheng Park]

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sakura Series.  The crown jewel of the luomujie blog will open again for another great season of cherry blossom hunting.  Gone are the days that tourists could not find a reliable source of English information about the different cherry blossom viewing spots on this island.  Thanks to my website, searching for the beautiful flowers during the festive spring season had become easier.

at Orange Garden Cafe

But what are the odds of seeing cherry blossoms when visiting in February, March or even April? Well, the chances are very high, the only thing you need to know is WHERE and WHEN they will appear.  Timing is very important during the Taiwan's cherry blossom festival.  You come very early and the flowers are not yet many.  You arrive late and the flowers start to wither and fall on the ground like teardrops.

Answering the question WHERE, I have prepared a Taiwan Sakura and Attractions Map to help visitors easily find their way to the cherry blossom trees.  The combined libraries of the 2016 and 2017 edition of my Sakura Series gave rise to 50 different points on the island.   How to use this map? Just click on the flower icon, and a photo will appear with a link to my blog post.  For readers using smartphone, the Sakura Map can be opened through the Google Maps app which makes it convenient for tourists who are always on the go.  

Wulai Scenic Area

at Pingjing St. Lane 42

Tianyuan Palace backyard

Broadwood Park

Wuling Farm

Now that you know where are the different places to see cherry blossoms in Taiwan, the next question that I need to answer is WHEN is the best time to visit them is.  This is a very tricky question.  To help solve this problem, the desktop version of the luomujie blog has been designed with a cherry blossom submenu.  The different sakura spots have been grouped based on the month that I saw them.  So for the month of January, Pingjing St. Lane 42 and Wulai Scenic Area are the first bloomers.   This will be followed by the flowers in the Tianyuan Palace backyard, Broadwood Park, New Garden City and the very beautiful Wuling Farm during February. 

Yangmingshan Park stream area
Yangming Park fountain

at Yangmingshan Park Visitor Information Center

at Yangmingshan Park Service Center bus stop
Sun Link Sea

The month of March is a wild animal.  Climate change had disrupted the blossoming patterns of the sakuras in Yangmingshan, making them to appear weeks after the Chinese New Year.  The flowers there usually blossoms in February as supported by my “Taiwan Day 539: The Beginning of Spring” travelogue in 2015.  Now, the sakuras seem to blossom in March breaking the norms of what it was used to be.  Expect the showa and yoshino sakura to appear during this month with the park stream area, the Yangming Park fountain, Yangminshan Visitor Center and Yangmingshan Park Service Center bus stop as the best places to gaze at the flowers.  In New Taipei, the Tianyuan Palace is the hotspot every March while Sun Link Sea in Nantou is the next big thing after the Wuling Farm cherry blossom  festival.

Loving Farm in Lalashan

Xinshe Cherry Hill Slope

at Tai'an Police Station

Other places like the Loving Farm in Lalashan are also worth to see. But with no public transportation to take people directly to the place, visiting them would take too much time and money.   Taichung offers an alternative to those who had been to Yangmingshan.  Near TRA Tai'an Station is a police headquarters where people flock to enjoy yaesakura cherry blossoms.  While on another district in Central Taiwan, a bus ride from Fengyuan Station takes visitors to the Xinshe Cherry Hill Slope.  It’s an unknown place for cherry blossom viewing and also a little dangerous because it is located beside a road.

Tokyo cherry blossoms in Alishan

April?  There is no other better answer but Alishan.  Visitors can expect the Tokyo cherry blossoms to appear during the first week of April.   The sakura festival in Alishan varies in time depending on the climate condition but expect the flowers to blossom starting from the first week of March to as late as the first half of the month.  The luomujie blog has a special section for Alishan under the April menu of the cherry blossoms tab.  Go ahead and see the links. It also available on the Sakura Map.  Alishan is located on the Southern region of Taiwan.  Zoom in on the map and you will discover the different places where you can see in the sakuras inside the forest recreation area.

Dongfang Temple

Sansei Trail

Hope River

If you think that going to Alishan will consume a lot of time, then Taipei has some places to offer.   I call them the late-bloomers and they are the Dongfang Temple in Shilin District and the Hope River and Sansei Trail in New Taipei.  I cannot specifically tell the best time to visit them but the flowers should blossom on the first week of April if the weather conditions are just right for the buds to open.

Tianyuan Palace

So are you now super-excited to see the cherry blossoms in Taiwan?  If yes is your answer, then start planning your itinerary.  But wait, there’s more! Exciting new sakura viewing spots will be featured in the luomujie blog this year.  These are places that has never been seen before by the English-speaking world.   I will also revisit selected places in Greater Taipei.  So you better watch out, you better not cry because spring is coming to town.   

Cheers for the grand opening of the 2018 Sakura Series!

2018 Taiwan Cherry Blossom Forecast: The ultimate guide

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Monday, December 25, 2017

A 30-story building that illuminates into a magical show, a Broadway-themed Christmas tree and free hugs for everyone. I only know one place on Earth where you can experience all of these. Taiwan! Wherever you go in the city during the month of December, you will always find a spot that will remind you of Christmas. That's right! The season of joy can be felt on this island.

Let's start first with Banqiao. This is the capital of New Taipei City. Every year the city hall grounds is turned into a Christmasland with a giant Christmas tree as its main attraction. In 2016, the festivity become grander with the introduction of a 3D projection show at the facade of the city hall building. So gone are the days that you only look at the tall sparkling tree to remind you of Christmas. Now, you just have to enjoy a five-minute show that will bring you to kaleidoscope-like world.

People had also been flocking to the footbridge near the city. hall A tunnel was created there out of blue Christmas lights. Going inside was like walking in a surreal world. Make a wish as you stroll in the tube but be considerate of other people because the place had been packed with visitors who also wants to enjoy the scenery.

Lonely this Christmas? No problem! Free hugs are available for everyone in Taipei. Around the corners of the shopping district in Xinyi District are people holding a placard with a sign “I'm here” or “Free hugs”. They come in groups and sometimes do a flash mob to the surprise of every visitor in Taipei's luxury shopping malls. Don't be shy to approach them. Remember that their hugs are free.

Still not happy in Taipei during Christmas and want to leave the country? Don't worry because Uni-President Mall prepared a New York-style holiday decorations that will make you feel that you're in the Big Apple without ever leaving Taiwan. Through its marketing campaign of “isharing”, the mall has been visited by locals and international tourists looking for a different kind of a Christmas concept.

Go to the second floor via the staircase and you will be surprised with its dazzling colors. A red stiletto heel will suddenly catch your attention. Its shiny appearance represents the glitz and glamour of a Broadway musical transformed into a set of Christmas decors. Continuing the climb, you will find yourself staring at a colorful Christmas tree. Get closer and you will find out that it contains numerous light bulbs that are used in a theatrical stage.

Some would say that Christmas in Taiwan is just for commercial purposes. Yes, it's true. It's all about Santa Claus, reindeers, gifts. It's difficult to find a Bethlehem scene in a mall because the number of Christians on this Asian country is very small compared to the Philippines. But visit churches and you will surely find that baby boy laid in a manger. The true meaning of Christmas that everybody should remember.

Spread the love this holiday season. Hug your loved ones in a sweet embrace. Tell them how much you care for them. Befriend your enemies. Forget all the sins that they have done to you. Make this world a better place to live in. Greet everyone a merry merry Christmas.

Travel in Taiwan 171225: A Merry Merry Christmas

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