Monday, April 24, 2006

Camping in Toucheng 頭城鎮, Yilan County 宜蘭縣

Toucheng 頭城 is located on the east coast near Yilan 宜蘭 and in Yilan County 宜蘭縣. From Xindian 新店 follow Highway 9 towards Pinglin and Yilan to the coastal flat land. When you cross the mountains and are on the coastal flat lands you will follow the signs to the north (left) away from Yilan which is to the south. Once in Toucheng another clearly marked road sign will direct you to the Toucheng Seaside Park.

It is roughly 60 km so allow at least 2 hours from Xindian if traveling by scooter or car. From Taipei go South on Roosevelt Road. When you cross the river into Xindian, the name will change to Bei Xin Road but the road remains the same. Where you would turn right to go to Wulai, you will continue straight and the road will become Hwy. 9. Once you are out of Xindian you will start to climb the mountain hills. Roads can have dangerously sharp curves. Much of the road has little or no shoulder to drive on.

The beach is not the greatest for swimming or sunbathing but it is ok for wading. The surf is rough and the beach rocky with some patches of gray sand which is littered with some trash.

The park is well maintained and the camping area while small is very nice. There is a grassy area just above the beach where no camping is permitted. It would be suitable for Frisbee, football, or other outdoor games. There is an observation tower overlooking the seaside. The campsites have some shade trees, BBQ pits, picnic tables and tent platforms. Campsites are very clean. Toilet houses are adequate, with showers but no hot water and are as clean as can be expected. The park is generally quiet and relaxing. We were the only overnight campers during our stay, but a lot of day trippers came in tour buses and locals continued to come by in small numbers throughout the night.

Camping is free with a $1000 deposit. This includes the key to the gate, which is only necessary if you travel by car. Free parking is also available. Overall I think this is a choice spot. I will visit again at some point.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Links to Chinese Language Learning Sites

English-Chinese-Pinyin online dictionary:


Pinyin-Zhuyin Conversion Chart:
Pinyin Tone Numbers to Tone Marks Conversion:

Pinyin-Zhuyin Conversion Chart

Pinyin-Zhuyin Conversion Chart


Convert Chinese to Pinyin or Zhuyin:

Convert Pinyin with numerical markers to Pinyin with tone markers (zhong1 becomes zhōng)

Freeware tutorial
Type Chinese characters using Pinyin input without installing software or altering settings.
converts Chinese to Pinyin (and Zhuyin / bopomofo)
machine translations, also translates websites.
List of Taipei and Taiwan place names in Chinese and Pinyin
Huge collection of links
multi media Chinese lessons (simplified characters)
suggested links by Forumosa users
Basic Chinese with audio, characters, and Pinyin.

Convert Simplified Characters to Traditional Characters:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Taiwan Related Websites & Other Resources

My Top Picks:

Pinyin & Chinese for Cities, Counties, Trains, Taipei streets, etc:

General Information:

Maps to Points of Interest in Taipei:

Mapping site set to Taipei City:

Maps and tourist infomation: Tourism Bureau

MRT clickable route map:
MRT Pinyin route map

Classified Ads:
Bulletin board forums set up for expatriates in Taiwan.

Taiwan Railway Administration or Taiwan Railway Administration
train schedules

American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto embassy
American Chamber of Commerce, promoting business ties in Taiwan. They have a bulletin board, some useful information, and links to more sites.
Bureau of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The British Trade and Cultural Office, the de facto embassy.
Brass monkey pub’s website featuring a schedule of special events.
the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, the de facto embassy.
The Canadian Society is the equivalent of a chamber of commerce.
Find Canadian Chambers of Commerce around the world and a link to the Canadian Society.
information for Canadians traveling or living abroad.
The China Post Times is one of the two major daily English newspapers in Taiwan. This is their online version.
Citizen Cain pub’s website.
The Community Services Center is a non-profit foundation, which has some helpful information and services for expatriate residents. They are the publishers of Taipei Living, which is a useful book especially if you plan an extended stay in Taipei.
One of Taiwan’s major airlines.
Taiwanese Ministry of Education
a new site advertising jobs for English teachers.
The Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training with information on working and work permits.
A site with lots of good links to other sites including advisories issued by the US and UK.
Far Eastone, one of Taiwan’s mobile phone service providers
A site with bulletin board and chat room set up for expatriates in Taiwan.
Fortuna Hostel
Luxy nightclub
Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Sound nightclub’s website. This is Taiwan’s largest nightclub.
Taiwanese National Police Administration. This site has useful information and forms relating to visa extentions, Alien Resident Certificates (ARC), and health insurance, and other topics.
A site providing maps of Taiwan. It can be useful or frustrating.
Site of Global Oriented, which offers listings for various cities including Taipei.
Liason Office of the Republic of South Africa, the de facto embassy.
This site provides some advice and listings in Taipei as well as other major cities in Asia.
Taipei area site with maps and information for travelers and residents.
Taipei Hostel
This site highlights several bars with the same owner.
Taipei Times is one of the two major daily English newspapers in Taiwan. This is their online version.
Taiwan Tourism Bureau, some attractions and maps.
This is a good general information site on Taiwan. It features a bulletin board with both useful and amusing topics. They will also update you on the status of any typhoons which may threaten the island. This is useful to check and see if you need to go to work the next day.
This is an entertainment guide with listings of restaurants and bars in Taiwan. They also publish a free magazine, which has a pull out map inside each issue.
The few job posts they had were out of date. I’m not sure why they keep advertising in the China Post.
This site provides maps of Taiwan. It is of some use if you want to chart a course between their pre-selected tourist destinations.
A sports bar located near Taipei 101.
Taiwan Cellular Corporation (TCC) one of Taiwan’s mobile phone service providers.
a new website advertising teaching jobs. It requires you to log in to read or place ads.
This is probably the most comprehensive listing of teaching jobs in Taiwan and it is updated regularly. They feature free classified ads in a variety of categories including teaching jobs, other jobs, personals, apartments, roommates, scooters, computers, used mobile phones, and other items for sale.

They have information on setting up cell phones, Internet service, and getting health checks. This is good information but can become outdated quickly as the government and companies change their policies and update their systems.
Check out the US Department of State and the official state of their paranoia.
official site of Taipei’s Metro Rapid Transit train system.
This site offers a bulletin board for expatriates to say whatever they need to say.
information and assistance for Canadians abroad.
This site offers some advice for various locations including Taipei.
Amigo Hostel

Guide Books

Lonely Planet Taiwan
This is one of the few widely available guidebooks for Taiwan. It has a lot of valuable information and is a good resource. Their website is

Taipei Living
Published by the Community Services Center located in the Tienmu area of Taipei, this book has a lot of valuable information. It is part practical information and part yellow page directory. This book is designed for expatriate residents and covers a lot of day-to-day needs as well as information on moving and finding schools for expatriate children. I get the impression that this is the product of a lot of bored expatriate housewives, as the advice is quite sterile and assumes that you or your company will have the money to finance their suggestions. Their website is

Newspapers and Magazines:
The China Post and The Taipei Times are the two major daily English language newspapers in Taiwan. Some people have a preference, but I don’t think there is much difference. There is another English newspaper the Taiwan News but it is a second rate publication. Taiwan Fun publishes a free monthly magazine advertising restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. It also features a pull out map, which is not as good as the MRT map, but it is small and easier to fold up.

China Post:

Taipei Times:

Taiwan Fun:


Taiwan, Republic of China Government Offices

Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2 Kaitakelan Blvd., Taipei 100


For visa information see the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training with information on working and work permits.

Taiwanese Ministry of Education

Bureau of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

3-5F, 2-2 Chi Nan Road, Section 1


Taiwanese National Police Administration. This site has useful information and forms relating to visa extentions, Alien Resident Certificates (ARC), and health insurance, and other topics.

Foreign Government Offices in Taipei

These offices offer consular services in lieu of official embassies.

American Institute in Taiwan

Australian Commerce and Industry Office

  • International Trade Building, Suite 2612
  • 333 Keelung Road, Section , Taipei 110
  • 2-8725-4100

British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO)

New location in 2008: Taipei City, Xinyi District, Song Gao Rd., No. 9-11, 26F

Canadian Trade Office in Taipei

French Institute in Taipei

ITI Ireland
  • Taipei World Trade Center, 7F, Room 7B-09
  • Xinyi Road, Section 5, No. 5
  • 02-2725-1691

Liason Office of the Republic of South Africa