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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taiwan hikes, like Taiwan girls, are easy

In 1993, Japan's Tōkyō Broadcasting System 東京放送ホールディングス aired a "documentary" on the "Yellow Cab" イエローキャブ  phenomenon , with footage purporting to show Japanese girls in Hawaii doing drugs and sleeping with local Lotharios, as well as young women cruising bars in Roppongi 六本木 and Yokosuka 横須賀 on the prowl for American men. The camera followed one older woman going into a love hotel ラブホテル with her foreign pickup for the night, and there was even a scene that alleged to show an African-American man looking and acting like a pimp. It wasn't long after the program was shown on TBS, however, that it emerged that many of the events depicted on the show were staged. The so-called "pimp", for example, turned out to be a local gaijin 外人 actor who was under the impression that he was doing a scene for a TV drama. What was meant to be an exposé of the scandalous behavior of Japanese women turned out to be a scandal involving deceptive and misleading "investigative journalism."

I was reminded of the TBS affair this morning when I followed a link on Facebook that led me to this report on the sexual availability of Taiwanese women to Western men. You don't have to understand Chinese to be able to follow what the program is talking about. 15 seconds into the clip it becomes clear the report is going to focus on "easy" Taiwanese girls:

As one of the comments on Facebook put it, "It's bullshit news from a bullshit news source". Unfortunately, it's the kind of story that goes over well in this country, playing up to the stereotypes of the oversexed foreign male preying on the virtuous local female, and corrupting her pure Confucian morals in the process. It's no wonder that the average Taiwanese is, to put it bluntly, a dumbass when it comes to perceptions of the outside world and the people that inhabit it. Of course, mention is rarely made of the countless numbers of brothels masquerading as KTV's and "barbershops" dotted all over this island, where sex is readily available at reasonable prices.

OK, perhaps I'm being a little too harsh. After all, I come from the country that considers the likes of Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain as serious presidential candidates, and where far too many people have their views of the world shaped by Fox News. So, on a gloriously warm late fall afternoon such as the one today, it's better to stop thinking about stereotypes and instead focus on the great outdoors, which is what I and my daughter did this Sunday.

If you're looking for an easy walk in central Taiwan, you can't go wrong with the Tianti Hiking Trail 天梯健康步道 in Dongshi 東勢, a 2.6 kilometer (1.6 miles) mountain path of wooden stairs and stone lanes that winds it way through orchards of bananas and persimmons. Though Amber complained at times of feeling tired, she managed to complete the walk without any discernible loss of energy. The bamboo walking stick no doubt helped:

There were some good views to be had of Dongshi below:

There was also some nice scenery on the other side of the mountain:

In addition to the fruit orchards, groves of betel trees dotted the mountainside:

Amber crossed that bridge when she came to it:

The trail begins and ends at the Tiangong Temple 天公廟:

There was nothing wrong with the camera when I took this photo. The small room to the right of the main hall of the temple was filled with incense smoke.

For directions on how to get to the trail, read this Compass Magazine article. Here's a video showing the walk that Amber and I did today.

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