Taiwan From Above

Southern Taiwan at 30,000 feet.

I recently returned to Taiwan 台灣 after spending a few days in Chiang Mai connecting with the #nomads community and otherwise enjoying the warm sun and hospitality of the land of smiles. Thanks to a happy accident of seating the hourlong descent into Táoyuán 桃園 was like something out of a dream. Our flight path closely followed the western coastline affording impeccable views of the island from the southern tip to the point of landing.

This photograph captures the urban sprawl of Kaohsiung 高雄, Taiwan’s great southern metropolis, framed by Qíjīn 旗津, the slim island guarding the entrance to one of the busiest ports in the world, and the knobby hill of Gǔshān 鼓山, a rare patch of green space amidst the concrete jungle. On the distant horizon one can see the spine of the immense Central Mountain Range 中央山脈 which rises out of the sea in Pingtung 屏東 (to the right) and runs the entire length of the island, trapping ample amounts of haze emitted by the many factories in the area (as well as pollution blown over from neighboring China 中国).

The remainder of the flight1 showcased what a jewel of an island Taiwan 台灣 is—as well as the incredible scale of human activities along the coastal plains. Tainan 台南, Yúnlín 雲林, Changhua 彰化, Taichung 台中 all rolled by, invoking countless memories of adventures and experiences. I had biked the length of this beautiful isle—and now I’ve seen it from the sky too. It was a bit like watching Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above 看見台灣2, a fantastic documentary showcasing the natural splendor of Taiwan—as well as the industrial-scale depredations imposed upon her by the local populace.


  1. In case you’re curious I was flying Tigerair Taiwan (hence the electric orange wingtip) on a route described in my guide to cheap flights from Taiwan
  2. This should be required viewing in all public schools in Taiwan as far as I’m concerned. 

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