Discovering the stories along Taiwan’s rivers and where to visit during summer.
The News Lens
By: Steven Crook
Taiwan is very mountainous and gets plenty of rain, so it’s no surprise the island is
cleaved with short, fast rivers. The longest waterway is the 186 km-long Zhuoshui (the name means “turbid water”). Only four other rivers are more than 100 km in length.
For centuries these waterways hindered north-to-south journeys. Few permanent bridges were built in Taiwan until the Japanese colonial occupation from 1895 to 1945. Each autumn, after the typhoons in summer, temporary bridges made of wood and bamboo were assembled. Where there was no bridge and the waters were too deep to ford, a thick section of bamboo with a strap attached sometimes served as a flotation aid. As recently as the late 19th century, Western travelers were reporting that by far the best way of getting from Takao (as Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan was then known) to Taipei was by sailboat.
The vessels crossing the Taiwan Strait during the Qing Dynasty (which controlled Taiwan until 1895) were tiny by modern standards. Because they were flat-bottomed, they could make their way several kilometers up-river. At inland neighborhoods like Taipei’s Wanhua, riverside docks were always busy as immigrants from China arrived, while tea, camphor and other products were loaded for export. [FULL STORY]