With a coronavirus rate near zero, Taiwanese take to camping in the great indoors

The Los Angelese Times
Date: Aug. 22, 2020
By : Ralph Jennings

A man sleeps in a tent under a roof at Ponponwu, a fully indoor campground in Taiwan.  (Ralph Jennings)

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan —  Yeh Shu-chi and her two children once camped in the mountains of central Taiwan. Their drive up a dirt road to the campground was so harrowing, Yeh recalls, that she hasn’t tried it again.

Moreover, what if the raging river near their campsite swallowed her 7-year-old son or 12-year-old daughter? “High water is a matter of safety and there’s no way around it,” the 42-year-old housekeeper said.

Yet when the trio found themselves with time on their hands earlier this year as Taiwan delayed the start of the school semester to combat the spread of the coronavirus, their thoughts turned back to camping. And one Wednesday night, they camped again — in an auditorium-sized room with tents spaced out in deference to social distancing standards.

In recent years, camping in the great indoors has become increasingly popular in Taiwan. And with the coronavirus transmission rate one of the world’s lowest — fewer than 500 confirmed cases and seven deaths all year on an island of nearly 24 million citizens — the idea of avoiding dirt and water in many cases trumps the concept of avoiding congregating indoors.

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