Penghu named 'Best secret island' by Lonely Planet

Taiwan’s Penghu Islands were listed by Lonely Planet, the world’s largest travel guide publisher, as one of the 10 best secret island groups in its new 2011 guide.

The travel guide picked the archipelago of 90 islets in the Taiwan Strait for preserving distinctive traditional Taiwanese culture as well as unspoiled natural scenery.

It took particular note of Penghu’s basalt cliffs, fish traps and stone-walled fields, and the fact that endangered green sea turtles nest on its beaches from May to October.

Locals maintain a tradition of leaving turtle-shaped offerings at temples across Penghu as part of the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, the guide said.

While some tourists may shun Penghu between November and April for its exceptionally strong winds, the guidebook chose it for an impressive windsurfing experience.

“The beauty of Penghu lies in its relaxed pace of living and hospitable people,” Penghu County Magistrate Wang Chien-fa said in a statement Dec. 29.

“The government will continue to work to preserve Penghu’s natural beauty, environment and resources as the best draws for Penghu,” he stated.

Other island getaways picked by the Australia-based publisher include Yemen’s Socotra, Japan’s Yaeyama Islands, French Guiana’s Iles du Salut and Panama’s San Blas Archipelago.

(Source: 1 Jan 2011)

Original Article on Loney Planet:
Penghu Islands, Taiwan
" If Taiwan is the other China, then the Penghu islands are the other Taiwan. Administered from Taipei, the 90 islands of the Penghu archipelago are – within Taiwan at least – for their glorious scenery and ‘touching nostalgia’, which translates to unspoiled traditional Taiwanese culture. Away from the capital, Makung, this is a land of ox-carts, fish-traps, stone-walled fields, basalt cliffs and ancient temples dedicated to the sea goddess Matsu. If sun and sand are more your cup of shochu, the beaches and windsurfing are pretty impressive too.



Penghu Stone Fish Weirs

  • Nation: Taiwan
  • Location: Penghu County
  • GPS: N23°9'~23°47';E119°18'~119°42'
Introduction

Stone fish weirs are kinds of fish traps used in inter-tidal zones. The stone walls are built with stones from nearby, utilizing the tidal range to trap fish within the walls; it is one of the oldest methods for catching fish. According to studies, stone fish weirs were used around the world as early as the Neolithic age, including southern pacific islands, Asian countries coasting the pacific ocean, and even Finland and Australia. However, in terms of quantity and aesthetics, Penghu is at the top of the list.

According to a survey in 1996, Penghu has over 570 stone fish weirs, including 250 in Baisha Township, over 140 in Xiyu Township, roughly 80 in Husi Township and Magong City each, 3 in Wangan Township, and one in Chimei Township, which is the world famous Twin Heart Stone Weir.
Penghu’s stone fish weirs are built from a mixture of basalt and coral, and come in three basic forms, an arc, single pool and double pool. The length of a single stone fish weir varied from under 100 meters to some over 1,000 meters. Naming of the stone fish weirs included topographic characteristics (e.g. the chicken stone weir in Jibei), geographic location (e.g. the north stone weir in Nanliao), nearby geographical names (e.g. the Jinguazai stone weir of General Islet), the time the stone weir was built (e.g. the New Stone weir of Siwei), the shape of the fish weir (e.g. the Twin Moon Stone weir of Lungmen), and the types of fish that it caught (e.g. the Snakefish Stone weir of Chikan).
Stone fish weirs were once an important economic source of fishermen in Penghu. However, following changes in fishing methods and damage to the marine environments, the condition of stone fish weirs gradually worsened, some became buried in sand, and some are left in ruins.
Among Penghu’s stone fish weirs, Chimei’s Twin Heart Stone Weir and Jibei’s stone fish weir group are registered as cultural landscapes. Some villages also have well preserved stone fish weir groups, including Wude, Erkan and Waian. The entire collections of Penghu Stone Fish Weirs were selected as one of Taiwan’s 17 potential world heritage sites in 2009. Future efforts will not only be directed towards preserving the stone fish weirs, but also the fishing culture, fishing rights tablet, traditional techniques, as well as the history and culture of stone fish weirs.

Criteria under Which Inclusion is Proposed
“Regarding sea as field” kept early Penghu residents alive, when winter came and the ocean blew strong winds of the northeast monsoon, going out to sea was too dangerous, so the fishermen used black basalt and white coral to build stone fish weirs, avoiding the dangers of the sea by utilizing the tidal range to trap fish. This is the wisdom of our ancestors and meets the first criterion for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Stone fish weirs are artificial constructions in shallow parts of the ocean, they are easily damaged by waves and need to be constantly maintained. After the 1970s, profits of other fishing activities increased significantly (making profits from stone fish weirs less appealing), and Penghu fishermen gradually lost interest in running stone fish weirs. In addition, damage to the marine environment has accelerated in the past decade, and the condition of Penghu’s stone fish weirs has deteriorated; some have sand deposits, some are entirely buried in sand, and some are left in ruins, making it hard to picture its past glory. Therefore, Penghu Stone Fish Weirs meet the fifth criterion for inscription on the World Heritage List.

 


About Penghu
 

  Penghu is a large archipelago incorporating the Penghu, Paisha and Hsi Islands, between mainland China and Taiwan. The entire archipelago encompasses 64 small islands- with a combined coastline of more than 300 kilometers.  Unlike Mountainous Taiwan, the Penghu islands are generally low lying, with wide grassland plains. The islands have an excellent climate, with warm balmy weather perfect for the many beautiful beaches.

 
  The Penghu chain is dotted with many small towns and fishing villages, so it!|s not suprising that there are almost 150 temples here devoted to the Goddess Matsu, who is known as the traditional guardian and protector of fisherman and sailors. On the largest island, Penghu, is the only city in the archipelago- Makung- home to Taiwan!|s oldest temple (devoted to Matsu) which has been in existence for over 375 years.  Makung is an excellent base for exploring the entire archipelago- the city is easily accessible form mainland Tawian by either air of ferry and has an excellent local network of intra-island transport.
 
  Easily accessible from Makung is beautiful Lintou- a stunning tropical beach with wide white sands.
To explore further afield, you!|ll need to charter a tourist boat or take an organized tour through the archipelago. Each island has different geographic, cultural and natural attractions- as well as plenty of idyllic beaches.

 
  Highlights include:

Paisha Island home to a giant 300 year old Banyan tree and to the Penghu Aquarium, where a purpose built undersea tunnel lets visitors explore the underwater world without setting foot in the sea.

Stunning Hsi Island is a gorgeous, completely unspoilt place- with many beaches and small hidden coves. At one end of the island stands the historic Hsitai fort, built in 1883 under the Manchu Dynasty. This large, well preserved fort is of great historical interest, but also has amazing views: from its rooftop it is possible to see the mountains of Taiwan on one side of the island, and of China on the other.
 
                             There are excellent beaches for swimming and watersports at Chipei and Hsienchiao and great snorkeling off the shores of Hsiaopiasha.

Bird watchers will be richly rewarded by colonies of birds on Chishan and Mao Islands, where it is believed that more migratory birds stop than in any other place in Asia.
 
  At the Southernmost tip of the archipelago is Chimei Island- whose name means !??Seven Beauties!?L. Local legend has it that centuries ago seven beautiful young women committed suicide here rather than face a band of approaching Pirates. The Tomb of these young women can still be visited today.

Penghu can be reached by air from Taipei, Tainan, Taichung, Pingtung, Kaohsiung, Chimei and Chiayi or by Ferry from Kaohsiung or Chiayi.
   

 

From May to October, Penghu’s beaches are a nesting ground for endangered green turtles – locals leave turtle-shaped offerings at temples across Penghu as part of the Lantern Festival, 14 days after the New Year.  "

 


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