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Green Island: Taiwanese Holiday Island
Kaohsiung (Taiwan), September 26th 2009

In the south east of Taiwan, only thirty kilometres from the shore of the city of Taitung, you will find Green Island. This island is immensely popular with local holidaymakers, partly because of the fact that the island is so close to the main land and is easy reachable by boat. A visit to this island during the weekend or the Taiwanese holiday season is not a good idea, because during these periods, the island is overrun by too many tourists to make it a fun place to visit. We like to experience the way the Taiwanese people celebrate their holidays, but we do certainly not want to be run over, so we decided to stay on the island for three days during a midweek period.

Green Island is small. The road that encircles the island is only twenty kilometres long. There is one main village on the island where most hotels, restaurants and some small supermarkets are located. We take the first boat of the day from the harbour near Taitung to Green Island. Despite the fact that it is outside the weekend, the boat is almost full. Only a minor part of the passengers on the boat travel to the island for a longer period. By far, most people visit the island as a daytrip. The boat departs at nine-thirty in the morning and the journey takes almost an hour, which means that the arrival time is around ten-thirty. We noticed that some people already bought a ticket for the boat back at two-thirty in the afternoon. That means that these people have less than four hours to spend on the island. It is almost autumn, which means that the sea is rougher. The waves move the boat up and down and some people are starting to get sick. But it is holiday, so the Taiwanese people keep smiling. Even the sick ones.

One of the many terrific views on Green Island

If we approach the harbour of Green Island, the situation is getting hectic. People start pushing on a non-Taiwanese way to get as soon as possible off the boat. It is understandable if you have only less than four hours to spend on the island. We decide to wait for a while till most people left the boat, before we put our feet on the continent again. When we leave the harbour we see hundreds, maybe even thousands of scooters parked along both sides of the road. It seems that the scooters are for rental purposes, and a main part of the boat passengers surround the rental office in anticipation of renting one of the scooters. Like we mentioned before, the island is small. It only takes thirty minutes to drive around the island without making a stop, which means that even the people who visit the island as a daytrip, can encircle the island more than once if they want. We keep walking towards the main village of the island to check in a hotel. We will spend the remaining part of the day by walking around in the near vicinity of the village, and will explore the island by scooter tomorrow.

The next morning, we take an early start to explore the island. We decided to rent the scooter via our hotel, because they are more willing to rent us a scooter without the need of seeing a driving license for these 125cc motorcycles. We heard that there is no police presence on the island, making driving around without a license more relaxed. There are two roads on the island. The coastal road encircles the complete island while the inland mountain road takes you almost to the highest top of 281 metres. Reaching the top is not possible, because the highest part of the island is occupied by the military and their radar systems. The road is not spectacular, but once in a while it gives you a nice view on the surrounding island and the beautiful azure blue ocean in where the island is located. When we are back on the coastal road, we notice that intensity of the scooter traffic increased. The first boat arrived from the mainland, bringing a new load of day-trippers that massively decided to rent a scooter to encircle the island.

The famous Chaojih salt-water hotsprings and its beautiful setting
It is great to see that a huge variety of people visits the island and use the scooter to go around. A significant part of the people travel to the island on an organised tour group. They travel in big groups of around twenty scooters and are easily recognisable because of the similar coloured helmets that they wear and by the gaudy coloured flag that is tied up on the scooter of the tour guide, so that everybody knows what scooter to follow. When they reach one of the view points, the guide takes out a megaphone from his bag, and starts explaining in a noisy way what things are worth noticing. Besides the tour groups, you will also see many young love couples. Also they are easy recognisable. The guy is driving the scooter, while she is sitting on the back, holding him tightly and putting her chin on his shoulder. They guys are not wearing a lot of clothes, while this is not always true for the girls. Sometimes they wear short trousers and airy tank tops, but you also see them often completely covered in all kinds of cloths. They are probable afraid of getting a tint, resulting in large hats, facial covers, long sleeves and even gloves. And because they also often wear sunglasses, you won’t see any flesh of these ladies. That must be uncomfortable in a temperature that exceeds the thirty degrees Celsius.

Green Island is a great place to spend a couple of days to enjoy the beautiful environment and the way that local people spend their holidays. People told us that the Taiwanese do not have a lot of holidays, which means that they spend their free time as efficient as possible. Green Island is a great place to do that. The island is small, and even if you have just one day, it is a place that is easy to visit. Because of the volcanic nature of the island, is has a rough and beautiful coastline, with nice swimming and snorkelling possibilities. Besides that, Green Island is also blessed with one of the only three salt-water hot springs that can be found on our planet. And to make to even better, the hot springs are beautiful located near the coast, making it a great place to enjoy the end of an exhausting day. It is also a good place to meet friendly Taiwanese people and to conclude that the major attraction of Taiwan is undoubtedly it inhabitants.

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