Deutsche Welle Documentary »
Taiwan is a place of incredible variety. The tiny island’s natural beauty is a concentration of some of Asia’s most spectacular features. To the east, there are sheer cliffs with mountain peaks, plateaus and hot springs. To the south, you’ll find sandy beaches, coral reefs and lagoons.
Although the Taiwanese live in a high-tech world, they are still firmly anchored by ancient traditions. During the course of his life, Lin Liang-tai has created many elaborately adorned wooden boats. But they’re not built to last, as they’re destined for Taiwan’s legendary Wang Ye Festival. As part of the temple ceremony to honor the goddess of the sea, a 10-meter boat is blessed, loaded with offerings and pulled through the village down to the beach. There, it’s set alight, burning any evil spirits that might be lurking about the place.
Shrimps are all the rage in Taiwan. In large halls across the entire island, shrimps can be fished out of huge tanks and put straight on the barbecue. Zhan Jia-ming runs one of these popular shrimp halls, and tips bucketloads of fresh shrimps into the tanks every hour.
Oysters are a mainstay of Taiwanese cuisine, whether boiled, fried or made into oyster sauce. On the west coast, oyster farms sustain entire village communities. In Fangyuan, we see one oyster farmer still using traditional methods to harvest his oysters. He drives ox-drawn carts onto the tidal flats, just as it has been done for generations. In the fishing village of Dongshi, several tons of oysters are harvested, opened and processed every day.
Taiwan’s relations with the mainland have often been strained since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Beijing regards the island as part of its territory. Tensions have been on the rise in recent times. Tsai Jin-lu is a committed birdwatcher. For years, he’s documented his rare bird sightings in the Aogu Wetlands Forest Park on the western coast of Taiwan. But these days, his binoculars are frequently trained on something much bigger, up in the skies above. That’s because this is where the Taiwan carries out fighter jet exercises almost every day.