Tag Archives: Sanzhi 三芝

Typhoon Soudelor ~ the Aftermath

A week after Typhoon Soudelor hit, and it now has its own Wikipedia page here.  Current figures are that 8 people died and over 400 were injured in Taiwan as a result of the typhoon. The worst affected area was the hot spring area of Wu-Lai up in the mountains above Taipei where a major landslide has devastated the valley, washing away homes, hotels, roads, cars, trees and filling the beautiful hot springs with mud.

Throughout the country, damage to homes and businesses is immense, but at least mostly repairable.  That’s what we’ve all been doing all week, fixing and mending and cleaning and mopping up.  Even for people whose homes were OK, the amount of dust everywhere was incredible.  Damage to trees and crops is more tragic in many ways, as it’ll take months and years to recover.  Nationwide, the biggest damage is to the banana crops.

This morning was my first time to go out locally in the Sanzhi 三芝 area since the typhoon hit. Most noticeable are the downed banana trees and the unripe banana fruit lying on the ground, unable to be harvested.  Interestingly many of the papaya trees have all lost their leaves but being stronger, have kept their fruits.  Peanuts and other low-growing crops and fruits seem fine, and rice was harvested only last week….

And then there is the poor old bitter gourd.  A few weeks ago, July 28 in fact, I posted a photo of a crop of bitter gourds I had seen growing locally.  The post can be seen here. Bitter gourds usually grow from a frame, hanging down, and are often wrapped up to prevent damage.  Today I noticed that the whole crop and the whole frame has been completely destroyed by the typhoon.  I may not like bitter gourd – but this is so sad.

Before and after photos…

Please continue to pray for Taiwan as the country clears up after the typhoon.  The army are doing much of the work in Wu-Lai, but even today there is a report of one of the soldiers being crushed to death while removing typhoon debris.

In the Taiwan Episcopal Church, we thank God that none of our churches sustained major damage and all our church members are safe.  We have had many messages of support and assurances of prayer from all over the world.  Thank you to you all!

Sanzhi Swallows Nightly Rendezvous!

Yep, out of all the places in this northern Taiwan town of Sanzhi 三芝 for swallows to choose to gather for their nightly rendezvous, they choose the main intersection right in the centre of town, where life goes on more or less non-stop 24/7 – this was the scene there last night!

In the evenings there’s a shop selling fried chicken right here under these lights, and next door is a breakfast shop, so there’s not many hours when people aren’t lining up right here to buy something!


Swallows are regarded as auspicious birds in Taiwan and people go to great lengths to help swallows make and keep a nest – even in the most inconvenient of places, like right above the main entrance to their house….

These are barn swallows ~ check out this article in Taiwan Today and it explains why we see them all year round – some nest here and migrate south for winter, others nest in Japan and further north and spend winter here, and others are just passing through….

Pretty amazing eh?  And in fact, just across this road junction is a central reservation of trees which hosts a roost of birds that look a bit like a starling, there are thousands of them flying in there at night – and the noise is deafening!

Introducing Sanzhi 三芝!

New house, new town!  Yep, I’m now living in the town of Sanzhi  三芝, variously spelt Sanzhi, Sanshi, Sanjhih or Sanchih, and just to confuse you further, variously pronounced San-ze or San-jer.  We’re on the NW coast of Taiwan, 5 miles (8 km) north of St. John’s University, and about 3 miles SW of the northern tip of Taiwan, a GREAT location!

Sanzhi Town and District is the sort of place where everyone passes through in order to get to somewhere else.  They’re on their way north to the beautiful white sand beach just up the road at Baishawan, going on to Fugui Cape Lighthouse at the northern tip of Taiwan, and round the coast to the hot springs at Jinshan.  Or they’re on their way south to Tamsui ~ or on their way up to Yang-Ming Shan Mountains.  Anyhow, anyway, the roads are packed out at weekends, everyone’s going places!

But it’s well worth stopping here, honest!  Sanzhi has definitely got its act together and is forging its own identity, not just as a place to pass through to get elsewhere.  Famous in Taiwan for being the hometown of the first Taiwanese president, Lee Tung-hui who was born into a Hakka family in Sanzhi in 1923, during the Japanese Colonial Period – his old home is well-preserved, and there’s even a visitor centre, with a Gallery of Famous Sons. No daughters.  Not yet, anyway. Though all the 4 Famous Sons no doubt had mothers and wives and women in their lives who made them who they were.

Also just outside the town up on a hill is Mackay Medical College ~ with great views of the sea in one direction and the Yang-Ming Shan mountains in the other.

And in-between is a broad and fertile valley, Ba-Lian Stream, which leads up to Ba-Xian Village. The area was first settled by Hakka people in the mid-1600’s, followed in the next century by the first settlers from Fu-Jian Province. They intermarried, cleared and cultivated the land, and their descendants are still very much here. Lots of local people, including the former president, have the surname Lee.  Me too ha ha!

All this makes it a wonderful place for early morning and late afternoon walks.  It’s too hot the rest of the time.  The area is famous in spring for its cherry blossom, and in summer for its fields of water oats (water bamboo, ‘beauty legs’) which is kind of like a leek. It’s so famous in fact that in Sept-Oct, Sanzhi has its very own Water Oats Festival. The area is also famous for vegetables and fruit ~ marrows, cucumbers, bitter gourds, water melons, peanuts, rice….  Much of the land is terraced with waterwheels everywhere, many still working.  Oh yes, and lotus flowers, looking spectacular.

Lots of temples, of all different kinds, and several small churches ~ Presbyterian, R.C., Pentecostal. A primary school, junior-high school, and a lively market selling everything. And shops selling everything else.  So many small shops.  So many cram schools, after-school centres and kindergartens offering education all day long.  For a small town, there’s a lot going on!  Oh yes, and food. Plenty of good eating places, some very well-known.  And very important – buses running all day long around the coast taking everyone everywhere, starting 5:30am….

That’s the good news. The bad news is that in winter Sanzhi is famous for having non-stop rain and cold.  And more rain and cold.  All winter long.  Ha ha, I can’t wait!  So I’m happy that it’s June, and that I get to see the area at its best – temps in their 30’s, with nice sea breezes.  It’s great!

So a ton of photos for you, all taken in the last month, mostly in the very early mornings, a few later in the day, and all over the area….

Ah yes, today is the last day of June, and I didn’t take my camera out this morning. So no chance for you to see the snake that was lying besides the road.  Deadly, but itself newly dead.  Long and brown.  Hmmm, so glad it wasn’t moving.

And sorry, you can’t see the kingfishers either.  They fly too fast – a streak of metallic blue going up or down the river – but know they are here!

And finally a map of part of the area…..


It’s a wonderful place, Sanzhi, do come and visit if you can.  Great neighbours, lovely people and amazing scenery!

And yes, I am still based otherwise at St. John’s University ~ and getting to know the bus service to and from Sanzhi very well!