An encounter with the Ring of Fire : Southern Taiwan

- By Shounak Mondal   .   April 26, 2018   .   


Southern Taiwan - This is an escapade to a beautiful land full of natural wonders. Amongst the beautiful scenes of Taiwan there lurks nature's power which is unleashed once in a while. This is the story of the beauty of Taiwan and an encounter with the "Ring of Fire"


There are multiple flights to Taiwan’s to two major cities : Taipei and Kaohsiung. I chose to land in Taipei (Taoyuan airport ) and take the bus from there to High Speed Rail ( HSR ) station which takes about fifteen minutes to reach. Then take I took the HSR train to Zuoying , which is about 1.5 hour high speed train ride. Then I took Kaoshiung city metros ( connected from Zuoying station ) to reach my hotel

At the pretty Kaohsiung harbour, climb steps to the ex British Consulate, and see the picturesque and magnificent scenery of the harbour inlet, sun set, and large ships. You can also take a ferry to the opposite island to go to a lighthouse

At a walkable distance from the Kaiosiung harbour area is the fisherman's wharf, there are several eating joints where you can watch the ships sail past as you sip your favourite drink , listening to music or a live band. A really nice evening well spent in Kaohsiung


Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, "The Marble Gorge". The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean. As the sediment collected, it was subject to increasingly large amounts of pressure which eventually hardened it into limestone. Over the past 100 million years, tectonic compression between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate supplied additional pressure that metamorphosed the limestone into marble. Uplifting forces from the plate collision pushed this rock above the surface of the ocean to where we see it today. The region is still being uplifted by approximately 0.5 cm per year.


Chihsingtan Beach in Hualien


 Baolai is near Kaohsiung and is famous for hot springs and trails and hikes along a river


Kenting is Taiwan's oldest and southernmost national park

Back to Kaohsiung on a regular working day for me. So far the work assignment has been going good. Although there are  twists and turns and some pressure at work , in general it is a rewarding experience of working in Taiwan. All interaction with my client is done through our translator Betty. Every once in a while however , we don't need translation as we discover commonalities in the language of culture. One day before go live of the over hall of the entire banking system of my client everyone is anxious and we cross check to ensure everything is in place for go live. And then it hits upon us that this is not the time to be anxious - its the perfect time to calm down and pray - the entire team consisting of Indians and Taiwanese decide to go to a near by temple to seek the almighty's blessings for a successful go live implementation. '

It was a Thursday . I walk back home with Bonnie after a day's work. Bonnie and I were sharing an apartment for our work assignment . We walk through the city center park at Kaohsiung. A few people were practicing the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi . Their movements were slow but rhythmic and in harmony with the music . "Its such a fairy tale city. don't you think ? " - I say to Bonnie. "Yes, Kaohsiung is a bit different from Taipei" - he acknowledged.

As we walk through the front of the city library , I hear an odd sound to my right. It was coming from a phone booth , which was about ten yards away. It must have been made out of a tin like material as the sound was like vibrating tin. It grew louder by the second. "What is that ?" - I said. Bonnie had a puzzled look on his face. Then we notice a bunch of screaming people run out of the library and rush through the wide stairs to come to the podium of the city center. As we were trying to contemplate what was unfolding, my head started spinning and I felt dizzy. Something odd was happening to me. It felt as if I was losing my orientation. I looked down on the ground and then I knew what was happening. I looked at my legs and the ground where I was standing was moving - swaying by about a feet from one side to another ! An earthquake - shouted Bonnie. We had no idea what was best to do, we were paralyzed and stood still hoping that the ground below us would not crack open. Then it was gone. It lasted for about 10 seconds and then then was silence and calm. It was over. We continued to walk back home. The city was not like a fairy tale anymore. Traffic jams, people rushing home. We reached home to discover bottles and books scattered on the floor and  a broken bathroom mirror which had fallen to the floor. That night was a long night. There were tremors late at night as well. I got very little sleep as I felt completely helpless and at the total mercy of nature, at the mercy of the ring of fire.

The Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.[1] It is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt. The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates .Taiwan is one of the countries through which the Ring of Fire passes.


Written By Shounak Mondal

Lives in Hong Kong. Avid traveler ( 30+ countries and counting ), amateur photographer and writer Discovers purpose and meaning in life through travel.


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Shounak Mondal

Lives in Hong Kong. Avid traveler ( 30+ countries and counting ), amateur photographer and writer Discovers purpose and meaning in life through travel.


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