Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson





Dane’efu is excited about the launch

On February 24, Taiwanese people around the world celebrated when Ang Lee, who was born in Taiwan 58 years ago, won a second Best Director Oscar, this time for Life of Pi.

Now, on May 7, 2013, comes a new website introducing the scenery, cultures, history and cuisines of Taiwan. Life of Taiwan ( has more than 150 pages of information about the East Asian island.

Tuntex Skytower (85 Tower), Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Tuntex Skytower (85 Tower), Kaohsiung, Taiwan

“International arrivals have been growing for the past decade, and we think Taiwan’s tourism industry will enjoy a big lift thanks to the success of Life of Pi, which was made right here in Taiwan” said Mark Sinclair, founder and CEO of Formosa Services, the Taiwan-based startup behind Life of Taiwan.

“We’re providing high-end tailor made tours targeting professionals and their families. There is no safer place to travel than Taiwan and as everyone who has been here knows, the Taiwanese are a very special people.”

The website covers everything from Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes and their festivals to the island’s diverse and vibrant religious culture. Gourmands can read about Taiwan’s tastiest foods, while outdoors types will discover that Taiwan has more than enough mountains, rivers and dive sites to keep them busy, plus hot springs where tired muscles can be soaked at the end of a tiring day. And if they’re not already aware of Taiwan’s treasures, birdwatchers and other kinds of ecotourist will find the website’s description of Taiwan’s spectacular natural diversity engrossing.

Chihsi plaque bearers. Kai Lung Temple, Jung Shan Road, Tainan City, Taiwan

Chihsi plaque bearers. Kai Lung Temple, Jung Shan Road, Tainan City, Taiwan

The website is gorgeously illustrated with photos taken by Michelin and Asian Geographic photographer Rich J. Matheson. Rich specializes in images of religious events and Taiwan’s aboriginal groups; his work can be seen at

The text was written by Steven Crook, author of three books about the island – Keeping Up With The War God (2001), Dos and Don’ts in Taiwan (2010) and Taiwan: The Bradt Travel Guide (2010). Steven is currently updating his Bradt guide for publication in spring 2014. Links to many of his published articles can be found at

Sandimen, Pingtung County, Taiwan

These Aboriginal women have just heard the news

For further information feel free to contact us on or call +886 6 2088173.


Interview with Reality Abroad — Part Two

Taiwan Aboriginal Dance

Taiwan Aboriginal Dance

I was interviewed by Alan for Reality Abroad, a travel website aimed at helping travelers see a country from an insiders viewpoint. He asks questions about Taiwan and photography. Here is part two. The podcast can be listened to or downloaded at Images of Taiwan-Reality Abroad.

Taiwan Aboriginal Projects 臺灣原住民14族


Click for photographs of Aboriginal festivals, everyday Aboriginal village life, Aboriginal art and artists.

Taiwanese Aboriginal Tribes

Taiwan Aboriginal
Taiwan Aboriginal

Seediq Aboriginal tribe costume, Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park, Sandimen, Pingtung County, Taiwan

The following photographs of all fourteen Taiwan Aboriginal tribes were taken at the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park in (more…)

Tea Field, Alishan

Tea Field, Chinese New Year trip, Alishan Township, Chiayi County, Taiwan
Tea Field, Chinese New Year trip, Alishan Township, Chiayi County, Taiwan

Tea field at high noon

Every Chinese New Year my wife and her family take a trip up to Alishan to visit her mother’s side of the family. Alas’ father was a Bunong from Taoyuan, Kaohsiung and, after his first wife died without bearing any children, he trekked up to Alishan to find a new wife. Near what is now Le Ye ( 樂野), he found a 14 year old Chou tribeswoman who he brought back to Namasia, married and had 11 children with. Now there are few remaining relatives from her generation but we still visit her younger brother’s partner who lives near these tea fields. I try to photograph the tea most years but it is usually high noon when we are there and the tea leaves specular highlights are uncontrollable. I don’t mind specular highlights blowing out, but when a whole field blows out it becomes objectionable. I did an HDR shot this year which controlled the highlights to a useable level. (more…)

Liuchongsi Pingpu Night Sacrifice

The Liuchongsi Pingpu Night Sacrifice was an excellent festival that I felt privileged to attend. There were few outsiders present (although everybody is welcome) and the festival had a small homey feel to it. The full article explaining the proceedings is HERE.

A wangyi performs a libation on the sacrificial pig during the Liuchongsi Night Sacrifice in Tainan.

Xiaolin Pingpu Night Sacrifice

In an earlier post I said that I would write more about the Xiaolin Pingpu Night Sacrifice. Here it is, click this link.
Taiwan Culture Portal – 02 November 2011

Half my life in Taiwan!

My lovely Bunun Wife, Alas, on our land in Namasia

I came to Taiwan via Australia, Indonesia (overland from East Timor to Jakarta by cargo ship, Pelni, little boats, Bemos and hitch-hiking), Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and then Taipei for a week, before settling in Tainan. I spent my 20th birthday riding out to some little village in the county with BJ, then got hopped up on betel nut and beer at night. Today I spent a quiet 40th birthday in Tainan. I wouldn’t have guessed I would still be here with two lovely children and a beautiful wife twenty years later, but I am glad I am!

Tainan Plains Aborigine Night Ceremony

Yes, this could easily be misunderstood. An explanation of this venerable Plains Aboriginal Ceremony held in Tainan is forthcoming.

Xiang Zhu (向竹) Magic Bamboo Totem

Wulipu, Jiaxian District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

Xiang Zhu 向竹 or “Magic Bamboo” — a Plains Aborigine totem. At the Siaolin Plains Aborigine Night Ceremony I was told the seven rungs of straw attached to the bamboo represent the steps to heaven. I had  previously heard they represent the seven sisters worshiped as Taizu 太祖, a Plains Aboriginal Goddess.