30 Minutes To Makung:
Exploring the Gateway to the Penghu Archipelago

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By Courtney Donovan Smith

Step off the propeller plane at the Makung airport and the sense of space is overwhelming. Partly it is the low flat grassy landscape, unencumbered with the natural and unnatural obstructions that crowd Taiwan proper. No mountains loom in the distance, no factories, no skyscrapers. But mostly it is the air that lends Penghu (¼ê´ò) the sense of space - so clean, crisp and clear that your vision telescopes out and reaches to distances that are impossible on Taiwan. The disorientation is exhilarating; the feeling is of setting out on an adventure in a faraway land.

For a quick, exciting trip out of Taichung, it is hard to beat Makung. A 30 minute flight out of the Taichung Shui Nan domestic airport (¤ôÙõ¾÷³õ) and you'll find yourself on a paradise of sun, beaches, history, relaxation and really good seafood.

Whether you plan to just get away alone to clear your head (and lungs) or you want a romantic place to take a loved one (with or without progeny) - the NT$3000 price of the round-trip ticket is well worth it (see 'Compass Points' listings in the back for complete flight times).

There is quite a bit to do and see in the Penghu Archipelago, but the city of Makung is usually the starting point. In a later issue we will bring you more details on the rest of Penghu.

From the airport, the taxi costs NT$300 to get into town (flat rate). In town, one would be advised to get a vehicle - especially if you have any plans of leaving Makung city.
Happily, vehicle rental places are all over Penghu (see map for a sampling). Motorcycles can be rented for a few hundred NT$, and cars for about NT$1300 and up. Be sure to remember your driver's license, the Penghu police are curiously strict on traffic violations. Considering that Penghu is largely crime-free, I suppose that makes sense.

Within the city, one can consider walking to get around. Makung has a different feeling than other Taiwanese cities. The streets are cleaner, the shops smaller and the pace slower - vaguely reminiscent of Okinawa. There are more people roaming the streets, sometimes little packs of tourists giggling and smiling.

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