FYI SOUTH Magazine, July 2006.


--By Dawn Reid Translated by Annie Liu

Next time someone says "go jump off a cliff" your response can be: "Sure, if you're paying for it!" Even better is the fact that it's neither difficult, nor that expensive to enjoy paragliding in south Taiwan. For NT$1250 you can get a pilot to take you on a 20-minute (depending on conditions) tandem flight. Two such pilots are Mr. Su (0912 174 174 - Chinese only) and Sunny (0955 127 572 - speaks decent English); they are both qualified and experienced, love being in the air and are actively trying to get more people involved in this exciting pastime.

Tandem flights are very safe and don't take any training as you are fully looked after. If you want to learn to fly on your own however, you will need to go through a training course. Mr. Su and Sunny can help you with this too, or at least put you on the right path. English-speakers can also contact long-time Kaohsiung County resident, and flying enthusiast, Jaco Herbst (0961 069 721) for more information on tandem flights and becoming a pilot.

Exciting as it may be, paragliding is also one of the most relaxing and scenic adventure sports there is and its readily available every weekend, weather permitting. Taiwan offers almost ideal flying conditions and there are many jump sites. Closest to Kaohsiung is Sai Chia, east of Pingtung. The pilots will happily provide you with detailed directions to the landing zone. Once you get there ask the locals how to get up to the launch site, or simply head up the hill through a brown arch, take the second left to the very top and you're made it. To get down put on a helmet, strap yourself in and run.

For more information on flying in Taiwan visit, www.wingstaiwan.com. (Also have a look at www.ushga.org, for information on international standards.)

Basic directions:
From Pingtung, take Highway 27 heading northeast.
In the small town of Taisan, turn left at the main crossroads then stay to your right. Cross the small Kuangfu Bridge, the mountain will be on your left. Turn left immediately after the bridge and follow the winding road to a fork.
Look out for the landing zone on your left.