TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As the year 2017 comes to a close, it is time to look back at the most popular articles on Taiwan News in terms of web traffic this year.
In 2017, readers of Taiwan News were most captivated by stories about new visa waivers, a new night market, the new Airport MRT, fires in illegal structures, torrential rain, cultural differences, ransomeware, superstitions, and the death of a tycoon.
Philippine passport. (Flickr user Wellingtonstravel)
In April 12, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced starting on June 1, Philippine citizens will be granted visa-free access for 14 days at a time to Taiwan.
The move was made to encourage more tourists from countries in South and Southeast Asia to visit Taiwan, as part of the government’s “New Southbound Policy,” which aims to forge closer trade and economic ties with South and Southeast Asian nations.
However, due to numerous delays, including the Battle of Marawi between ISIS and Philippine government security forces, which started in May, the policy was not officially implemented until on Nov. 1. Since then, Taiwan has seen triple digit growth from the Philippines.
Sign advertising Sing Ren Garden Night Market. (Sing Ren Garden Night Market Facebook)
After four years of being in the works, the Sing Ren Garden Night Market (興仁花園夜市) officially opened on June 10 in New Taipei's Shulin District (樹林區), becoming the biggest night market in northern Taiwan.
Covering a total area of 4.95 hectares, 400 vendors marched into the Sing Ren Night Market. The market features traditional Taiwanese street food, exotic cuisine and trendy clothing stands.
A large playground area has been provided for children and every vendor is requested to provide filtered water, environment-friendly chopsticks and dissoluble plastic bags.
Passengers disembark from Airport MRT train. (CNA image)
After 20 years of planning, construction and testing, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line (桃園機場捷運) officially opened for operations on Mar. 2, with a discount of 50 percent off for fares during the first month, according to Taoyuan Metro Corp.
The normal ticket prices kicked in on April 2. The base fare for the line is NT$30 (a little less than US$1), while the highest priced ticket price is from the Taipei Main Station to the airport at NT$160.
Two foreign students died in a fourth floor rooftop apartment in Shihlin District after a fire broke out in the apartment on Chengde road on Aug. 10. at around 7 p.m.
Upon receiving the report of a blaze, the Shihlin branch of the Taipei Fire Department dispatched 15 vehicles, three ambulances and 58 rescue and paramedic personnel to the scene. They found the bodies of one man and one woman burned beyond recognition at 8.30 pm.
The apartment, located at number 85 Chengde Road Section 4, was described as an unauthorized rooftop add-on with a metal exterior and wooden interior. According to the firefighters, the construction of rooftop apartment could easily catch fire, which would be exacerbated by the corrugated metal walls. They added that when a fire breaks out in such makeshift metal structures, occupants can quickly be consumed by the smoke and flames.
Since this fire and numerous other tragic fires in illegal rooftop add-on apartments this year, both Taipei City and New Taipei City governments have pledged to demolish 290,000 illegal structures.
Road destroyed by mudslide from torrential rain in New Taipei City. (CNA image)
Taiwan was hit on June 2 by the strongest plum rain front New Taipei City and many areas of northern Taiwan have seen in 21 years, resulting so far in two deaths, one missing and five injured, and as yet unmeasured amounts of damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.
The biblical quantities of rain, in excess of 600 mm (over two feet) in some areas, caused the suspension of flights from Songshan Airport, extensive delays at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, disruptions in rail traffic, the closures of offices and schools from K-12 and universities, the destruction of roads and bridges, flooding at the National Palace Museum, and the toppling of a transmission tower at Taiwan's Nuclear Power Plant No. 1.
Author with friend wearing masks in Taipei in 1997. (Taiwan News)
A Facebook user in the group Foreigners in Taiwan (外國人在台灣) on July 27 posted a document which was dated 2000 listing the many humorous ways a foreigner knows they have lived in Taiwan for probably too long.
The list had originally circulated via email among English teachers who would add to it and post it in staff rooms for laughs during the 1990s. The Facebook user, who has been a resident of Taiwan for nearly twenty years, had not modified it since the 2000 version, so there are some aspects that may need updating to include the advent of social media and smartphones. Nevertheless, most of these points will probably still resonate with many foreigners that have lived in Taiwan for several years.
You know you've been a foreigner in Taiwan too long when...
1. You can order the entire McDonald's menu in Chinese.
2. You decide it makes more sense to drive a motorcycle instead of a car.
3. More than one garment has been ruined by betel nut spit.
4. Someone doesn't stare at you and you wonder why.
5. You look both ways before crossing the sidewalk.
Investigators visit the scene of Leslie Koo's accident. (CNA image)
Taipei City’s Regent Hotel was slammed on Jan. 24 for alleged safety violations in the wake of the death of Taiwan Cement Corporation Chairman Leslie Koo.
The tycoon died Monday morning after having fallen down a staircase at the hotel following a wedding on the evening of Jan. 21.
With prosecutors inspecting the scene Tuesday afternoon, reports said that the staircase where the accident happened should have had a railing in the middle because it was wider than 3 meters.
The hotel said it was willing to cooperate with official demands, and pointed out that each step on the staircase had anti-slip strips while staff was assigned to help visitors. Out of respect for the deceased, it would refrain from further comments, hotel officials said.
On May 4, a Taiwanese netizen emailed the helpline of ThunderCrypt ransomware after his PC got infected, and said that he only makes $400 monthly, and he couldn't afford the 0.345 bitcoin he was asked to pay. He later got decrypted by the helpline because they thought they have largely overestimated the nation's income.
A Breaking News Commune (爆料公社) member posted images of email correspondence between a netizen and an apparent representative of the ransomware ThunderCrypt on May 15. The netizen was asked to pay 0.345 bitcoins after the ransomware locked down all the files on his infected computer, he wrote an email to the customer service with title “I only make US$400 a month, you really wanna do this to me?” saying that he could not afford the ransom to decrypt his computer.
ThunderCrypt responded to his message and told the netizen that they have switched it to decryption mode and will start to unlock his computer automatically soon. It also admitted that their Taiwanese campaign was a failure because they “largely overestimated” the average income of the nation.
According to Chinese mythology, this year's “ghost month ”lasted from Aug 22 to September 19. The ghost month is a month when spirits from the lower realm supposedly roam around the world of the living.
The ghost month is the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Most of the Chinese consider the month as an unlucky month and therefore will avoid scheduling major events such as weddings and business deals in this particular month to keep bad things from happening.
As the ghost month begins on the first day of the seventh lunar month, the gates of the hell are opened and an army of hungry ghosts come out to haunt the living, eat good food, drink rice wine and collect ghost money, which is offered by the living by burning the ghost money, according to Chinese mythology.
Some of things Taiwan News listed to avoid during month included:
- Don’t repair your house because the ghosts are apparently looking to mess up things that are being fixed or repaired.
- Don’t move into a new home.
- Don’t enter into new relationships.
- Avoid breaking up with your current significant other as it may lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
- Couples should avoid getting married as your marriage may not last long.
Leslie Cheng-yun Koo. (CNA image)
Taiwan Cement Corp. (TCC, 台泥) chairman and president Leslie Cheng-yun Koo (辜成允) died on the morning of Jan. 23 from injuries sustained after tumbling down a flight of stairs two days earlier.
While attending a wedding banquet at the Regent Taipei, the 62-year-old business mogul fell down a flight of stairs sustaining life-threatening injuries, and was immediately rushed to neighboring Mackay Memorial Hospital for emergency treatment.
Koo had suffered severe head trauma and was placed in an intensive care unit at Mackay Hospital, before later being transferred to Cheng Hsin Hospital. According according to TCC, the flagship subsidiary of TCC Group, he died from his injuries at 6:20 a.m.
After serving as the general manager of TCC since 1991, the Board of Directors elected him as the chairman of the enterprise in 2003. During his tenure as chairman, Koo greatly advanced the public image of TCC by reorganizing the company, improving operational efficiency, and attacking the mainland cement industry, while placing much greater emphasis on environmental protection.