January 7, 2009

Hot Springs in Taiwan

Located on the seismic zone that rings the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan abounds with volcanic topography and geothermal energy. These are necessary for sulfur springs. What’s more, the metamorphic and sedimentary rock on the either side of the Central Mountain Range are full of minerals which react with hydrogen carbonate ions, which is necessary for carbonated springs. All told, there are over 100 hot springs of various kinds around the island. There are also very few cold springs. But Taiwan is endowed with hot springs, cold springs, murky hot springs, and seabed hot springs. In response to the government’s call to publicize the beauty of Taiwan’s hot springs so as to encourage citizens to take vacations, promote tourism and stimulate the economy, Chunghwa Post has chosen four different types of springs in four famous scenic locations as a set of four stamps on hot springs in Taiwan. The stamps feature the Yangmingshan Hot Springs, the Suao Cold Springs, the Guanziling Murky Hot Springs and the Green Island Seabed Hot Springs. On the upper left corner of each stamp is a teardrop-shaped window with the picture of a local landmark or vista. The main designs of the stamps feature images of people soaking in the springs, thus showing the pleasure involved. In the lower left corner of each stamp is a symbol that denotes hot springs.

1) Yangmingshan Hot Springs (NT$5): Most hot springs here are sulfur springs, with a temperature ranging between 60° to 70°C. This water is for bathing only. Approach Yangmingshan through Yangde Boulevard and then take the Yang-Jin Highway. Along the highway, many signs indicate previous volcanic activity. The landscapes of Siaoyoukeng and Sulfur Valley fumaroles are the spots that are well worth a stop. A picture of these fumaroles is found in the teardrop-shaped window on the upper left corner of the stamp.

2) Suao Cold Springs (NT$5): It rains a lot in the Suao area, and rainwater percolates down into the earth’s crust to a depth of about 2,000 meters, reaching cracks in the slate. Then, as a result of tectonic movement, the carbonate content in the rocks dissolves and releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, making the underground water bubbly and pushing it to the surface in the form of carbonated cold springs. The springs here are used for drinking as well as bathing. The temperature of the water is about 22°C. The design of the stamp includes Cold Springs Park and Nanfangao Bridge.

Nanfangao Bridge was inaugurated in June, 1998. The bridge connects Su-Ao Port and Nan-Fang-Ao. The single-arch suspension bridge has special fish, shrimp and crab designs on the bridge column that symbolize the ocean. There is also a landscape platform for tourists to overlook vessels in and out of the fishing port.

3) Guanziling Murky Hot Springs (NT$10): The rising spring water here brings minerals, salt and mud particles with them when it goes through the mudstone layers below the surface, making the spring water look murky and even black. Therefore, it is also known in Chinese as the Black Hot Spring. This is an alkaline carbonate spring, of a temperature about 75°C. This water is for bathing only. Featured in the teardrop-shaped window on the upper left corner of the stamp is a photo of the famous ShueiHuoTongYuan (which means “where water and fire spring from the same source”). The reason for this spectacular phenomenon is that spring water and natural gas are both coming out of the cliff surface at Mt. Jhentou, so that when the gas is lit, you get water and fire together.

4) Green Island Seabed Hot Springs (NT$25): The hot springs here rise out of groups of rocks and reefs along the shore. The temperature of these acidic sulfur springs ranges between 53° to 93°C. The water has a high salt content and is undrinkable. The teardrop-shaped window in the upper left corner features the island’s most famous landmark: the Green Island Lighthouse.

Stamp Issue: 2003-12-14

January 6, 2009

Taiwan Scenery

Taiwan is a long, narrow island oriented in a north-south direction. Situated on the southeastern side of the Asian continent, on the island arc of East Asia, it occupies a pivotal link for transportation within the Asia-Pacific region. With air links in all directions, it is very convenient for traveling. The topography of Taiwan is very complex and diverse, and there is an abundance of dramatic scenery, including mountains, craggy hills, plains, basins, islands, longitudinal valleys and seacoasts. What’s more, with the Tropic of Cancer passing through the middle of Taiwan, there are tropical, subtropical and temperate ecosystems, and the resulting biodiversity constitutes a great resource for tourism. To promote the beauty of Taiwan to people abroad, Chunghwa Post has specially chosen four famous scenic spots for a set of Taiwan Scenery Postage Stamps.

1) Taichung’s Chungshan Park (NT$5): Built in 1903, it is also called Taichung Park. It has an area of 10.5 hectares. The graceful classical-styled Huhsin Pavilions in the park’s lake are its most representative feature. Their red roofs and snow-white walls resemble two bamboo hats. Among the most famous landmarks of Taichung City, these are great places for Taichung residents to relax.

Chungchen Bridge is a small stone arch bridge in Taichung’s Chungshan Park. 

2) Ilan’s Dongshan River (NT$5): The Dongshan River, which has been straightened, is Ilan’s fifth largest river and one of the county’s most renowned scenic spots. Apart from the scenery along the river, the arched bridge spanning the river and its reflection in the water (which serve as a symbol for the Cingshuei Water Park) also provide beautiful vistas.

Lizegane Bridge crosses the Dongshan River. 

3) Tianliao’s 'Moonscape'(NT$11): These 'badland' have been formed by years of strong rain and river erosion, which have washed away the soft, blue-gray and slightly salty mudstone to leave this barren and rugged 'moonscape.

4) Chenggong’s Sansiantai (NT$20): Sansiantai (Terrace of the Three Immortals) is a coral reef island with lots of huge rocks on land and coral reefs in the sea around it. With an area of about three hectares, the island is connected to Taiwan proper by a beautiful 320-meter-long footbridge.

Stamp Issue: 2003-10-28

January 5, 2009

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace or Yi he yuan 'Garden of Nurtured Harmony' is a palace in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In its compact 70,000 square meters of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures. In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List.

1. Shiqikong Bridge (Seventeen-Arch Bridge)
2. Long Corridor
3. The Marble Boat
4. Garden of Harmonious Interests
5. Yudai Bridge (Jade Belt Bridge)
6. Back Lake

Shiqi Kong Qiao (Seventeen-Arch Bridge)
Built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1750), this 150-meter bridge links the east bank and the South Lake Island. It is the longest bridge in any Chinese imperial garden and was named for its seventeen arches. Over 500 stone lions in different poses are carved on the posts of the bridge's railings. At both ends of the bridge are carved four strange animals. Strong and powerful, they are outstanding evidence of Qing stone carving. 

Yudai Qiao (Jade Belt Bridge)
Built during Emperor Qianlong's reign (1736-1795), this high and thin bridge was named Jade Belt Bridge because its body and railings are made of gray white or white marbles which combine to resemble a jade belt. Under the bridge, the Kunming Lake inlet led to Yu River. When the emperors and empresses went by boat from the Garden of Clear Ripples to Jade Spring Hills, they would pass under this bridge.

Stamp Issue: 2008-05-10

Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze River Bridge

The Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Highway Bridge, located between Suzhou and Nantong in Jiangsu Province and with a total length of 32.4 km, is the largest and most complicated bridge project in China's bridge-building history. Programmed by the Ministry of Communications of China, it is an important passage for national arterial highways to bridge over the Yangtze River, as well as an integral component of the highway framework of Jiangsu Province. This cable-stayed bridge has the world's longest span, deepest foundation, highest tower and longest cable. It is of great significance to perfecting the arterial highway networks of Jiangsu and the country at large, promoting the overall development in areas along the Yangtze River and improving shipping safety in the Yangtze River.

Stamp Issue: 2008-04-12

Ancient Bridges of China

The four ancient Chinese bridges shown on the maxicards are all arch bridges. They are located in Suzhou of Jiangsu, Linying County of Henan, Beijing, and Jianshui County of Yunnan respectively.

The Maple Bridge in Suzhou,(1st constructed between the 6th-9th c.). The bridge viewed from alongside the watchtower. Hanshan Temple was built to the west of Suzhou where three canals intersect; one being the famous Grand Canal. At this junction, there is a bridge called the Maple Bridge (Fengqiao), which dates back at least to the Tang dynasty, as there is a well-known poem by the Tang poet, Zhang Ji, entitled, 'Mooring to the Maple Bridge at Night'. On Chinese New Years Eve, people gather at the bridge to hear the bells of Hanshan Temple, as described in the poem.

XiaoShang  Bridge, a stone arch bridge,is the oldest stone arch bridge in the world, called 'the most beautiful ancient bridge', and prior to Zhaozhou Bridge. It once was identified by famous experts, such as Mao YiSheng, Luo  Zhewen.  The bridge has highly research value and is in fit for sightseeing.

The Lugou Bridge, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, is a famous stone bridge located 15 km outside of the Beijing city center across the Yongding River a main tributary of Hai River.
Construction of the original bridge on this site commenced in 1189 and was completed in 1192 and was later reconstructed in 1698. The Lugou Bridge is 266.5 m (874 ft) in length and 9.3 m (30.5 ft) in width, supported on 10 piers and 11 segmental arches. Hundreds of artistically unique stone lions from different eras line both sides of the bridge. The most intriguing feature of these beasts is the fact that there are more lions hiding on the head, back or under the belly or on paws of each of the big lions. Investigations to determine the total number of animals have been carried out on several occasions but the results have proved inconsistent, ranging anywhere from 482 to 496. However, record has it that there were originally a total of 627 lions. The posture of each lion varies, as do their ages. Most date from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, some are from the earlier Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368); while the few lions dating from as long ago as the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) are now quite rare.

Shuanglong (Double Dragon) Bridge is five kilometers west of Jianshui, its arches across the confluence of the Lujiang River and the Tachong River. A combination of science and art, the stone bridge ranks first in Yunnan Province in terms of size and artistic value. When the bridge was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing dynasty, it had only three arches on the north end. Later on, as the Tachong River changed its course, fourteen new bridge arches were added to the original ones and thus got the name 'the Seventeen - Arch Bridge'. A pavilion of three stories was built in the middle, and two others at the two ends of the bridge. With seventeen arches, the pavilion-style Double Dragon Bridge is a Qing Dynasty masterpiece and one of the best examples of its type in China. It is also, by the by, surrounded by some fairly butt-ugly buildings and required some degree of mucking about in the fields to get this shot. Shuanglong Bridge is a masterpiece among ancient bridges in China. It is considered one of the beautifully built ancient bridge of the nation, and has been classified as an important cultural relic under provincial protection. Shuanglong Bridge is a nice surprise on the road. Under the lingering caress of the setting sun, the ancient stone bridge spans over 140 meters and was constructed with over ten thousand huge rocks boulders. A continuous fourteen arches helps the bridge to alleviate pressures brought by occasional floods.

Stamp Issue: 2003-03-29

Wuhu Yangtze River Bridge

The Wuhu Bridge over the Yangtze River, a stayed-cable bridge for both highway and railway, is the first and largest of its kind designed independently by Chinese engineers. The Bridge, a key State-level project in the Ninth Five-Year Plan period, was constructed with joint investment by the Ministry of Railway and the Provincial Government of Anhui, and was put into operation in September 2000, after three-and-half years of construction. The bridge has a 10,624m long railway part and a 6,078m long highway part, with a main span of 312 meters. With a lot of advanced technologies adopted in the design work, this original bridge is a symbolic project of China's dual-purpose bridge construction in the 20th Century. Completing the railway and highway networks of eastern China, it bore great importance to the expansion of cargo and passenger transportations across the Yangtze River as well as to the economic development of the entire eastern China, especially Anhui Province.

Stamp Issue: 2001-09-20

January 4, 2009

Highway Bridges over the Yangtze River

Wanxian Highway Bridge is a reinforced concrete arch bridge built over the Yangtze River in 1995. It is located in the vicinity of the Three Gorges Dam in Wanxian, Chongqing, China. Its arch is 420 metres and it is 864 m in length. During the bridge construction, a concrete-filled tubular arch truss frame was built to support the weight of the concrete arch and embedded into the concrete arch. The Wanxian Bridge is longest existing concrete arch bridge in the world. It is a major highway bridge with lanes for vehicles and pedestrians.

Huangshi Highway Bridge is a cantilever bridge. The total length of  is 2,580m. Main span 245m (162.5+3×245+162.5)m continuous box girder.

Tongling Highway Bridge is a prestressed concrete cable stayed bridge with double towers and double cable planes. The total length of  is 2,592m (80+90+190+432+190+90+80)m. This bridge was built up and opened to traffic on December 26th, 1995, and won China Construction Engineering Luban Prize in 2000.

Jiangyin Highway Bridge is the most seaward suspension bridge to cross the Yangtze River of China. The concrete towers are 190 metres tall, roughly equivalent in height to a 60 story building. It connects the cities of Jiangyin and Jingjiang. The main span of the bridge is 1,385 metres long, making it the sixth-longest span suspension bridge in the world and the largest in China at the time of its completion in 1999. The bridge opened on September 28, 1999. 

Stamp Issue: 2000-03-26