FROM THE EARTH!
Hengchun's Flame Wonders
---By John Matthews Translated
by Annie Liu
Just East of Hengchun Town, Pingtung
County. Follow Country Route 200 for approximately 1-2
There is evidence of geothermal activity
of one kind or another throughout most of Taiwan. From
great depths beneath the Earth's crust, we see it heat
spring-fed waters to the boiling point or great pools
of mud into a roiling, bubbling mass stewing in the
tropical heat. Another marvel of this type can be witnessed
just a short drive by car or motorcycle east of Hengchun
town in Pingtung County.
Take country route 200 east out of
Hengchun, and a mere kilometer beyond the old city walls
you can observe what is known as Flame Wonders or Gas
Fire. This modest tourist site (north side of route
200) is home to an unusual natural phenomenon. In a
field surrounded by low hills and a stream sits a tiny
enclosure where a natural gasses seep out from underground
vents, creating a cluster of small flames and glowing
This site is preserved and marked as
"ecological fact/natural scenery" on an English
map published by the Pingtung County Government called
'Pingtung Images'. They call it "Flame Wonders".
While another map titled 'Hengchun Peninsula Easy Go'
(also in English) and published by the Dapeng Bay Tourism
Bureau lists the site under a category titled "Natural
Landscape". They mark the site as "Gas Fire".
Either way, it is remarkable when you
consider the fun to be had if you bring along a meal
to cook out in the natural and open pit. You can also
buy these goods from any number of vendors situated
along the road, ready to sell you tinfoil-wrapped popcorn,
potatoes and meat. They even have a variety of fireworks
for sale. On any given weekend you will find a local
selling such items on site, and sharing with you (in
Chinese only) the local stories and tales of superstition
surrounding the phenomenon known as Flame Wonders/Gas