I first heard of Phil Dawson via his brother Stuart Dawson, the author of the blog Hiking Taiwan. Both of them have lived in Taiwan for years; they fell in love with Taiwan and plan to live in Taiwan for years to come. They both write blogs which introduce Taiwan to the world and have helped many English speakers explore Taiwan. Their passion resonates the mission of LittlePo Adventures and I am happy to get to know them.
Phil recently launched an iPhone/iPad app, Taipei Uncovered, aiming to provide an easy and comprehensive guide for westerners to discover the most underrated Asian city. Even though Taipei is an international city, as a native of Taiwan, I can see how it’s easy for a non-Mandarin speaker to quickly get lost among the confusing road signs. It’ll be nice to have a handy tool.
I had a chance to play with the app. The interface is easy to navigate and the first edition includes a good list of highlights of Taipei. The sight description certainly reveals personal touches but does not lose objectivity.
There are a few nice features about this app which stood out for me:
1. Each entry includes its Chinese name in Chinese characters
I have seen too many English maps and tour books fail to include the Chinese names in Chinese characters. Even though they do include either pinyin or whatever romanization ways to spell out the location names, they are not useful when you have to ask locals for directions. None of the romanization ways can convey the accurate pronunciation, pointing to Chinese characters for a non-Mandarin speaker might be the last resort.
2. You can sort entries based on Distance and District
This way all the nearby attractions are shown in a cluster. It helps me plan a day trip especially if I want to cut down as much as possible transition time on transportation.
3. Photos are used as Index
The app includes a slideshow feature. Users can browse through feature photos and read further information about the sight if interested.
A few things I hope to be included in future updates:
1. Make the search feature to search the whole content
Current search feature seems to only search for defined keywords. For example, when I typed in “stinky tofu,” it yielded no results. However, when I searched for “tofu,” three entries showed up.
2. Include more sights in Festivals or create a new Culture category
Taipei is a very special city. It’s a mixture of the modern and the vintage; the outdoors and the technology. Taipei Uncovered has done a good job including hip locations, museums, temples, and historical sites. I’d love to push the bar higher by suggesting them to include more cultural events, such as Ghost Festival (中元節), Zi Teng Lu (紫籐廬), Xia Hai Cheng Huang Temple (霞海城隍廟) etc.
Bottom line: This is a handy tool. I recommend using this guide together with a subway map available at any Taipei MRT station.
Phil Dawson has kindly offered five redeem codes for friends of LittlePo Adventures to enjoy Taipei Uncovered. Become a friend of LittlePo Adventures on facebook, write on the wall or leave a comment on the link. We will message the redeem code to you.