A man surnamed Hou last year accomplished the impressive feat of walking all the way around Taiwan — a distance of 1,300km — in 35 days. However, on reaching home safe and sound, Hou discovered that he had been served a NT$30,000 fine for entering the historic Alangyi Trail within Pingtung County’s Syuhai Guanyin Cape Nature Reserve without a permit. Hou took issue with the fine, which was administered by Pingtung County Government, arguing that the signage in the area was unclear, causing him to accidentally stray onto the off-limits trail. Hou launched an appeal to have the fine withdrawn, but Pingtung District Court ruled against Hou.
Hou said he struck out on a clockwise walking tour of Taiwan at the end of February last year. He said that on March 28 he was continuing southward along the established coastal path after leaving Nantian Village in Taitung County’s Daren Township. Hou said the weather was overcast with drizzle and he did not see any signage that prohibited use of the path. He added that there were no gates or other paraphernalia that signified restricted access.
Hou said he suddenly encountered someone who identified themselves as working for the nature reserve and asked Hou to show his ID. Hou said he cooperated throughout the process and told the worker he was unaware that he had to apply in advance to enter the nature reserve, but that on returning home he discovered that he had been fined NT$30,000 by Pingtung County Government.
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報記者蔡宗憲
Pingtung County Government said that the Syuhai Guanyin Cape was designated as a nature reserve in 2012 and over 45,000 people apply for an entry permit every year; furthermore the media frequently report on the area, making it one of the best-known scenic spots in the country. A spokesperson for the government added that there is obvious signage in addition to guard posts installed at the entrances to both ends of the only trail within the reserve, but Hou had ignored the signs and trespassed into the area, paying no heed to the warnings. The spokesperson added that the government issued a fine for a breach of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, which allows for a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, and that the minimum fine of NT$30,000 was imposed in this instance because Hou was a first-time offender.
(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)
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