It has been so long in coming that some Australians won't believe it's real until they see a locomotive riding on it. \nIt's the 1,420km Alice Springs to Darwin railway line, the final stretch of a century-old dream of having steel tracks running all the way from Adelaide in the south of the continent to Darwin in the north. \nAmong the unbelievers is Tim Webb, born in 1929, the same year the service from Adelaide was extended to Alice Springs, the wellspring of Australia's Red Centre. \n"It's not just a passing fancy for me," said 72-year-old Webb. "I've been waiting a long time for this moment." \nThere's hardly been a prime minister since the creation of Australia in 1901 who hasn't promised that the rail network would run east to west and north to south. \nThe oddity is that the completion came during the government of John Howard, an arch conservative and visceral opponent of big public works programs, but who saw the project through. \nHe described the last of the welding jobs this week as the "penultimate moment in a great Australian story." \nThe final moment will come early next year when trains set out from Adelaide and Darwin to make the two-day journey. \nPublic money has made the dream come true. More than A$1.2 billion (US$800 million) has been spent on laying 2 million sleepers and dumping 2 million tonnes of ballast. \nIt was in 1858 that the idea of an Adelaide to Darwin rail line was first proposed. The notion was ridiculed by the South Australian state government. Twenty years later it had second thoughts and started work on a line running north. \nFor most of its way the latest section runs atop a small embankment over the sand ridges of the Tanami Desert. Progress has been quite amazing. Over the 18 months of construction the tracks moved towards each other at a rate of 2.2km per day. \nIt's a single line and the primary purpose is as a "land bridge" to take exports from the south of the country for shipment from Darwin to Asia and the rest of the world. Imports would run in the other direction. \nThe benefit is not just time, but also money, with a reduction in shipping going up and down Australia's east coast where the environmentally sensitive Great Barrier Reef flanks the Pacific Ocean. \nDarwin is getting ready. A A$200 million expansion of the harbor is underway. A freight rail terminal is going up nearby. \nAlso being built in the Northern Territory capital is a passenger terminal. The hope is that an extra 30,000 tourists a year will visit when they have the option of getting there on a passenger train. \nThe world famous Ghan luxury train will operate on the route. Stephen Bradford, the chief executive of Great Southern Railway, said tickets worth A$1 million had already been sold for the first few Ghan journeys. \n"There will be a lot of excited people out there waiting for these tickets," Bradford said. \n"For many, it's a journey of a lifetime, an opportunity to be part of history."
PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN TOURISM COMMISSION
Chen Wang-shi (陳罔市) doesn’t know where to go if she is forced to move. The 78-year-old Chen is an active “sea woman” (海女) in Taiwan’s easternmost fishing village of Makang (馬崗) in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). When the waves are calm, she ventures out to forage for algae, oysters and other edible marine morsels. She lives alone in the village, as her children have moved to the cities for work, returning for weekends and festivals. “I cannot get used to living in Taipei, and I feel very uncomfortable if I don’t go out to the ocean to forage. I
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
Your body is floating in a warm, blue bath, neither sinking nor rising. Sunlight shimmers on the white sand below as a sea turtle drifts by. You feel your heart beating slowly and a profound sense of calm floods your mind. The figures floating at the surface seem distant, as if from a different world. Down here, there is just you, your mind, your body, and the water. In this calm, timeless moment, you have glimpsed infinity... you are freediving. The next time you find yourself on Siaoliouciou (小琉球), or on Green Island (綠島), or at any number of popular snorkeling
A widely criticized peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility. The study, “Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study,” was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting.” The study’s conclusion was: “Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups.