Mon, Oct 02, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Thousands join festival swim across Sun Moon Lake

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Participants gather at Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County to participate in the Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival held yesterday.

PHOTO: LIAO YAO-TUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Some 22,000 people participated in a swim across Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) yesterday morning -- one of the major events marking the start of this year's annual Sun Moon Lake Festival.

Participants swam from one side of the lake to the other, a distance of about 3,300m. Most completed the swim in between one and two hours.

While most of the participants were Taiwanese, 203 foreigners joined the event as well. Swimmers ranged in age from 10 to 82.

Organizers ordered the huge crowds to slip into the lake in batches. Due to safety concerns, organizers mobilized more than 300 lifeguards for the event, who stood on floating platforms every 50m along the route. Some rubber dinghies were also available to pick up swimmers who couldn't make it the entire way.

The annual swimming event has been held by the Nantou County Government for the past two decades. This year the event was merged into part of celebrations of the Sun Moon Lake Festival.

Lin Fang-ming (林芳明), director of Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area Administration, said that this year's festival will last 16 days and will span three weekends and two major holidays.

Lin said that the administration has arranged different events for each day, including Aboriginal dancing and singing contests, a beer event and the Nantou Black Tea Festival.

This year, the administration has added a new attraction: movies projected onto a screen of sprayed water. Lin said that a special machine will shoot lake water at high pressure into the air, where it will become a fan-shaped "screen" 24m tall and 12m wide on which films will be projected.

According to Lin, this will be Taiwan's first-ever movie screen of this type.

The administration is showing several documentaries about the legends of Sun Moon Lake and the Thao Tribe (邵族). Hollywood movies will also be shown every day.

Lin said that visitors have booked 2,000 hotel rooms in the Sun Moon Lake area. He advised those interested in attending the festival to find accommodation in Nantou County's Shuili Township(水里) or in Taichung County if they cannot find any available rooms left close to the lake.

The administration has also made travel arrangements with Green Transit Co, which will operate more than 30 shuttle buses per day between Taipei and Sun Moon Lake for the duration of the festival.

Travelers can go the bus company's Web site at www.greenbusgroup.com to download a coupon that will reduce the roundtrip ticket price from NT$830 to NT$600.

According to Lin, last year's two-week festival generated a total of NT$300 million (US$9.4 million) in revenue.

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