Angry balloon set to fly
A hot air balloon in the form of a character from the hit computer game Angry Birds is to make its world debut in Taitung County at a hot air balloon festival, the event organizers said yesterday. The idea of “a huge red bird truly flying in the sky” will finally come true at the two-month Taiwan Balloon Festival, which set to open today and is schedule to run until Aug. 11, the Taitung County Government said. However, the nearly 25m high balloon, made from about 2.5km of nylon fabric and 24km2 of thread is only due to stay in Taiwan until June 25, before being displayed in Germany, the government said. Benedict Savio, chief executive officer of Global Media Box, which owns the balloon, is leading a team to Taiwan that will pilot the balloon, the organizers said. The volume of the balloon is nearly 3,000m3, “enough to contain approximately half a million fist-sized Angry Birds,” according to the maker, Cameron Balloons.
New app to guide tourists
The state-funded Institute for Information Industry has launched a mobile application on tourism that aims to provide specially tailored travel packages for visitors. The “Smart Tourism Taiwan” app integrates information from travel agents and government departments that can make it easier for tourists to get around and improve their stay, the institute said in a statement. The app, available on Android and iOS systems, can keep tourists up to date on the weather, transportation schedules and exchange rates and suggest day tours that include major attractions, popular delicacies and souvenir shopping. It also has an interactive feature that can tailor recommendations based on where users plan to be, when they plan to travel and the amount of time they have for a trip, the institute said. After users input their interests and schedule, the app can recommend the most suitable activities, it added.
Japan releases vessel
A Taiwanese fishing boat that was detained by Japanese authorities on Wednesday for trespassing in waters south of Japan’s Yaeyama Islands has been released and its captain has also been freed after being fined, the Fisheries Agency said yesterday. The 45-tonne Yi Sheng No. 12 from Yilan County was released at 12:48pm on Thursday, the agency said. The fishing boat was suspected of having strayed beyond the area covered by a recent fishing agreement between Taiwan and Japan that stipulates their fishing rights in their overlapping exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea. It was the fourth time a Taiwanese fishing boat had been detained by Japanese authorities since the two countries signed the agreement on April 10 on fishing rights near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
Golf club bans smoking
Feng Yuan Golf and Country Club in Greater Taichung announced a complete ban on smoking on Thursday, becoming the first smoke-free golf club in the country. The club’s general manager, Chang Ping-kun (張炳坤), said he would not mind if the policy impacts business because “real good health is related to a non-smoking environment” and he hoped that people using the club can be spared the potential harm of second-hand smoke. To underscore the club’s no-smoking policy, the management set up a large sign at the entrance.