The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan’s Extraterrestrial

Photo Credit: CNET

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a temple light show? A Chinese spy balloon? A housing development???

We blame the drones that swirled around the skies prior and during the Taipei 101 New Year’s Eve Light Show, as it got us thinking, “maybe 2024 is the year they contact us.”

We are fairly certain we are not alone, in imagining that Taiwan would make a great place for aliens to arrive (Taiwan already has the residency card system all set up). It alternatively, would make for a stellar location to shoot an alien or dystopian movie. There’s just that sort of X-files vibe, Twilight crossed with Twilight Zone ambiance you know? High mountains, green hillsides rising right out of the ocean, weird old abandoned factories and military buildings, and just that feeling that comes with the clouds or fading light like there is more to this place than meets the eye or ordinary senses. We’ve written already about how Taiwan has the established moniker of “Ghost Island,” and we suspect it would not take much to turn the Island into the next Sedona or Area 51. Perhaps it already is…

The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan's Extraterrestrial 1
Photo by Philippe Yuan on Unsplash

Now the legends abound in Taiwan, and we regret not doing proper due diligence and checking what literature there is in Mandarin on the subject, but, like all great action films, that is what sequels are for. In recent years, there have been a wealth of UFO sightings around the world. Perhaps it’s the rise of cell phones and social media, perhaps a societal side effect of Covid, perhaps the New Age-ers are on to something about the alignment of Aquarius. In the United States the tinfoil folk have been pressing the American government to release information on previously classified sightings. Given what some of the footage shows, perhaps the aluminum cloches aren’t as bonkers as we once might have assumed. In Taiwan this past February a UFO sighting even grounded airplanes for a short while. While we don’t know what exactly what is out there, or what 2024 will bring, we can say that there are some wonderful stories and locations around Taiwan that are worth exploring. All we ask is for a shout out in the movie credits.

Chinese Spy Balloons

The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan's Extraterrestrial 2
Photo Credit: The Independent

2023 was a year for spy balloons. The United States watched one transect the US before finally shooting it down off of South Carolina. Recent investigations have found that the balloon was connected to a US internet provider to communicate. In the past, other spy balloons have been spotted traversing Taiwan, Japan and other parts of Asia. As recently as December of this past year, yet another balloon was seen drifting over the southern end of Taiwan. It was not shot down, but was given a number of warnings by the Taiwanese government. Some speculate that it was in relation to the upcoming January elections on the Island. The ramifications of the spy balloons could range from inconsequential to enormous, but in the meantime they also add to the question of what, if anything, we are seeing up there.

Although it is no Three Body Problem or Enigma Code, we think the makings of a spy balloon could have great movie potential. Envision something like aeronaut romance meets geopolitical intrigue.

Alien Architecture

The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan's Extraterrestrial 3
Photo Credit: Foreigners in Taiwan

If you are looking for your next day trip in Taiwan, look no further than the Wanli UFO Houses also known as The Futuro Houses. They are located on the north coast of Taiwan and were built in the 60’s as part of a prefabricated design out of fiberglass and reinforced plastic. In addition to becoming comfy, semi-movable, vacation homes, it was assumed that these would help solve global housing problems as their lightweight, well-insulated design was easy to manufacture and transport. Futuros manage to fit a kitchen, dining room, toilet, and bedroom all in the space of 50 square meters. Think a well furbished tiny home meets the wonderful imaginative world of the 60’s. The oil and supply chain crisis of the 70’s meant that these saucers never took off but you can still visit them today as a day trip from Taipei.

The Lost Pyramid of Yangmingshan

The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan's Extraterrestrial 4
Photo Credit: Josh Ellis

Call in Indiana Jones, Laura Croft, and Rick O’Connell, for we have found whisperings of an extraterrestrial or lost civilization type of pyramid on Yangmingshan. It is supposedly located off the summit of Seven Stars Mountain (a dormant volcano that sits on the edge of a capital city is the perfect setting for a hero to explore). Although on the surface a grassy hill is all that is left of the pyramid, there are rumors of caves and tunnels beneath. These in conjunction with what some suggest are other megalith structures found of the coast of Taiwan and Japan could make for a wonderful pseudo-archeological action epic. We are personally rooting for a Wu Kang-ren and Hans Chung collab.


The Good, The Bad, The Unexplainable: A Segment on Taiwan's Extraterrestrial 5
Photo Credit: Taiwan Foreigner

Well, when you kick a hornet’s nest… Coming from countries with their fair share of secret societies, religious crackpots, and cult followings, we can’t be too critical of Taiwan’s homegrown breeds of crazy, but still, Chen Tao (a UFO religion born in Taiwan), is a bit of a stretch. The short version is they were a group centered around celestial prophesies and aliens (not to be confused with Scientology which has a far better initiation and cashflow structure) which were started in the 90’s and eventually moved to Texas in the US. In 1998 their leader predicted God would appear across the country on TV on March 31st. When the Big Man didn’t appear, the group lost a bit of its momentum (and belief system) and largely disbanded. Needless to say, they are rather derided in Taiwan and as such UFO talk has often been viewed with even more suspicion.

Famous UFO Sightings

Taiwan has ghost hunters, that much is terrifyingly certain, but what we haven’t come across yet are alien hunters (we see an untapped potential for a new reality TV or vlog series here). TUFOA, or Taiwan’s Unidentified Flying Object Association, keeps a rather low profile (perhaps because of the Chen Tao-ites) and does investigate sightings but doesn’t seem to relish public attention. What the Island does have though, is a long history of UFO sightings. One of the most famous ones (see photo above left) was in 1961 near Taitung. Another (photo above right) that took place above Yuanshan Park in Taipei, was seen by hundreds if not thousands of people.


They’re out there — more Taiwanese stories and movie ideas about aliens that is — and we will keep looking. When you’re not reading the latest installment of our blog, keep your eyes and devices peeled for movement in the heavens. We hope that it is more than Starlink and Chinese spy balloons staring back at you. Until next time dear voyagers; live long and prosper.


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