Making Tracks

Every so often, Taiwan's laid-back ancient capital, Tainan, has a media moment. In 2004, it came when President Chen Shui-bian survived an assassination attempt while campaigning for re-election in his native county. Last fall, the island's ravenous press corps lined Tainan's streets to greet another hometown hero, New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming, when he returned to spend the off-season with his parents. But the most recent development will likely outlast the next-day news cycle: the sleek new bullet train has arrived, opening up a southward escape route from scooter-choked Taipei.

The new rail connection, which opened in...

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