We were quite prepared for this Taiwan trip — flight booked months before, itinerary detailed out, budget carefully planned. I, myself, had all the resources (from bookmarked blog articles to guide books in my iPad) that gave me a glimpse of Taiwan and what to expect when we get there. And yes, they gave me nothing but mere glimpses because Taiwan had so much more to offer, but this I didn’t get to discover until our third day there!
I landed in Taipei with my officemates and good friends Jenny and Pauline last March 28 and stayed there until the first of April. It took me quite a while before I realized what Taiwan actually was. The first two days, I was kind of confused about Taiwan’s identity. Unlike Vietnam, I wasn’t able to instantly identify what they were as a nation/culture because everything seemed to be of Japanese, Chinese, and Western themes. And then, thanks to Pauilne’s Taiwanese friend Ishan, it dawned on me — Taiwan is a mix! Ishan shared with us that they were actually under Japanese rule for 50 (!) years, then I later found out that they were under the Dutch before that.
For some reason, this was the biggest surprise of all, and I found it really interesting. This explains the numerous Japanese restaurants, European-themed patisseries, and Hello Kitties everywhere.
Aside from Taiwan being an interesting mix of cultures, I was also awed and surprised by Taiwan’s mountains and gorges. Even within the city, you’ll see views of beautiful mountains from afar.
When the Portugese sailors discovered Taiwan, they first named it Ilha Formosa, meaning “Beautiful Isle”. These mountains put the Formosa in Ilha Formosa, and these photos will never do them justice:
For tours to Hualien City and Taroko Gorge, contact Tiffany Chang here.
Up next — Taiwan Surprised Me! Part 2: The Warmth of the Taiwanese