|A part of the beautiful, sprawling metropolis that is Taipei|
It is a small nation, a little island really. But its name has reverberated throughout my childhood and until today. Taiwan floats like a fallen fruit on China Sea in East Asia, gigantic China to its west and to its south numerous islands grouped as the Philippines. The nation is a giant in several ways—in manufacturing and in industrial economy—but it is more than that as I discovered in a few visits, learning its culture bit by bit and even most deliciously through its panoply of dishes, and contemplating on its beautiful landscapes.
Taiwan is very Chinese, mostly Han, as much as it is also other cultures—Western and indigenous. It is very cosmopolitan as well as very rustic. It is very modern but also steeped in traditions.
Many travelers enter Taiwan through its international airport in Taoyuan City in the northernmost part and travel about forty kilometres east to the capital Taipei. I love Taipei. As I approached the city on bus, I saw it from afar a sprawling cluster of gleaming buildings. I also saw its fringes and fingers crawling into the mountainsides and forests, not menacingly but almost tenderly as if to clasp them. At many points, the city meets and melds beautifully with forests and mountains. A clear river rushes into the city, silver like the glass buildings. In the city, I love the wide sidewalks and the tree-lined streets, and the food, both inventive and traditional, that makes the streets redolent. At night and in the markets, food is more attractive and beguiling than the shiniest toys or gadgets.
From Taipei, we would go south to Kaohsiung City. Going around Taiwan is very convenient. We went on the Taiwan High Speed Rail that runs about 350 kilometers, traversing the running central region, from north to south. From Taipei, it takes only about an hour to go to Kaohsiung. There are views of fields and forests, and in between there are stations like airport terminals.
From Kaohsiung, we made our way back to Taipei, stopping at major cities—Tainan, Taichung, New Taipei, Taoyuan—and visiting temples old and new, the night markets with its riot of colors and aromas, the restaurants that revealed to be gastronomic wonderlands, lakes as well as malls, and meeting friendly and interesting people. Every street had its story. The body ached but the spirit nourished. It will take a lifetime or two to know Taiwan, but we took in as much as we can, and the experiences we collected always bloom brightly in the gardens of our memories.
NB: Taiwan Expo 2017 is being held from September 29 to October 1, 2017, at SMX Convention Center Manila, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, organized by the Taiwan Association in the Philippines, a social and civic group of Taiwanese businessmen in the Philippines led by its president Allan Lin and honorary president Seimo Huang, and Taiwan External Trade Development Council.
Trips to Taiwan can be arranged by Jeron Travel and Tours (www.jerontravel.com) with office at 727 VM Tower, Roxas Boulevard corner Airport Road, Pasay City. Call (+63 2) 854-1813.
|A floating garden on Sun Moon Lake|
|Delightful seafood at the Liuhe Night Market in Sinsing, Kaohsiung|
|Fields along the route of the high-speed rail|
|Qiming Court in Zuoying, Kaohsiung|
|The iconic Taipei 101 tower in Taipei, once the tallest structure in the world|
|The Tawain High Speed Rail arrives in Zuoying, Kaohsiung|
|Vibrant Xi Men Ding area in Taipei City|