After winding down my business trip in Beijing, I embarked on a straightforward two-week exploration of Taiwan. From the streets of Taipei to the quiet charm of Sun Moon Lake, the historic vibes of Tainan, and the breathtaking landscapes of Taroko National Park, my journey through Taiwan offered a great relaxed experience.
What struck me most was the notable contrast between China and Taiwan. Unlike China, most people in Taiwan speak reasonably good English, or at least they try their best to engage in a conversation. It made getting around and talking to locals a lot easier. The friendliness of the folks in each place, whether I was navigating the lively atmosphere of Taichung, experiencing the bustling energy of Kaohsiung, or wandering through the historical streets of Jiufen, added a genuine touch to my travels.
Practicalities made a difference too. The convenience of using Google for restaurant recommendations, the orderly traffic allowing pedestrians to cross without a fuss, the ease of hopping on the metro in each city without needing my passport, or the possibility to check into every hotel as a foreigner simplified the day-to-day significantly.
And then there’s the freedom of information. Taiwan allows unrestricted access to news from all over the world. No forced narratives or censorship – just a refreshing openness to diverse perspectives. From Taoyuan to the East Coast, the absence of restrictions on information made my journey all the more enriching.
In essence, my trip through Taiwan was a revelation of contrasts – a place where language, hospitality, practicalities, and freedom of information seamlessly came together. From bustling metropolises to serene landscapes, Taiwan’s charm lies not just in its beauty but in the warmth of its people and the ease of exploration.
Taipei is the big and busy capital city of Taiwan. It’s a mix of tall buildings and traditional culture. One famous building is Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest in the world.
The city is famous for its delicious food. One can find tasty treats in night markets and street stalls, like soup dumplings and other yummy street food.
If you want some nature, Taipei has even some mountains. Elephant Mountain is a popular spot where one can hike and see a great view of the city.
Getting around Taipei is easy with its great public transportation. One can explore different neighborhoods like Ximending and Da’an, or relax in parks. Taipei has a bit of everything for everyone!
Sun Moon Lake and Taichung
Sun Moon Lake is a beautiful and serene destination located in the central part of Taiwan. It’s the largest lake on the island and is surrounded by lush green mountains, creating a picturesque landscape.
The lake gets its name from its shape, which is said to resemble the sun on one side and the moon on the other. This natural wonder is not just about its scenic beauty; it’s also a place of cultural significance for the local Thao people, who have a deep connection to the lake and its surroundings.
Xuanzang Temple, situated on the hills surrounding the lake, offers a glimpse into the religious and historical aspects of the region. Additionally, Wenwu Temple, with its majestic architecture, stands as a tribute to Confucius, Buddha, and the legendary military strategist Guan Gong.
Tainan and Kaohsiung
South and East Coast
There was a typhoon warning during my travels along the south and east coast. The typhoon wasn’t very strong, but many places were closed. It was a bit challenging because I couldn’t visit all the places I wanted to. Despite that, I still enjoyed the journey and saw some cool sights along the way. The weather was a bit windy and rainy, but I made the best of it and still had a memorable adventure along the coast.
Taroko National Park is an amazing place in Taiwan, famous for its beautiful marble cliffs, deep canyons, and lush green trees. Sadly, when I was there, a typhoon warning meant that many parts of the park were closed to keep everyone safe.
Even though some places were closed, I could still see how incredible Taroko is. There were tall marble walls and rivers that shone a bright green color, making the whole place look like a scene from a movie. Because of the typhoon, the weather in Hualien, where the park is, felt mysterious. Clouds covered the mountaintops, making everything look magical and dreamy.
I couldn’t explore the park as much as I wanted to because of the typhoon, but I saw enough to realize how beautiful Taroko National Park is. Even with the limited experience, it made me really want to come back and see more of the park’s natural beauty when the weather is better.
Wow, Jiufen was such an amazing place! The little streets on the hills with a view of the ocean felt really old-fashioned. It’s like the town still remembers when people mined for gold a long time ago during the Japanese colonial period.
Walking in Jiufen was like going to a museum that’s alive. The buildings looked like they were from a different time, around a hundred years ago. There were red lanterns hanging in the streets, making it feel really special and different.
Jiufen Old Street was like a big maze with so many cool things. The market was busy and had a lot of energy. Every time I turned a corner, there was something new – local snacks, handmade things, and funny souvenirs that I wanted to take home. The smell of food from the street filled the air, and I had to try a bit of everything.
And the tea houses! They weren’t just places to drink tea; they were like special experiences. I found one with an amazing view. Sipping tea and looking at the coastline was really peaceful and nice.
Even when it rained, I thought about the movie “Spirited Away.” The rain made it a bit tough, but it also made everything feel unpredictable, like in the movies. Jiufen, with the rain, felt like a dream with a bit of a challenge.
Jiufen wasn’t just for tourists; it was like a journey through time. It was like a big treat for my senses – seeing, smelling, and tasting so many cool things. Every part of Jiufen had a story from the past. I really loved it, and I’m happy I got to see its special charm.