Well, my blog usually talks about philosophy and martial arts. However, after I read an article called “You Have Won a Trip to Taiwan” in the National Geographic Traveler, November/December 2007 I decide to write an article about Taiwan, since I came from there. The Traveler’s front cover theme is “Places Rated: The World’s Best Islands”. One of the subheadings is “Two for Taiwan: Big Prize, Great Trip”. In the magazine they have twelve pages of excellent pictures and literary compositions introducing local Taiwanese customs, practices, Aborigines and geography. The writers travelled throughout Taiwan visiting cities and countryside and Bunan, a village belonging to one of the 13 Aboriginal clans. They conclude that they have discovered a place that may be Asia’s best-kept secret.
In the article the writer muses, “One more thing: Taiwan isn’t exactly making headlines as a vacation wonderland. Intrigued, I phone the only person I know who has lived there-a businessman friend who was stationed in Taipei. ‘Jayne, that’s fabulous news!’ he says. ‘You’ll just love the friendly people, and the island is China in miniature, with all of its cuisines and cultures-Hakka, Mandarin, Cantonese, Sichuan, Manchu. Plus some great scenery to boot.’”
Here’s a list of some of the places mentioned in the magazine:
Alishan House, www.alishanhouse.com.tw/index.asp
Alishan National Scenic Area, www.ali.org.tw
Bunun Village, www.bunun.org.tw
Fo Guang Shan Monastery, www.fgs.org.tw
Kenting National Park, www.ktnp.gov.tw/eng/home/index.asp
National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, www.yasten.gov.tw/english
National Palace Museum, www.npm.gov.tw
National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, www.ntch.edu.tw
Sun Moon Lake, www.sunmoonlake.gov.tw
Taroko National Park, www.taroko.gov.tw
Besides these places mention in the magazine I also would like to introduce some of my favourite places in Taiwan.
If you practice Tai Chi Chu’an and like sculpture art then you also can go Juming Museum. Ju Ming (1938-) is a master sculptor who started his artistic repertoire in Taiwan and has received international recognition. His site states: “After Taiwan shows the world economical and political miracles, this is truly another miracle in art. From Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Series sculpture you will see what is Tai Chi Chu’an verve.” Go to Juming Museum, http://www.juming.org.tw/juming-en/index2_en.html
There are many monasteries in Taiwan; one is the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung County south of Taiwan. Or if you like to practice Zen meditation, there is also the famous Dharma Drum Mountain Zen Monastery in Northern Taiwan. They always have short-term Zen meditation courses for busy people and have meditation centres around the world. Go to Dharma Drum Mountain, http://www.dharmadrum.org/index.aspx
Besides famous scenic places in Taiwan you should go to a teahouse, especially if you like to drink Oolong (green) tea. A teahouse is one of the special cultural experiences of Taiwan. When you walk through the gardens to sit in the traditional style, low-tabled rooms overlooking the deep, clear Koi pond you will really enjoy the experience of drinking high quality tea and eating all the many different kinds of tea snacks. I wish we had teahouses like this in Canada.
The night market is another special Taiwanese cultural experience. If you can’t sleep at night then you should go try the unusual snack foods (quail eggs on-a-stick, BBQ squid, dragon fruit drink in-a-bag, candied sour green mango slices, pick-your-own ingredients for soup-in-a-bag), wide range of items for sale and lively crowds of friendly Taiwanese.
Just as the magazine said, Taiwan isn’t exactly making headlines as a vacation wonderland for Western people but after the authors visited I think they were impressed. So if you never been Taiwan why don’t you plan for it in the future?
If you click on the picture it will enlarge.