A short trip to Taiwan


A short trip to Taiwan

My trip to Taiwan did not quite live up to my initial expectations. However, it was one of the perks that came with being one of the awardees of the 2023 Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards. Despite the unexpected turn of events, this journey proved to be exactly what I needed for this year.

My last international trip was in 2017. The prospect of being denied boarding lingered in my mind due to a previous encounter during my trip to Singapore. Despite the issue being settled then, the thought remained unsettling. Thankfully, the brief conversation with the immigration officer proceeded smoothly. They have my travel record in their data system.

I opted to leave my laptop and iPad behind, choosing instead to pack a selection of books for those idle moments at the airport or during travel lulls. It’s quite comforting, especially knowing there’s a stack of unread books—spanning both physical copies and ebooks—waiting to be delved into. To put it succinctly, my goal is to transform idle waiting periods into opportunities for productivity.

Given that we were on a group tour, we had little choice but to relish the three-day trip to Taiwan. Who could resist such an offer? Everything was meticulously arranged for us, with all expenses covered. The generosity of the organizers is so overwhelming that it is tempting to participate in this year's call for entries.

A short trip to Taiwan

Our itinerary, meticulously planned by the tour agency, led us to explore the renowned tourist spots of Taiwan. Our journey commenced at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a monument that provided me with a deep understanding of the significant impact this leader had on Taiwan's historical narrative. However, considering Taiwan's complex relationship with China, I feel compelled to delve deeper into the life and influence of this prominent figure. It's always beneficial to comprehend every facet of the story.

Even though I grapple with acrophobia, the allure of Taipei 101—once the world's pinnacle of architectural height—beckoned me to brave its summit for a breathtaking panoramic view of the metropolis below.

Like many of the world's warmer cities, Taipei bursts into life as night falls. For those new to the city and seeking the full Taiwanese street food experience, Raohe Street Night Market is the perfect starting point. Our fleeting saunter through the night market barely scratched the surface. The plethora of food stalls was so enticing that one would feel compelled to return each night, just to sample every culinary delight on offer.

A short trip to Taiwan

Shifen District, one of Taiwan's most renowned tourist destinations, left me in awe. Throughout the year, international visitors are drawn to this quaint village on the Pingxi Railway Line. Here, they inscribe their wishes on sky lanterns and release them into the heavens from the railway tracks. Despite its tranquil ambiance, the village attracts a multitude of tourists eager to partake in the unique experience of lantern release. It's a testament to Taiwan's ingenious tourism strategy that such a simple tradition can draw such international interest.

A trip to Taipei is not truly complete until you have experienced the historic and revered Lungshan Temple, a cornerstone of cultural and spiritual life in the city. The Bangka Lungshan Temple, dedicated to the folk deity Guanyin, stands in Taipei's Wanhua District as a symbol of the Chinese folk religion. Established in 1738 by Fujianese immigrants under the Qing dynasty, it has been both a spiritual sanctuary and a hub for the local Chinese community.

A short trip to Taiwan

My visit to Lungshan Temple stands out in my memory. Primarily because it offered me the opportunity to engage in prayer and make a wish within its sacred confines. The positive affirmation I received in return instilled in me a renewed sense of hope and determination to persist in my endeavors. While it may sound clichéd, this was an integral part of the experience and added to the charm of visiting this renowned temple.

Ximending serves as a cultural hub for the young generation. Stretching from Tatton Street to the accessory stores of Wannian Plaza, it provides a space for self-expression through cosplay and street dancing. It's also a popular spot for pop stars to hold promotional events, especially on weekends. Ximending also stands out as a dynamic retail area in Taipei, celebrated for blending contemporary styles with classic touches, often likened to the likes of Shibuya, Harajuku, and Times Square.

A short trip to Taiwan

We stayed in a 5-star hotel nestled in the heart of Taipei’s bustling downtown district, which offered us unparalleled convenience for urban exploration. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time or the opportunity to fully roam around. There were interesting spots near our hotel that I had intended to visit.

Most of the Taiwanese people I encountered were not fluent in English. The Google Translate app has become a valuable tool for both Taiwanese residents who are not fluent in English and tourists seeking to communicate with local inhabitants.

While in Taiwan, I seized the opportunity to sample their renowned bubble tea, a beverage the country is famous for. The experience of savoring bubble tea in Taiwan is an absolute must. The streets are dotted with an abundance of bubble tea shops, each boasting a variety of unique flavors and intriguing blends. No matter your taste preference, trying bubble tea is an essential part of Taiwanese travel.

A short trip to Taiwan

As a coffee enthusiast, I had the delightful opportunity to immerse myself in Taiwan's rich coffee culture. I visited one of Taipei's specialty coffee shops, - SanFormosan. There, I savored the SanFormosan Signature—a unique offering that showcases the best of the island's Arabica beans, served meticulously as both a hot and a cold brew, using the pour-over method. It was serendipitous to find this gem of a coffee shop conveniently located close to my hotel, allowing me to indulge in my passion for coffee with ease.

Given Taiwan's reputation for its pineapples, we purchased some pineapple pastries to sample and serve as our pasalubong. Despite my usual indifference towards pasalubong, I found myself joining the lengthy line at a renowned store that specializes in these pastries.

Our Taiwan trip left us wanting more. However, even with the limited time we spent on this island, I can confidently say that I will return to Taiwan when the opportunity arises.