Taiwan – Ilha Formosa

6 08 2007

The next place in my travel sights is a location that is foreign to most, but of much significance to me.  Taiwan, called “Ilha Formosa” by the first European explorers to discover it, is a small tropical island off the coast of China that is located on the Tropic of Cancer.  According to Wikipedia, its area is slightly smaller than the US states of Maryland and Delaware combined.

This is the best map I could find online right now.

Taiwan map

Although I was born there, I have not visited for several years so this next visit will be especially exciting for me.  Charles and I are planning to go for an all too brief 1.5 week visit in September (2007).  This will also be Charles’ first visit ever to Taiwan, so I am looking forward to introducing him to the country of my origin.  

Since before we were married, I have been telling Charles stories about my summers in Taiwan as a kid.   Many things have changed in Taiwan since then, but it seems that many more things have stayed the same.  While technology and development have advanced, coffee shops have proliferated, and Taiwan has progessed socially, it’s still hot and muggy, old men still chew betel nut, politicians are still crazy, and karaoke is still as popular as ever.  I started compiling a list of what to expect in Taiwan for Charles’ benefit, which I have always had in my head but am now putting down on paper for the benefit of my two faithful blog readers (Thanks for reading Dad!). 

– As soon as you step out of the airport, you will be completely soaked in sweat.  It will be hot and muggy every day unless there is a typhoon.  Be glad we are not going in August.  Be glad we are staying in places that have air conditioning.

– You will see lots and lots of concrete at first, but Taiwan is more than that.  There is lots of nature for an island this size, including waterfalls, verdant mountains, marble gorges, and beautiful non-swimmable beaches.

– You will be stared at because you are a tall caucasian American.  Don’t worry, though, because Taiwanese love Americans (and their dollars).  Also, it will be easy for me to spot you in a crowd so I will never lose sight of you.

– There will be lots and lots of scooters everywhere.  Do not be alarmed.  Well, it is alarming but as long as we are careful, we should be ok.  Traffic is a mess, and there will not seem to be any order anywhere.  That’s because there isn’t.

The positives:

– The food will be awesome, especially the street food.  I am looking forward to having bawan (steamed meat dish), bazhang (rice wrapped in banana? leaves), duadeng (rice stuffed in sausage), ah-hue (uh, don’t want to translate this), Taiwanese sausage, Taiwanese caviar, pearl milk tea, and all the exotic tropical fruit that you can’t get in the US.

– We are going to the National Palace Museum, which has the largest collection of Ancient Chinese treasures in the world (including China). 

– There are beautiful temples everywhere of every type (Taoist, Buddhist, etc).  Again, be glad we are not going in August during Ghost month.

– Night markets – food, entertainment, and fun.

– There is a lot of great shopping everywhere, from department stores to street markets.  Oh wait, this is a positive for me.  Uh, they do have electronics – just a bit.  😉




2 responses

7 08 2007

At the national museum you will see extraordinary cut silk tapestry, jade carvings, bronze ritual vessels, and enamel ware. Perhaps you will be able to find contemporary versions in the markets – good luck!

7 08 2007

hey, i read too. 🙂

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