Taiwan is an underestimated tourism country for westerners – could it be because of the fact that so few Western airlines fly directly to the capital Taipei? In Taiwan it warm all the year round (although it might rain from time to time), the infrastructure such as the metro work well, there is information easily available and the locals are happy to speak English, there is a lot to see, the food is good and the hygiene and the streets are clean – and all this to an affordable price. What more would a tourist want from a destination?
There are huge differences between China and Taiwan and they are obvious for those who have visited both countries. The Taiwanese seem more relaxed and informal than the people in their country neighbors. Japanese business mindsets seem to be spread better towards Taiwan than to China. Taipei surprises also with its bohemian and arty societies.
There is a lot to explore in Taipei, but also in other parts of Taiwan. We visited the picturesque former gold mining town Jiufen, and Shifen, where lanterns are let up in the sky in order to bring luck and fortune. The ceremony is not that ecological, but it seems very important for the domestic tourists. We also tried to find out how to reach the national park Taroko, but there turned out to be several bus and train lines going there. Surprisingly that was a bit problematic, since it was not easy to verify if a specific departure was part of the “all inclusive”-day pass for transportation or not. The fragmented information could be a challenge for countries that plan to privatize their national transportation companies.
Taiwanese cuisine borrows a lot of influences from China and Japan. Some national dishes are of course available, such as oyster omelet. In other countries I have encountered Taiwanese breakfast, which has turned out to be rice porridge with dried fish or meat and herb sprinkles. As Taiwanese special desserts I would mention fried tarot balls or sweet red bean soup. The bubbles in Taiwanese bubble tea are in fact sweet jelly balls, and so are the “pearls” in pearl milk tea.