This week I’m traveling around Taiwan for AFAR Magazine and Taiwan Tourism. I’ll be writing an advertorial for the magazine and cover the country on my site. While I’m just halfway through my trip I wanted to share some quick thoughts about a country many of you may not know a lot about. I know I didn’t before I arrived earlier this week.
So much of what we in the United States know about Taiwan is couched in geopolitical terms and because of that the culture isn’t well known to us. I had my preconceptions before arriving, but they have all been proven false. I’m not sure what I expected really, but I think I anticipated a mix between Thailand and Hong Kong, neither of which are good comparisons at all.
As with most places I visit, what has impressed me the most are the people. Everyone I’ve met has been so warm and welcoming, ready to answer any inane question I may have; and I have a lot. They helped me learn some basic Chinese phrases and the proper way to seek guidance at temples. Most importantly, they have enthusiastically shared their culinary traditions with me.
I already know that when I leave Taiwan it will be the food memories that will be the most important. Some of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed have happened this week and not fancy restaurants. Good, simple and delicious food is the preference here and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. Dumplings, pork, steamed meat filled buns and Peking duck have all been personal favorites.
The beauty of the country has also been incredible, as has the importance the Taiwanese place on the role nature plays in their lives. As I have visited lakes and biked along trails, most of the tourists have been Taiwanese, out simply to enjoy the physical beauty of their country. I think that’s amazing and it’s made me feel proud to be a part of it.
Overall, I think I will walk away from this trip richer in spirit for having been here. I don’t know yet where it will rank on my unofficial list of favorite places, but it is indeed a special place and so far I’ve felt privileged to be able to see it for myself.
Is there anything you want to know as I continue to explore Taiwan?