Distinctly, Taiwan

Taiwan isn’t a country. Thus, this shows how ignorant I’ve been in geography and international issues. It’s a state of the Republic of China but being in Taiwan for four days made me see it has its own charm and so does the people. It is, separately, an enchanting place.

Although I would agree with other bloggers that you can do solo travel in Taiwan, that would be extremely difficult if you do not speak Mandarin. English signs are rare and people don’t converse as much in English. It would be easy to get lost in translation.

Kaohsiung: The Must-See Temples and Night Market
Fo Guang Shan is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist organizations in Taiwan. Similar to the temple in Chinatown, Singapore, it is famous as home to the Buddha’s tooth relic. Another famous tourist destination is the Lotus Pond on the east side of Zuoying District. We went there at night and the pond illuminated the lights from the dragon and tiger pagodas. After that, we visited the Ruifeng Night Market which offered varied street food, inexpensive finds great for souvenirs, quality items for your personal wardrobe, etc.

SunMoon Lake and the Shilin Night Market
I wanted to see nature and breathe in Taiwan’s fresh air. Thus, we went to SunMoon Lake for a short hike following the Maolan Trail. The hike took three hours to and fro and it was tiring for someone like me who had just been sick for the previous weeks. However, the experience was calming and quite refreshing. There’s something about the trees, the forest air, and the whole walk that rejuvenate one’s spirit. After that, we headed to Ita Thao Village as it is famous for its food stalls. After the refreshing trip to SunMoon Lake, we finally went to Taipei. To end the day, we visited Shilin Night Market and tried as much food we can. I’m allergic to a lot of things so this is both a happy and saddening experience. I missed out on their delectable seafood and such.

Spirited Away in Jiufen and Shifen
Since I love Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, I did not miss the chance to see Jiufen which is said to be the creator’s inspiration of the animated film. It was full of lanterns and felt authentically Japanese as it was once a mining town occupied by Japan. However, it was also full of tourists and it was definitely congested especially though the small alleys of food stalls. We walked a bit farther from the crowd and discovered hidden gems in the old mining town of Jiufen. After that, it took us three hours to get to Shifen Old Street. It was night and because of our strict schedule and weariness, we were not able to see its proud waterfalls. However, we had a dream-like experience of lighting our own lanterns and sending our wishes to the sky. Aside from that, we had fun playing along the railroad as there’s an hour interval per train which leaves the tracks empty during that time.

After reading articles about Taiwan, it saddens me that they are struggling for autonomy and is unsuccessful with their claim. Anyone who would visit would clearly see that it has its own history and culture. It has its own people. As it is, distinctly, Taiwan.

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