To date, I’ve been to different parts of Taiwan 4 times already. And I can’t say I’m sick of it yet.
The first 2 times I’ve been there with the army. So those times I was poor af and couldn’t fully enjoy myself because there are rules and regulations to adhere to. But the food was what got rooted in my mind. Particularly street food, the Roasted Boar meat in Onion pancake. Always always bought them from a mini-lorry of sorts converted into a mobile food truck. Nothing I tasted in the capital city match the ones I ate at the Southern end of the island nation. Then I was brought went to the cities like Kaohsiung and Taipei where I continue hunting for night markets and translated Japanese Light Novels. This was when my level of otaku-ism peaks.
Then I went back to Taiwan for another 2 more times with Claire. Once to Jiufen where we hike up 2 mountains and nearly died from heat exhaustion.. Then visited the overpriced tea house that the Ghibli movie Spirited Away draw its inspiration from.
And the most recent time when I woke her up in the middle of the night vomiting and asking her to bring me to a hospital. After which we spent the next day sleeping in the hotel because she also came down with food poisoning. We had to share my medicine.. Still, I was surprised by the care and concern showed by the hotel staff. It was a tiny budget hotel that rented a couple of floors of an old building to run as a hotel. We had to take a lift from 8th to 6th floor because the 7th floor is owned by a different tenant. Claire told the staff at the lobby about our situation and he called a cab for us, went down with us and told the driver exactly where to go. After our bout at the hospital, we came back in the morning around 8am, that particular staff passed by our room after his shift just to check on our status before he go home. That’s the kind of human touch I’ll like to see more often anywhere in this world. But the current age seem like we get human interactions via social media more often than in real life..
But despite the misadventure, I still miss Taiwan. The biggest draw was the mountains, the trails were mostly clearly marked out, haven’t tried the lesser known ones or the taller than 2000m ones to say anything about them. But I liked how even if you’re lost, the general public (who speaks mandarin, my most fluent language) will most definitely help you out when you ask them. They were warm and approachable, and won’t swipe you away like you’re a damn mosquito. Introverted as I am, I have lesser problems trying to ask or directions or help over there.
Their awesome street food used to be one of the reasons I wanted to go there so much. But after the recent gastroenteritis experience, I have my reservations.. The spring onion pancake with roasted boar meat though, I still dream of it sometimes..
The Northern parts and the mountains will have more distinctive seasons, we went during autumn once and experienced the heat wave, feels like summer and we were overdressed for it. Then the last was spring and the cold wind chilled our bones. But the plus point is that we get to at least see a couple variety of cherry blossoms blooming up at Alishan. Not quite the photos you see plastered all over the internet, it takes lots of luck to see them because the Japanese type cherry blossoms generally bloom for only a week.
Then if you wanna see snow, you can go during winter up higher altitudes where it will almost certainly snow. We plan to go visit the central Alps region next, and maybe we will attempt it again in winter months where it should snow like mad. Stay tuned for Claire’s updates, if we really go..
With such dynamic weather changes very unlike our Singaporean summer 247 climate about 4 hours flight away is really great. To be honest I would much rather go Japan if give the choice, but when we wanna cut our budget, Taiwan is a great alternative. More affordable with no language barrier. I’ve yet to cover even 10% of Taiwan, but I am aiming to cover at least 40% in the years to come. Because the mountains are calling.