The Taiwanese believe that the mountains blush into a cherry blossom pink when spring wind touches them. But there’s more to why you should visit this exotic country that is squeaky clean, organised, cultural, reinstating its identity and a great place to eat and shop! And if you are vegetarian like me, you don’t have to worry! Here are the highlights from an eight-day bus tour.
Highlights: Taipei 101 tower and Din Tai Fung restarant
The highest spot of Taiwan, the Taipei 101 Tower’s “inner world” is like some of the tallest buildings of the world - the Petronas, the Sears or the Burj Khalifa in terms of mementoes, curios, shops etc. Needless to say, beautiful jade and coral sculptures, native to the region, are in abundance here.
Another must-visit is the Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung, a franchisee of which is present at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. The food is so clinically monitored that the chefs creating dumplings look like surgeons on a table. Each dumpling has five gms of outer covering, 16 gms of filling inside and a pot of say, five dumplings will be equal in size and weight to each other – such is the precision!
Tenway Garden, Changhua
Highlights: Flowers and ambience
The flower district is known for some exotic varieties of orchids and chrysanthemums that are cheated out of their natural cycle to bloom through artificial lights. The entire village has quaint flower beds and plant stores.
The Taiwan Lantern Festival, Huwei Township
Highlights: Massive lanterns, colour and music
Held in a different Taiwanese city each year, the colourful and energetic festival that reminded me of Global Village Dubai, combines traditional culture and top notch technology. While the rooster lantern dominates the landscape, others are based on Disney characters and fairytales. I tried fitting my feet into a lantern shaped like Cinderella’s shoe and a lantern prince at my feet! The shoe didn’t fit!
Sun moon lake
Jianhusan Fancy World, Yunlin
Highlights: Amusement park with some fun rides
Best suited for children and adults, the park has a horror house that isn’t scary and some truly spectacular rides that exploit its natural environment of valleys and green forests!
Long Yun Leisure farm, Chiayi
Highlights: Pounding Mochi to the beats of songs and the Xingding sunrise
Nested among the high mountains and tea plantations, the farm is surrounded by woods and tall pine trees. It’s ideal for those who love solitude as the space is very quiet, private and serves some great food. The tea tempuras and the hot pot are particularly delicious.
Tai Yi Red Maple Resort, Puli Township
Highlights – Flowers and strawberry picking
The breathtaking resort is surrounded by flowers especially the cherry blossoms. Quaint chalets and landscaped gardens make it so idyllic that you wonder why Bollywood hasn’t arrived at its shores yet!
Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village, Alishan
Highlight: Naruwan theatre and its tribal artistes
Soak into the culture of the nine tribes of Taiwan and watch the vibrant songs and dance performances. The mountainous terrain is dotted by tea plantations now experimenting with growing coffee.
Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi Township, Nanchou
Highlights: Cycling, boating and the ropeway
The artificial lake created by the Japanese adds to the ecological belt of the country. Cycling, boat cruises and the Sun Moon lake ropeway leads to the aboriginal village which has some well-preserved heritage homes and museums. Keep cash while shopping.
Juming Museum, Jinshan District
Highlights: Art in an open landscape
Created by Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming, the outdoor museum opens from 10 am to 5 pm, and is lined up with life-size sculptures that include the presence of Japanese and Chinese soldiers on its shores.
Xiayoukeng, Yangmingshan National Park
Highlights: Fumaroles, Sulphur crystals, hot springs and post volcanic activity
Located on Mt Qixing, northwestern foot, the place smells of Sulphur and is dotted with hot water springs. It is known to be a space of landslide activity and not to be missed.
The Grand Hotel, Taipei
Highlight: Muslim 5 Star Hotel
Created in flaming red, the Grand Hotel is imposing, to say the least. It has hosted the likes of Liz Taylor to Eisenhower, Ronald Raegan, Bill Clinton to various foreign diplomats and delegates. It is massive and built in a traditional style and thematised in red, a colour native to the region.
Tips for travelers:
- Do carry enough cash. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere.
- Most people in Taiwan don’t speak English. So, employing a tour guide is helpful.
- Do try the edible flowers some outlets serve.
- All hotels offer wifi and phone chargers ( some with a refundable deposit amount)