Beautiful Taiwan: Part 1

Beautiful Taiwan: Part 1

Slice of Mango Slice of Life

by: Aries Lucea

It’s hard to label Taiwan when making an introduction about this place. Is it a country, province or a state? Its status as a territory is controversial and very convoluted thing of history. But as a traveler to this beautiful island it is essential to know a bit of its past to enjoy the sights, sounds, historical landmarks and the great monuments found in its capital city, Taipei.

Taiwan is officially known as Republic of China (ROC), it claims mainland China as part of its territory, and once held a seat at the United Nations before it was ceded to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1971. When the Chinese Communists defeated Chang Kai Shek led Chinese Nationalist Party, his forces along with some of Chinese elites retreated to Taiwan and established the island as the capital. Mainland China (PRC) considers Taiwan as a renegade province, and even made it known that force will be used should it seek recognition of its independence or a peaceful reunification is deemed impossible.

Almost a quarter of China’s historical treasures were successfully shipped to Taiwan before the rest were intercepted by the Communist forces. Luckily, depends on which side are you on, but all the finest had already been sailed to the island. The National Palace Museum is a must place to be visited. It is said that this museum is at par with that of Louvre in Paris or the Met of New York. With the vastness of its collection, it is impossible to put them all on display at once, even at this huge museum. The collection is on an every three-month rotation.

The Chang Kai Shek Memorial on which ground the National Theatre is also located should not be missed. My photos could not justify the massiveness and grandeur of this memorial. It is alsoinspiring to witness the changing of the guards, who keep watch the statue of their great leader. Awesome is the word that best describes this ceremony, such great display reverence for a highly esteemed leader. A friend of mine likened it to Janet Jackson’s choreography for her song “Rhythm Nation”. All these and more can be found in the capital city.

For people with edifice obsession, it is also noteworthy that Taipei 101 at a towering height of 509 meters was once the highest building in the world, until 2008, when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was unveiled. I love Taipei a lot. It’s vibrant, fun, organized but feels very relaxed, so much different from the stressfully fast-paced feel of major cities in other developed countries.

Also, Taiwan probably has the friendliest and the nicest people travelers can ever meet. They make you feel very welcome and genuinely happy to receive guests to their lovely nation (Yes, I’m on their side and calling this island a nation). When asked for direction, these people don’t give you one, but rather accompany you to your destination. Where people on the train stood up almost all at once to make sure both my kids get seated. We were there for 6 rainy days but the cheerifullness of its people and relaxed attitude of the place make it seemed like we spent 6 sunny days in beautiful Taiwan.

I will be talking about Taiwan’s famous street food culture and amazing things to do for your little ones on the next issue of DK. Till then….