Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visiting Taiwan-a Very Beautiful Island

Chinese New Year--start of the year on the Asian lunar calendar--in which February 19, 2015 is the first day of the first month of 4713, reminds me of places other than the People's Republic of China where the holidays of the lunar calendar are celebrated.

One is Taiwan.

Taiwan is a subtropical island off the coast of Asia. It has belonged to both China and Japan in the last 300 years and has an indigenous population that is neither Chinese or Japanese, so Taiwan is a very interesting blend of cultures. Currently they are a self-governed democracy. They industrialized early and are prosperous and high-tech.

beach, Taiwan

As an island, Taiwan is surrounded by beaches and beautiful ocean views. The temperatures are mild and the air warm and humid. But down the center is a range of high mountains, so you can retreat up into the mountains for a change in temperature.

mountains of Taiwan

 I found lots of flowers to admire

cameliia, Taiwan
orchids for sale, Taiwan
Orchids at weekend market, Taipei, Taiwan
and enticing gardens
garden, Taiwan
garden in traditional Chinese style, Taiwan
Taiwan grows some of the world's best tea.

tea plantation, Taiwan
tea plantation, Taiwan
Around all of it is scenic coastline:

beach, Taiwan

As one crosses the center of Taiwan, the road climbs along a spectacular gorge, Taroko Gorge, where marble was mined:

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

In all the cities, I saw dramatic Buddhist temples:

Buddhist Temple, Taiwan

And I was enchanted by whimsical sculpture, for example this dragon,

Taiwan pool

 and modern interpretations of traditional themes, such as the brightly painted moon gate.

Taiwan moon gate

My visit in 2008 did not do justice to the natural and wild areas. Those are numerous and intriguing as well.


And there is more glorious coastline:

Taiwan coast

Above, in my title, I called Taiwan beautiful. That's a rather bland adjective. But it is historic in this case. The original European name for Taiwan was Ilha Formosa, which means "beautiful island" in Portuguese. Taiwan is the Chinese/Japanese name for the island, apparently a (rather garbled) version of the name given to a particular area by the original inhabitants and applied to the entire island. 

Lots to see and like in Taiwan!

Post Script: If you ever get to Taiwan, do not fail to watch the puppet station on tv! It animates traditional and modern stories. Then find a shop and try moving the puppets. Not controlled by strings, they fit around your hand. As can be seen on puppet tv, an expert can make their motions incredibly lifelike! These came from the airport store and were not nearly as expensive as they look. (Here's a YouTube video will give you a brief look Link, watch the calligrapher's motions!)

puppets from Taiwan

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler


  1. Would love to compare notes sometime. I lived in Taichung, Taiwan for 10 months in 1973-4. Way different now, I am sure.

  2. I love travel for, among other things, the way different people apply the latest technology. So the quintessential Taiwanese character won't have changed despite, for example, using fancy electronics for both practical and kitschy displays.