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A Spoonful of Soul: Formosa aka Island of Taiwan
is no end to the adventures that we can have, if only we seek them
with our eyes open.” - Welcome to taiwan, formerly known as
Formosa, meaning 'beautiful isle in Portuguese'. The first thing that
strikes you when you land on his beautiful land are the friendly and
SMT Maglev Train Ride in Shanghai
Zhujiajiao & Seven Treasures Town Day Visit
My first stop was in the hilly areas of Jinshan District, famous for its hot springs and geoparks. While the former was a tad disappointment, latter was an experience into the interesting world of sedimentary rocks formation. My stay was cosily tucked away in the green lustrous valley of Sanchongqiao. The hills had a very mossy, velvety yet regal look and feel. Being away from the city lights has it own advantage. I get to have raw encounter with nature and its inhabitants. Downside, communication. Along the way, I had come across a beautiful coastline on one side and hilly mountains on the other with windmills, enhancing the overall beauty. When I tried enquiring the same place with sign language to a local, I was pointed into a direction of a shop selling table fans. Food was another major concern. Being vegetarians, food options was very much limited. Explaining people my needs was way harder than ever. That was the time, I realised, that my questions were more important than expected answers. Thanks to availability of wifi, I was able to make use of google translate on my smart phone. It was the only working link between two cultures. A special mention to our first hitchhiking experience (only to realise that I was asking people to drop us in the wrong direction).
windmills, enhancing the overall beauty
Taiwan is quite well connected by roads, even in places where its hard to find food, one will come across a fully functioning bus stop. Day two was a was a trip to a small town called Jiufen, not long ago a gold mining area, which gave birth to the once prosperous town around the mountain alleys. it was quite easy for a geographically confused person like me to lose my way. We landed in Taiwan during ghost month, and though the cityside is not stringent about closing time, the rural area was all shut down by 8pm. We were helped by the owner of a small shop that came across our path. She went to the extent of giving the onwer a call to pick us up.How did she explain, a girl with big eyes- probably Indian. While we waited, her husband entertained with his music on his own version of violin.
I'm not a big fan of museums and generally I avoid paying a visit to one, unless it holds something unique. Needless to say, Taiwan is filled with numerous museums, but a special mention of National Palace Museum is a must. It boasts of an impressive collection of more than 696,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over 10,000 years of Chinese history from Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. An interetsing fact to note is, that many of these books at the museum were shipped from Japan.It was during the prime time of Meji restoration, a period during which Japan was deeply involved in nationwide westernised reformation. Large volumes of Chinese books were dumped into the market at low prices. Owing to Late Yang Shoujing’s insaccent efforts in collecting these books and shipping it back to China in order preserve Chinese culture.During the Chinese Civil War, all these items were then moved to Taiwan for security purposes. As a book lover,I was unable to understand to read the displayed texts, but they all emanated passion of its author.The brushstrokes of calligraphy was seamless and beautiful.
Taiwan is filled with numerous museums
Not far from the National Museum is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, built in the memory of China’s former present.The roof is octagonal in shape,a number traditionally associated with abundance and good fortune in China.This hall is located at Liberty square, a public plaza which symbolises the transformation of Taiwan from one party to modern democracy.The Chinese inscription has characters placed in left-to-right sequence, following modern practice in Taiwan. The ground level houses a museum which also displays the restoration effort in progress to rebuilt Alishan after the destruction left by typhoon Marakot.It enatils a successful example of private and international participation in rescontruction.
Next our search landed us in the compounds of famous longshan temple, built in the 17th century, as a gathering place Chinese settlers. As I encountered something in most chinese temples, there’s an unique praying style. You take two half moon shared rocks/wooden stones and throw it on the ground, before asking your wish. The final display pattern has three combinations, yes, no & maybe. With positive result, you pick a number and check the pamphlet for Buddha’s advice. Can’t tell you what my question was, but all I got was a smile from Buddha, maybe ‘coz my question was stupid...teee heee
a smile from Buddha
Last stop was to Dihua street, also called the old Taipei city. Well known for it concatenations of herbs and tea, our main motive was to visit one of the numerous parks scattered all over Taiwan and also to find some relaxing time, far from the busy streets.
What surprised me the most was the limited number of foreign visitors in Taiwan. In my entire trip I can count the very few numbers of westerns I came across, all as befuddled as us. Taiwan is a place, filled with natural beauty, beaches, greenery and fine blend of old culture with new hip-hop culture. I will need more time to experience this beautiful culture and more importantly its people. Even with our confused looks their friendliness, humbleness, irrespective of rural or urban side was overwhelming. Everywhere I went, I felt welcomed. Yes, you will definitely need patience to work your way around the communication barrier, but I can promise you, it will be worth.
Everywhere I went, I felt welcomed.