The People, The Food, The Art: A First-Timer’s Perspective on Taiwan

“We made it.”

This is what I gleefully told our Associate Editor Nicole when we got to Taiwan. It was just the “break” we needed after the crazy work week. We arrived in Taiwan at night and it was a welcome I could never forget. All around us city lights were flashing as if dancing along with my thoughts.

The Local Living

One morning, we had a walking tour of Da Dao Cheng, a charming old town in Taipei. Our little tour was led by a local, who fondly recalled his childhood in the small neighborhood and even told us how his parents got his name from a fortune teller.

 

At first glance, Taiwan seemed very similar to Manila. The weather, the streets, and the people looked familiar. The locals are warm, and exuded a hospitality that’s similar to Filipinos. And maybe because of our Chinese ancestors, I found many of the traditions are similar, too.

We passed by a temple along Da Dao Cheng, one that is said to give good luck to those who are looking for a life partner and helps current relationships to be stronger. I stopped in front of the temple, closed my eyes and said “thank you.” Because finally, my heart is happy and I have nothing more to ask for.

We then went to another temple. Inside the temple grounds, beneath massive trees, were tables and chairs where people sat for a quiet meal. Nicole asked our tour guide what religion is practiced in this temple. He said everyone can pray there, no matter their beliefs. We stood there in front of the temple in awe of how everyone’s accepted here.

The Food

The food in Taiwan is incredible. It reminded me of my grandparent’s home-cooking. When we were at Taichung, we ate at Arashi where we tried Taiwan’s traditional braised minced pork. Tender, full of flavor, and absolutely filling, the braised minced pork is familiar to the Filipino palate, while also delivering a taste that’s uniquely Taiwan.

Another dish worthy of raving about? Pan fried pork buns. And you can try them out at Taipei’s Kao Chi restaurant which is quite known for this little heavenly buns.

And, of course, you can’t say you’ve gone to Taiwan and not had a milk tea. This worldwide favorite milk tea, also known as bubble tea, originated in Taichung, Taiwan back in the 1980s.

Milk tea in Taiwan tastes a lot different from that of ours here in the Philippines. I find milk tea in the Philippines to be too sugary at times, while Taiwan’s is more delicate, subtle, and a lot less sweet in taste. And more delicious, too, in general. So for those who like their milk tea to taste a lot more like actual “tea” than just a sugary pick-me-upper, you’ll enjoy Taiwan’s version very much.

The Art

As an artist, another thing I loved about Taiwan is the art scene. I found it very…approachable. There are venues everywhere to showcase art and it was highly recognized by its audience, mostly locals, whether in the theaters, galleries, or stores.

National Taichung Theater, for example, was not only for the performing arts but also for furniture designers, chefs, and all you could ever think of. It is the venue where artists of different kinds can showcase their work and sell to its audience.

The city, the people, the food, and the art. To the eyes of a Taiwan first-timer like me, I found the country to be absolutely beautiful. Taiwan is unassuming, but it just has that vibe. A quality that just tells you you’ll fit quite right in.

Read more about Taiwan: Discovering Tainan: Taiwan’s Oldest City is Perhaps Also its Loveliest

Special thanks to Taiwan Television Network and to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs for taking WhenInManila.com to this cultural and culinary adventure in Taiwan.

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