Two hours after sunset. The narrow streets densely lined with stalls offering a whole range of local delicacies. Locals who had finished work for the day provides themselves with pork, seafood and sweets. Just one thing doesn’t fit into this colorful mosaic. Squeezing international group with high (relatively) Pole at the front. Yes it’s us. Lucky crew, which got the flight to a small island of the size of slightly smaller Belgium, off the coast of China.
What exactly is that Taiwan?
More than 60 years ago by civil war, the commander of losing side – Chiang Kai-shek took his people, arms and as much as he could lift of Chinese art and evacuated to Taiwan. To this day, authorities in Taiwan, or the Republic of China, as officially the state is called deem to be representative of the whole of China and Mongolia. However, as a result of the communist rebellion (referred to today’s People’s Republic of China), it had to temporarily move to the island of Taiwan.
Tomb of the father of the nation – Chiang Kai-shek can really impress any visitor. The huge complex covers an area of as much as 35 football fields (250 thousand m2). In addition to monumental architecture, massive statue of the commander, you can learn there almost everything (positive for the image) about the leader. From the books he used to read when he was young, through the clothes which he used to wear up to… his meals.
Taiwanese Chinese and Chinese
It might seem that they are the same. In the end, this is one nation that split just over 60 years ago. Earlier also, intermittently, the island belonged to China. Nothing could be further from the truth. Well, my dear friends, the difference is diametrical.
It starts from the flight itself. The difference in work on the flight to mainland China and Taiwan, it’s like comparing a flight to Pakistan and Europe.
Although the Chinese from the PRC are the largest group of tourists in Taiwan, and thus, provide a large inflow of cash to Taiwanese each year, mildly saying, residents of the island don’t feel sympathy to their relatives from mainland. In their opinion Chinese are loud, rude and lacking in manners. To not go into details… They’re said to give vent from their stomach variations and gases in the body in the form of sounds and scents commonly known as unacceptable among the other people :)
Of course I haven’t talked to every each Taiwanese and certainly it’s not an opinion of the whole nation (probably?), but I had the pleasure of talking with several people on board, the captain, and even with guard in the tomb of Chiang Kai-shek. Their views were very similar.
We must keep in mind, however, that efforts of the PRC to restore Taiwan to China, causes in Taiwan concern about its independence. This in turn may transform into dislike of Taiwan residents to their brethren on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
If only every big city would have such a Metro…
However about the Taiwanese itself, on the basis of my two visits to Taipei, I can’t say a bad word! Helpful and kind. Cultural, mostly communicating in English, and very organized.
As a metaphor of this nation I could consider… Taipei Metro :) Very clean (after crossing the characteristic yellow line, right in front of the gates to the platform, you can’t eat, drink or chew gum), perfectly organized (people before entering the car set up in a row in specially plotted lines) and extremely comfortable. I’ve never explored any place in the world in such an easy manner.
By this perfect metro we went to Taipei Zoo, even though I’m not a fan of keeping wild animals in captivity. The giant area (165 ha), lush tropical greenery and mass of majestic animals from around the world. Among them, the greatest treasure – Great Pandas, couple as a matter of fact, and their child which was born a year ago (during our visit, unfortunately, went for a nap).
Pandas have been offered to Taiwan by China. China in fact, use their national treasure to diplomacy with other countries. If Chinese company will get a big contract in your country – you will get a panda. If you’ll sell China some new technology – you’ll get a panda. Example: France agrees to sell China uranium – zoological park in central France gets a couple of teddies.
For the first time China has offered pandas to Taiwan in 2005. However, Taiwan’s president rejected the gift, fearing it’d be a symbol of submission of Taiwan to China. China reiterated the proposal after the presidential elections in Taiwan in 2008 which emerged a new leader. Bears of significant names Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yaun means in Mandarin reunion, finally went to the Taipei Zoo.
Looking at these amazing animals was so sweet that very soon we had to have something to drink to refine our throats. Gondola took us 700 meters above the nearby hills where we could try golden brew – tea and explore its plantations.
At an altitude of approx. 1000 m above sea level is manufactured the most popular drink of Taiwanese – oolong tea (derived from the word Wulong which significant black dragon).
In the local center of tea I learned, for example that all kinds of tea (black, green, white etc.) are produced exactly from the same plant – tea bushes. The different is machining process. For example, the tea leaves to produce oolong, are subjected to much shorter fermentation than normal tea.
Taiwan has such superb conditions for growing this plant that in the world of tea production, has such recognition as Tuscany or Burgundy in the production of wines.
The bitter end
Back to the desert was in extremely hostile hours for man. Departure from Taipei at 11.45 pm local time and arrives in Dubai at 4.15 am local time. In the struggle for survival during the flight helped hated coffee (with the appropriate amount of sweetener is drinkable), great and fun crew and stock of tea purchased directly at the source :)
Be sure to check out GoPro video from the trip!