Sunday, May 20, 2007

Taiwan : My Trip

Republic of China and yet not so China..

Apparently, a place where this political figure ran to when he lost out to the incumbent in the "real" China and in this place, Taiwan, he called it the Republic of China as it wasn't the Communist China..

So, when Chiang Kai Shek went there, along with him was supporters, scholars, farmers. businessmen etc... They brought along with them the real "Culture" of China which fortunately survived the "Cultural Evolution" in China where religion and superstition were abolished..

Luckily most of the Chinese culture were still preserved in Taiwan.

Taiwan, being between 2 tectonic plates, has lots of earthquakes.. In fact, it was formed because of these earthquakes. Molten Magma coming out of the cracks between the 2 plates formed this island. And with the fertile land, Taiwan has the perfect soil for agriculture. It's abundance of fruits has its people enjoying fruity delicacies such as their mango ice desserts amongst others. With the fertile soil, some farm produce even evolved to be different from those grown in other parts of the world. The bittergourd for one, is white in Taiwan. And mangoes grown in Taiwan have a reddish exterior.

Being between the 2 plates, Taiwan has also many real natural hot water springs.
These springs were exploited to be spas. Bath-houses for the people. It's popularity probably also gained during its 50 years rule by Japan, whom were also spa lovers.
Even till now, Japanese living in Taipei, prefer to live near areas which have an abundance of such spas.

As Taiwan is an island, multiple coastal treasures can be found along their shores.
These "treasures" are cliffs and coastal rocks carved by the natural forces of the environment, namely, wind and water. These rocks have been shaped by the environment to resemble icons like the Queen's head. Some look like shoes and with some creative imagination, resemble almost anything. The country is trying to preserve these monumental cliffs and rocks but unless they house it or build a brick wall around it, there's no stopping Mother Nature.

In Taipei, there's no short of old streets with shops peddling the local delights.
Amongst them, there are also the aborgines peddling their produce and wares. Taiwan was not originally a Chinese country. As mentioned above, it was a place where the Chinese escaped to. The original people living on the island were tribal in nature. Until today, about 12-13 tribes survived the times and are still around. Their produce includes wild honey, tribal wooden wares and also rare mushrooms aka "LingZhi" which is a very popular herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating diseases such as cancer.

Back to the old streets of shops, it's hard not to notice the whiff of peculiar stench in the air. It is almost symbian in every such street. Apparently not due to bad sewarage but because Taiwanese have a passion for this particular food they call the "Smelly Toufu". The Toufu or beancurd is allowed to ferment in a vat before they are fried to a crispy exterior. The extreme heat from the oil fries the exterior beancurd skin but at the same time, the fermented toufu gives off its "fragrance". It almost smells like being in a farm where the animals defecate all at the same time. Perhaps that's the best description of the "fragrance"

Taiwan, besides its mentioned charms, is also a high technologically advanced country. In less than 100 years after urbanization, Taiwan is now one of the most advanced nation in Asia. Several PC components brands have their humble beginnings in Taiwan before being listed in NASDAQ.

It's teen culture mimicks that of Japan, with fashion that is loud and shortlived fads that have masses of followers. Some of the older generations still speaks Japanese due to its 50 year rule by Japan previously. Japanese food is also very popular in Taiwan and still made with a certain level of authenticity.

In its short history, it's had the Dutch colonial rule, the Chinese overthrowing the Dutch, the Japanese ruling it for 50 years and now with its current democratic government led by its first President, Chiang Kai Shek, Taiwan has come of age.

It is a colorful place to make port and for some, even to sink their roots and start a new life. To soak into another culture, to make new friends, to shop, to pray and to enjoy..

Today is 20th May 2007
Back from Taiwan for 3 days.
Can't wait to be back there again!

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