From tranquil mountains to fine museums and swanky eateries, Taiwan can wake even the most jaded tourist’s palate
4/1/2017 2:18:27 AM
|written By : Dev Inder Bhalla|
I have visited over 65 countries but Taiwan was not one of them so when India Se Media was invited to be part of a 5-day media familiarisation trip to Kaohsiung and Tainan I was happy to volunteer.
The trip, sponsored by Scoot-Tiger Airways in association with the Kaohsiung and Tainan Tourism Bureaus, turned out to be a delightful eye-opener in more ways than one.
One normally associates Taiwan only with bustling Taipei. Luckily we were bypassing it for the less-trodden towns of Kaohsiung (Taiwan’s largest port and second largest city) and Tainan (Taiwan’s capital from 1683–1887 under the Qing dynasty).
The early morning flight on BizScoot class from Singapore to Kaohsiung was very comfortable having offered delicious Singaporean specialties like Hainanese Chicken Rice and paired wine. There was WiFi and access to movies on one’s portable electronic devices.
A smooth four hours later we were in Kaohsiung airport where we were whisked away almost immediately by our efficient hosts and put on a comfortable coach to Tainan, just 45 minutes away.
Though we were forewarned that the weather could vary and range from 17 to 27 degrees it was still a surprise when we found ourselves in an overcast and nippy morning having to unpack and wear our jackets after disembarking from the bus for lunch and sightseeing.
Lunch was at a jauntily named place called Sun’s Great Restaurant, a hipster Bed & Brunch facility in the historic Anping district, designed and run by a group of young architects. We were offered large western style meals with a range of ‘sunwiches’ and artisanal coffees and teas.
After lunch we went on a walking tour of Anping Old Street, where the Dutch first established themselves in Taiwan (then known as Formosa). They ruled from 1624 until 1662 and were ousted by Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) from the Chinese mainland. We then visited the Anping Tree House which is a massive banyan tree which has completely enveloped the abandoned warehouses of Old Tait & Company. The museum on the premises highlights the history of the Dutch occupation.
Tainan, despite being the fourth largest city if Taiwan, is a refreshingly low-rise, laid-back town and the main mode of transport are two-wheelers – scooters and bicycles. T-Bikes are available for hire in several areas and are free or at low cost for locals. So, after trying the famous Taiwanese ‘bubble’ tea, we rode T-bikes along the tree lined promenade of Lin Mo Niang Memorial Park.
For dinner we went to the Night Market to try the exotic range of offerings from the several open-air food stalls including whole deep-fried squid in batter and the foul smelling ‘stinky Tofu’ which I bravely ventured to taste. Not recommended for the faint hearted!