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35th issue by YZU on July 2013

So far I have been in Taiwan residing for almost a year (ten months actually) and I have the opportunity to visit several places in Kaohsiung, where I live. It is ironic that Kaohsiung city collides to the shoreline, but swimming on the beaches is limited given the port of the city, in spite of that there are some places that allow getting into the water and have a nice afternoon full of fun, either alone or in good company. One of the things I like is sunset: my living place has a balcony that allows seeing it when the day is clear. I also like the festivals and night markets, full of everything to do: looking for a meal, trying luck on the games or just watching the merchandise. The festivals are quite alike; these offer food, fun and entertainment when they are in the city, fireworks usually are one of the most important attractions for the present. Also Kaohsiung port is placed between the coast and the Qijin Island, there are many shipyards and fishing places to look or even just to take a ride on a bike through the beach in the Island; there are also several restaurants where to have a great lunch or dinner along the road.

I am here in Taiwan for two years. I already spent ten months and, since my first month one of the first things that I had in my mind is visiting the entire Island. So far, I visited some places such as Hualien, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Nantou, Yilan and many tourist attractions in Taipei such as: Taipei 101, Chiang Kai Chek Memorial Hall, National Concert Hall and National Palace Museum.  Yet I have much more to explore. However, I realized each place where I have been has its specific beauty and originality. I never finish contemplating this wonderful nature that the Formosa Island is. So, when someone will ask me which places in Taiwan I will miss after my two years, what should I say? To me it’s like a dilemma. Let’s me paint this painting of this wonderful Island where now I am living and, I am sure you will understand my dilemma. 

Taiwan in My Heart

Taiwan can be considered by many people as a small island, but for a small island has everything you always need and want. Taiwan is a land with many faces known by a lot of people as the Formosa Island or Beautiful Island. It´s stunning landscapes include from white beaches lined with basalt cliffs, marble-walled gorges, tropical forests, mountains and big cities, each of them give you a different experience and a new memory for the book of your journey. It also has a dynamic food culture, temple towns, hot-spring villages and it is full of adventures in both city and rural areas, Taiwan if for sure in my opinion one of the must go destinations in Asia. Another thing that I like is that Taiwan give you the opportunity to do a lot of outdoor activities like hiking, diving, experiencing indigenous culture, or just relaxing in a pristine and safe environment. Walking free in the street and enjoying life, that is something really difficult to do in our countries.

Places in Taiwan I will miss after returning to my country, well, is an interesting question, because, Taiwan itself is beautiful and most beautiful are the Taiwanese people; But if I have to describe an specific place 淡水(Danshui) is the one.

Just a train ride away from central Taipei, Danshui is where northern Taiwan meets the water it's a seaside town, named after the Danshui River that was once the region's shipping and commerce center. Taipei locals flee the city to breathe the fresh air along the coast, or hop on a ferry and sail along the river. Strolling the waterfront is a simple pleasure anyone can peruse traditional handicrafts and sample street food in the open-air markets, hang out in the area's riverside parks or fisherman's wharf, or enjoy a meal and a drink at one of the outdoor restaurants. Many flock to the Danshui waterfront to watch the sunset into the Taiwan Strait it's a quaint spot to perch and experience a different, fresher side of Taipei.

Commonly referred to by its’ English name, Tamsui was probably the most tourist-friendly area in Taipei I ever seem. Or at least tourists seeking a “real” Taiwan experience.

Connected to Nature

The truth is that I haven´t traveled around Taiwan so much, I have been to Taichung, Kaohcheung, Tainan, Hualien, Beigang and of course Taipei but besides Taipei, I don´t know any of the other places that well to say I will mis one of them more over the other. The truth is that I can not choose one place overall and it doesn´t even matter how many more places I get to know in Taiwan, the reality is that I will miss Taiwan, no matter what place, what city, what time of year. Taiwan has been one of the nicest countries I have ever been and there is something in this tiny island that makes me feel at peace. Currently I live in Taipei, in a hill in the Beitou Area where my university is and so far this is my favorite place in Taipei. I have always been fond of nature and the campus is perfect for nature lovers, there are trees everywhere, I wake up to the sound of birds and fall sleep to the sound of insects with the occasional motorbikes passing outside my window or music students singing outside my room.

Inherently whenever someone moves to a new place, things might seem unfamiliar at first. Everyday things we might take for granted like streets, buildings and sights are new and unknown. But one thing will always be instantly familiar: food. At first taste you can be reminded of all the habitual places you are used to or bring lots of good memories to mind.

Taiwan is a good place for people of all nationalities to get a taste from home, or for people looking to get their favorite cuisines from all around the world. Food is indeed culture, and it can evoke your own culture or it can indeed be one of the most direct ways to experience new culture.

After a long while of thinking what places I will miss most in Taiwan, it dawned on me: they are all food related. Food is a reflection of culture, history, customs and traditions and indeed in Taiwan it’s no exception. The two places I will miss most in Taiwan are Taipei and Kaohsiung.

The thought of leaving Taiwan in a year’s time, and saying goodbye to my good friends and the adventures I have par-took in, make me think about how I will feel on the very last day standing on the Heart of Asia soil Taiwan.

Coming from a developing small country in Swaziland which is situated in the Sub Saharan region of Africa, I had no expectations about how Taiwan would be except for the information on how remarkable and well developed the health system is, which was what inspired me to come and pursue my studies in Taiwan and I am Thankful to ICDF for giving me the opportunity to attain skills of such nature. It has been 10 months in Taiwan and the is so much to say about the places I have visited and still to visit. I think the most important factor which I cannot stop raving about is how friendly, polite and nice Taiwanese people are, with that alone makes me enjoy my stay thus giving me the zeal to visit more places whenever I get the chance to.

I have been in Taiwan for only nine months now but I have had an amazing experience already and there are a lot of places and things I will certainly miss when I go back to my home country.

Taiwan has a lot of beautiful places to visit, and these are great places for relaxation and having fun with friends. One time I went out to Tamsui to celebrate a friend’s birthday and I really had a great time on the boat. I also had the chance to visit Taipei Arena Iceland where I had an incredible experience. It was fun; though I almost strained my ankle since it was my very first time to do ice skating; I would find myself on the floor every now and again. Surprisingly these places are affordable which makes it easier for anyone to recurrently go there.

At times when I feel like I have to take a little break from schoolwork, shopping is the first thing that comes to my mind. Sometimes it is mind soothing to just stroll around & appreciate what retailers got on display.

One place I will miss the most in Taiwan has to be my university (National Yang-Ming University). This is the main reason I came to Taiwan and I always value every minute I spent here. Had I not been accepted to study here, I wouldn’t have been granted the ICDF scholarship and experienced the beauty of Taiwan. This place has shaped my life for the better with its hospitable learning environment, the people and the beautiful surroundings. This is a place where I get to appreciate nature, with the beautiful surroundings, the hiking trails and the breath taking view of city from the top of the university. This is the place I’d like to call my home in Taiwan.

Another place I will miss has to be Shilin Night Market which is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan. Coupled with safety and the vibrant night life, Shilin Night Market is one of the shopping destinations in Taiwan.

I will miss going night markets. 

There are many of them in Taiwan, but I am familiar with two close to my University Shipai and Shilin Night market. It is possible to find a big variety of products and services. During day the street where these markets are located are quiet and somehow empty, but at night it will transform to noisy and crowded place. Some questions I wondered when I heard about night market is how can they work at night? Is there any concern about safety? Now I have to say after visiting many times this places I never felt unsafe walking around the shops or food stores. Even when I don't remember seeing police walking around the market I can say that security is guaranteed. All in all it is convenient to have this sort of market operating at night because they are not only a shopping place, but a recreational as well.

In my opinion two things stand out in these places: the safety and bargains. Taipei and its markets are safe place to visit. Usually night markets close about midnight and because among international students I never heard about they have been victim of some criminal act I would say you can visit these places until closing time.