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10. My Travel Experience in Taiwan

My English name is Raphael Munthali and my Chinese name is Mo de li. The Mo de li came into existence because it was easier to translate my surname “ Munthali” into Chinese sounding than the first name Raphael. Am at National Cheng Kong University (NCKU) in pursuit of International Graduate Programme in Civil Engineering Management (ICEM). Though friends call me zhai nan, I feel each one bears that name and the only difference is the degree of the name. This name applies within the week days and an exemption over the weekends.

Upon touching this Island; the spirit of traveling and site seeing was induced in us. Indeed, we were exposed to a variety of places some of which are museums, hotels, religious temples and scenic beauty. This denotes that learning is not only by virtue of having someone in front of you, rather one can also take a look at conserved innovations over time and draw lessons. The inducement triggered the zeal for travel and site seeing in me.

Tainan City is steeped in cultural history; its canal might someday become the “Venice” in Asia. Yvonne our tour guide made us fall in love with Tainan, the same way that she has, and it only took her one day to do this. My class mates and I visited Tainan two days before the TICA Tournament, and on the second day of our visit Yvonne took us on an unforgettable tour of the historical part of Tainan City. She showed us the area where Koxinga (or Cheng Cheng-kung) defeated the Dutch settlers in 1662 to reclaim Taiwan. At the Chihkan Tower formerly known as Fort Provintia we saw the nine stone tortoises each carved from a solid granite slab carrying on their backs giant royal stele written in both Chinese and Mandarin. Nearby the imposing Chihkan Tower with its vase shaped doors and various Pavilions dedicated to the god of wisdom, among others is a stunning reminder of the distinct architectural, artistic and cultural identity of Tainan’s past inhabitants. Yvonne took us to the Confucius Temple, the Guan-Gong Temple, the Koxinga Shrine, and the Official God of War Temple, her insights into the history and symbolism behind these monuments allowed us to not only see, but understand what these buildings meant to the people that made them and those that visit them until this day.

I had a number of traveling experiences in Taiwan that are worth writing about. I had two major ones, if you would! The first major one was a trip to the southern part of Taiwan. I traveled with my fellow classmates and my program manager to Pingtung. It was a refreshing experience! We left the chill Taipei and visited a place that has very warm and welcoming weather. It was like home, the beautiful sun was there and big open spaces were just lovely to view and admire. Well this trip was basically for a sport event, which was organized and planned by the ICDF and National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. It was a perfect and fun event, no questions about, and up of all, our team won the third place!

This first trip was well anticipated and yet went beyond my expectation. I mean I thought I would really enjoy and engage in the game, instead my arthritis did not allow me to join all the commotions. However, I am glad that I was at least there to cheer my team players and most importantly, I was able to assist the injured players; I sprayed their contracture muscles with muscle relaxants and I also managed to assist one with a minor sprained ankle by applying elastic roller around his injured ankle.

Travel in Taiwan was a concern for me, opportunity to study and discover the diversity cultural of Taiwan's people. We arrived in Taiwan, we have been surprised by Taiwanese hospitality, the most important was the willingness of authorities to help African's countries through the training and education of African's students. This part is the most worthwhile among several types of cooperation. Education and Training have always imprinted on people's mind and tie steadily the people together whatever the politic situation. We have again to learn more with Taiwan which opens its heart to help us then God bless ICDF and its partners and then courage, success and long life.

My experience traveling around Taiwan has been wonderful. Since I arrived I have visited as many places as I could, from Keelung to Tainan, from temples to museums and lakes to national parks, all I could reach.

The first place I visited in Taiwan was the National Palace Museum, which is an art gallery and museum located in Taipei. This museum holds and takes care of one of the biggest collections of Chinese artifacts and artworks in the whole world. It keeps around 300,000 objects, from miniatures of 3 to 4 millimeters to big statues of bronze of 3 meters height, but not all of the collections are exhibited in a once, usually the administration of the museum only exhibits a few pieces of the whole collection each season making, according to researchers and personnel from the museum, 20 to 25 years to see all the complete collection. Sometimes depending on the holydays the museum permits some special artwork to be exposed to the public. One of the second things to watch in the National Palace Museum is the beautiful gardens that decorate the surroundings making a perfect balance between the nature and the modern constructions of the civilization.

I was very interested in traveling around Asia before coming to Taiwan. Later I got the incredible news that I was accepted in Yuan Ze University. I was very excited because now I was going to study for my masters and also get to travel on holidays and vacations around Asia. On this past vacation I got to travel with my mom and girlfriend. My mom came to visit me from Guatemala and we had the chance to spend more than a month together. We were able to see many cities and some countries around Southeast Asia.

We started the trip my mom and I by flying to Manila in the Philippines. When we got to Manila we had the chance to observe how big this city is and all the different interesting areas that in has. We liked many things from this city; however our favorite thing was the mango juice. Later after staying in Manila for three days we flew to Hong Kong, were we had arrangements to take a cruise for 12 days. We stayed in Hong Kong for two days and then we got in this magnificent cruise. Furthermore, we had the chance to see the amazing light show in Hong Kong before the cruise left the port. In the cruise we had tons of things and activities that we could attend to, moreover I wanted to see every place and city that the cruise was going to take us to. The cruise was going to take us into four different countries. These countries were Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore. My mom and I had the chance to take a tour on each of the countries that we visited on the cruise. Each country had some many things to offer and to see as well.

Hi, my name is Jonathon O'Brien; an ICDF student studying in mechanical engineering in Tainan County. My traveling experience is very limited, I must admit, as I have been in Taiwan for only one semester.

I must go to palace museum, the park, the Zoo, to Kaohsiung and oh I heard the east coast is lovely. How would I get there when I cannot speak the language? I pondered to myself as I sat in the comfort of my room. The winter holiday was fast approaching and I needed to go to the east coast to experience the beach and the warm climate that I hear ever so often from the Taiwanese.” You have to go to the east coast “they say.

I decided to go to the east coast but how will I get there? It’s so far, I’ve never been so far. I reflected on my past experiences for the 6 months I’ve been here. I went back to my traveling experience in Taipei. The friendly people who were quick to offer their assistance to the foreigner who looked questioningly at the Chinese characters , who they saw and heard talking with the English of a child combine with what I would call signs language in an effort to communicate or just standing there with a puzzled look on their face. I remembered that the transportation system is foreigner friendly and efficient. You only have to remember the number of the bus or the colour of the line for the train and be there, they are always on time.

Traveling twenty-six hours across the globe to gain a graduate degree, I believe entitles me to tour a place I’ll call home for the next two years. I love traveling, experiencing new cultures and traditions and most of all, land-marking new memories. For me this is the joy of being alive accompanied with a sense of excitement. I came to Taiwan with limited expectations and an opened mind to try and appreciate what I might meet. Little did I know that Taiwan would have been so beautiful and captivating to the eyes, the mere reason I decided to document my experience of traveling in and around Taiwan.

Even though I haven’t mastered the language and the idea of so many people living in one place (since I come from a population forty times smaller than Taiwan), I still managed to make my way around this “huge” island. Accounting for the places I have visited so far, they include: Danshui, Sun Moon Lake, Keelung, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taitung, Tainan, Taoyuan, Pingtung, Hsinchu, and Jinguashi. Each have its own unique memory, for example Taipei and Danshui are the top shopping stops for a lady, since that’s one of our best traits (ha ha ha); Keelung holds a soft spot in my heart with the dolphin show (– my favorite animal) and the cool souvenirs as a keepsake; Hsinchu being the northern benchmark for Taiwan’s Industrial Parks – very interesting to me since I’ve never seen something of its nature before; and for Kaohsiung, two words sums it all “LOVE RIVER”.