Expect the unexpected in fusion-rich Taiwan

Calgary Herald
Date: November 2, 2019
By: Valerie Fortney

Expect the unexpected in fusion-rich Taiwan
VALERIE FORTNEY Updated: November 2, 2019
The Zen-inspired grounds of Pine Garden restaurant, not far from the National Palace Museum on the outskirts of Taipei, is a refreshing break from the bustling city. Photo by Renee Suen

It begins with a deep kneading of the toes and arches, followed by vigorous manipulation of the ankles, calves and shins. When the masseuse hits the odd pressure point, it’s enough to make you cry out for mercy.

After 10 days of navigating the winding streets of Taipei, hiking along rice paddies in Taitung County on the island’s southeastern coast and traipsing through museums and a world-renowned whisky distillery, I’ve finally succumbed to that most Taiwanese of pastimes: a foot massage that often crosses the threshold from relieving to outright painful.

Yet, it’s a small price to pay for experiencing the pleasures that abound on this tiny island a mere 160 kilometres from mainland China. The 23 million who call Taiwan home are indeed happy slaves to pleasure, in its myriad forms.

One of the first ways this is revealed to a first-time visitor is in the Taiwanese love affair with food. Taipei, its capital city, is home to several Michelin-starred chefs, night markets hawking both familiar and exotic finger foods, urbane coffee shops on every corner and bakeries serving up a host of fine pastry, including its most popular treat, pineapple cake. It’s also the home of bubble tea, a tasty drink that is now served around the world.    [FULL  STORY]

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