The News Lens
By: Jenny Peng
The best description I’ve ever heard of Taiwan was from a Canadian friend who spent over a year on the island teaching English. After spending time in Japan and Southeast Asia as well, he said that Taiwan was his favourite place to live and work. Because, as he described, the island is the combination of modern, reliable transportation and telecommunication networks of a country like Japan and has the relics and rural beauty of a historically agricultural society like Vietnam and Cambodia.
My friend’s words echoed in my mind as I set out on a cross-island road trip with seven other travelers and Jerry Chen, an English and Mandarin-speaking tour guide, starting from Taipei. Sometimes, it takes someone on the outside to notice what those on the inside have become immune to.
After many trips to the island, those observations from my friend gave me a new appreciation for why this place is the most convenient and diverse destination in Asia for an inexpensive road trip. My only regret is not spending more time in Tainan and at a few other unforgettable stops along the way.
For first time travelers to Taiwan, Taipei offers a slew of ‘must-see’ attractions, including standing on top of the world’s fifth tallest building, Taipei 101, and trying some of the ‘most famous dumplings on Earth’ at Din Tai Fung. With access to a van, I strayed from the typical city tourist spots and ventured 40 minutes east outside of Taipei from Regent Taipei to the small, mountainous town of Pingxi, which used to be a coal mining town. [FULL STORY]