My Initial Impressions of Taiwan

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Jibei, Penghu

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

At first glance, Taiwan may appear to be a highly populated small island with a nation of hard-working, career-driven people. But once you escape the hustle and bustle of the cities and begin peeling away the layers, you will come to realize that there is more to Taiwan than high-tech factories and bumper-to-bumper traffic.

When you stand on the peak of one of Taiwan’s mountains for the first time and witness the clouds hovering below you, when you explore the beautiful white sandy beaches on the islands of Penghu, when you gaze at the dramatic, visually stunning Qing Shui Cliff as it extends into the aqua blue water, or when you find yourself surrounded by the vast marble rock faces of Taroko Gorge, that is when you will truly realize and appreciate the true beauty of this tiny island.

I, too, am guilty of previously judging Taiwan. I secretly doubted Taiwanese when they claimed that Taiwan is a beautiful place and when they told me all I had to do is escape the cities. I internally rolled my eyes when they described the picturesque places and the unique natural landscapes.

Little did I know that I was the one who was wrong. All my previous misconceptions and preconceived notions made me feel highly embarrassed. All I had to do was hop on a train, a bus, a scooter, or in a car to explore the prized natural possessions that comprises this magnificent island that I currently call home.

Taiwan is a beautiful place – the people, the views, the scenery, the food, the traditions and culture, the overall friendly atmosphere! It is not surprising that it was once called Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful place.’ I love to explore the magic of the place and appreciate all it has to offer. Living in Taiwan has been a very rewarding experience for me, both personally and professionally. It is a place where you can sometimes get physically lost but internally found.

Life has a lot twists and turns and I believe everything happens for a reason – and nearly 15 years later, I still remember how Taiwan was chosen as the destination.

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Qingshui Cliff, East Coast of Taiwan
Let’s Have Some Fun – A Guessing Game

Yes, you read it right! Taiwan is the place that I have called home for nearly 15 years (!!!) !! – in less than a month, I will celebrate my 15th ‘Taiwanversary.’ And in celebration of spending nearly a decade and a half on this island, I thought I would begin my trip down memory lane with a little bit of trivia.

During the winter on 1999, one of my best friends and I decided to embark on the journey of a lifetime – to live, work, and travel around Asia. We considered three options – Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Korea was eliminated fairly quickly; however, we found making the decision between Taiwan and Japan rather difficult.

So the trivia question is (a guessing game again):

How did we make the decision to teach in Taiwan instead of Japan?

~1~ A coin toss

~2~ Paper, scissors, stone (or Rock, paper, scissors)

~3~ We thoroughly researched both locations and made the decision based on facts

Be sure to cast your vote and let me know why you picked that particular answer. I would love to hear from you.

The answer will be revealed next Wednesday. Until then, I will be publishing my next article in my series, Taiwanese weddings, on Saturday – so be sure to check it out!

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Hehuanshan (Hehuan Mountain), Taiwan
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Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
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Another picture of Jibei Island, Penghu
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39 thoughts on “My Initial Impressions of Taiwan

  1. Wow! Congratulation on your 15th anniversary in Taiwan. It’s such a beautiful country and some of the photos you posted brought me back when we were there.

    So who trough the coin between you and your friend? 🙂

  2. I guess coin toss, because I’m sure nobody thoroughly researches before moving abroad. Might be paper-rock-scissors, but coin toss is more of a random way and I’d guestimate you put that in there because it’s true.

    Well?

  3. Okay, I picked #2 in your poll, however, I believe you first did your research – Then with a coin-flip you picked your final destination:)
    Never knew Taiwan was so beautiful!

  4. The suspens is on, ha!
    I chose coin toss, but CrazyChineseFamily is giving me doubts… 猜拳 is indeed a popular decision making method in Taiwan/Asia 😄

  5. I can remember vaguely how beautiful Taiwan is… I think it’s time to go back and visit soon. I do have families there to host me… Hmm…

    P.S. I randomly guessed number 3.

  6. I really hope you decided to go on a coin toss. It would be a great story. Lovely pictures. I completely agree that most people overlook countries based on their cities. I focus my travels on getting out of cities, so I really enjoyed your Taiwan pictures and learning a little more about the country as a whole.

    1. I am with you! I love escaping the cities and exploring the true beauty of the place. It is amazing what lies beyond the city limits! Thanks for guessing – the answer will be revealed later today!

  7. I’m guessing stone-paper-scissors. It’s more interesting and fun than a coin toss. You hinted earlier that luck was involved, ruling out research.

    As usual, your photos are excellent.

  8. Just out of curiosity, why was Korea eliminated as an option rather quickly? And I know that you love Taiwan now, but have you ever regretted the decision not to go to Korea now that the country seems like such a cool and happening place with the influence of K-pop and K-drama having such a big influence in the West, not to mention Asia?

    1. I knew several people who were teaching in Taiwan and Japan at the time and they praised the friendliness of the people and the lifestyle. Also, making the transition was an easier one because we had their assistance.

      And honestly, I have never regretted my decision. I believe everything happens for a reason and choosing Taiwan was one of those.

  9. “Taiwan is a beautiful place – the people, the views, the scenery, the food, the traditions and culture, the overall friendly atmosphere! It is not surprising that it was once called Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful place.’ ”

    I am happy to call Taiwan home. 🙂 I remember I was so nervous when I first arrived in Taipei and the people around me were very patient and understanding. As somebody who has anxiety disorder/panic attacks, it made a huge difference. 🙂

    I nodded through the whole post. It’s very well-written. 🙂

    I found out about Taiwan through my Taiwanese husband. He gave me a film called Eat Drink Man Woman. After I watched the movie, I called my then boyfriend now husband, “Wow! Cool country!” xD I told my husband I thought the island had similar weather like Hawaii and mainly aboriginal people lived there who spoke Taiwanese. My husband laughed but he thought it was actually kind of refreshing with my response. That was my first impression of Taiwan. 🙂 Whoops.

    1. Thanks for sharing!! I love how your initial impressions came from a movie and included aboriginal people. Also, how you associated Taiwan’s weather to Hawaii was really interesting as well.

  10. Taiwan is a gorgeous little place! I was awed by the beauty of the island when I first stayed there and look forward to taking my husband someday.

  11. If you even thought of Taiwan, of course, you had want to make your decision the rock, scissors and paper way! That’s the Chinese way. Haha.. Even here Malaysia, we Chinese still sometimes do that to make the choice between two seemingly difficult to pick choice. At least, some of us crazier guys do! Haha again!

    1. That is so true! Taiwanese children LOVE to play this game and there are a few Taiwanese drinking games similar to paper, scissors, stone! Thanks for taking the time to read and vote! I look forward to checking out your blog.

  12. I went with rock, paper, scissors too. Just because it seemed the only ‘logical’ way. I’m also wondering why Korea was eliminated quickly.

    1. As I told a previous commenter, I knew several people who were teaching in Taiwan and Japan at the time and they praised the friendliness of the people and the lifestyle. At the time, moving to Asia was a huge adventure for me and having people to help would make the transition that much easier.

  13. I went with coin toss. It’s amazing how it is that some places captivate us and others really don’t, and there doesn’t seem to be any formula to determine which places we’re going to like or want to live in…

  14. I always love reading your posts about Taiwan. Although this one is especially dedicated to the deeper understanding of the local culture, any other posts of yours transmits the desire to look deeper into the soul of this inspiring country. I would say a cointoss, too, looking forward to your answer.

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