Our stay in Taiwan (a little over two months) started with 17 days in Taichung. We didn’t actually choose to begin there for any particular reason. It was only the fact that our first positive reply on Workaway came from Taichung that ended up dictating our starting the round-the-island trip on that city.
We shall delve into our days there in more detail some other time, but today we wanted to give you a taste of our first contact with Taiwan, by showing you 19 small bits of what we saw and experienced.
After having spent over four months between Malaysia and Singapore — two countries in which English is widely spoken and the Latin alphabet is ubiquitous — arriving in Taiwan for a two months stay meant having to deal with characters we could hardly discern from one another.
If you’re up for a taste of the traditional Taiwanese dessert, Mitsumame (written in Japanese characters in the picture) is one of the places to check out. It consists of shaved ice that is usually topped with a sweet syrup and a multitude of different additional toppings like fruit, taro, red sweet beans, mung beans, sweet potato, peanuts, …
Having fun exploring the streets of Taichung with Nikki, a fellow Workawayer (and wedding MC extraordinaire, as well as a great singer 😮 ) from Melbourne who called upon her Chinese heritage to help us navigate some of the Taiwanese culture.
Procession (one of many!) for the celebrations of the 100th birthday of an important temple dedicated to Mazu, a goddess that is very dear to Taiwan, revered as a patron of seafarers.
What best way to cool yourself off on a oh-so-hot Taiwanese summer day than dipping your feet in cold water while doing a little dance? That’s exactly what Mariana and Nikki decided to do just outside the super-cool National Taichung Theater, which was due to host a Death Note musical, by the way.. 😮
A small (and colourful!) packaging delight filled with cartoonish characters and other “less adult” visual elements, as it would be dubbed in the West. We came upon this little treasure while scouring through Taichung’s konbinis (we can spend ages inside these, every time we arrive in a new country).
Rainbow Village, one of Taichung’s most unexpected sightseeing spots (and definitely the most colourful), used to be just a regular veteran’s village, until the talented Mr. Huang — a veteran himself — decided to paint it over with hundreds of colourful and surrealistic characters.
An awesomely pink triceratops rampaging through the streets near the Calligraphy Greenway, a green corridor that cuts from north to south of Taichung’s West District, connecting the National Museum of Natural Science and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The Greenway breathes culture and leisure right from the heart of Taichung.
In addition to the amazing natural light that shines upon the city (we saw awe-inspiring skies with big beautiful clouds during our stay in Taichung, especially towards dusk), we also loved to wander around the streets on a rainy afternoon, gazing at the lights reflected on the pavement.
Looking for unexpected (and unexplainable) small art pieces? Look no further than Taiwan. (though this awesome artist — U-ram Choe — is South Korean)
Looking for love? Apparently all you need is a pink cat-head.
Ahhh shaved ice with red beans, taro and sweet potato.. the traditional Taiwanese dessert that Miguel and Mariana couldn’t bring themselves to have a second time. Well, at least we did try it once, at Taichung’s huge Feng Chia Night Market. However, we can’t say we would’ve done it if it wasn’t for Nikki, our cicerone for that evening.
..and speaking of food discoveries which we won’t really wish to encounter again, we present you stinky tofu! Another Taiwanese staple we tried on that same night at Feng Chia. The smell actually didn’t bother us that much, and the taste was pretty.. bearable in our opinion. Turns out after a few more weeks in Taiwan we couldn’t stand the smell any longer.
Taichung isn’t a particularly inspiring city to marvel at from above, but it does provide some awesome views of the sky. This sunset was captured from one of the top floors of Chungyo Department Store (if you’re ever in Taichung, please make sure to check out the Eslite Bookstore inside this building 😮 so cool…)
We found this beautiful classic bicycle inside the Taiwan Sun Cake Museum, housed in a beautiful century-old building boasting a sophisticated mix of Japanese and European architecture. The sun cake is probably the biggest staple food coming out of Taichung, and here you can learn its history and even how to bake it.
Nick Dong’s “Specular Reflection”, one of the amazing temporary exhibitions we were lucky to come upon when visiting the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.
The second most populous city in Taiwan today (recent stats put it just a few hundred inhabitants above Kaohsiung), Taichung saw major development during Japanese rule of the country. The city’s first markets, parks and major transportation hubs were built by the Japanese.
Just another one of the thousands of street food joints in Taiwan where you can lose yourself. Actually we’re not sure if this one can classify as a street food stall, since it’s more of a stall outside of a small shop. That sign really caught our attention, though.
This photo marked the moment when Miguel started his relationship with Laimo, the Malayan tapir character that has been taking Taiwan and Japan by storm. It’s okay, though. Mariana doesn’t seem to mind much.
The night we went on the roof of Plan A (the hostel we were Workawaying at) to check out fireworks with Kim, the Korean globetrotter (like that title, Kim? 😀 )