10 Things I Miss about Taiwan

It all seems so distant now. Then again, it’s only been five months since I got back here in the Philippines. The memories become fresh and vivid once again whenever I take a look at all my photos – glimpses of my journey in Taiwan. I miss that lovely country – a place where I had done many firsts, seen many things, and experienced life in many ways. With all the things, places, and people I have become fond of, it has been a challenge to think of the top 10 things that I truly miss about Taiwan. However, when I recall of things past, these things are what keeps recurring in my memory.

Night markets are very popular in Taiwan. Each city (that I know) has more than one. I lived in Taichung and I was able to visit all four night markets while I was there. The first one was the Providence Night Market, a name my JTA-mates and I invented because it’s just beside our university of the same name. It’s the smallest compared to the others I’ve been to but it’s convenient and sells cheap but yummy food and nice stuff. The other night markets we went to were Dong Hai, Feng Chia, and Yi Zhong. These three are quite far, the last being the farthest. They’re also bigger and if not careful, I could have gotten lost especially since I’m not a fluent speaker of Mandarin. The choices though, are more diverse and my friends and I had a better shopping and food-tripping experience.

My university is located in the mountains so the paths are sloping upward. There aren’t many guards, only CCTV cameras all over the campus and black dogs who like following you when you least expect it. These dogs seem to be the real “guards” of the place. Getting to my classes require a 5-10 minute hike from my dormitory. I miss this place because there are days when there aren’t too many people around and I can take a stroll, alone in my thoughts and breathing in the beauty that surrounds me. I love the library with its private movie rooms, the boys’ gym with their nice equipment, the cafeteria with its awesome food, the bleachers at night, the bridge where a famous Taiwanese drama was shot, the automatic doors of my dormitory which unlocks whenever I flash my id on the sensor, and my dorm room.

Originally, I’m not a tea drinker because I prefer coffee more. However, in Taiwan, I learned to love this drink so much. Why? Because in almost all the restaurants I’ve been to, tea is offered for FREE! It was here where I was able to try rose tea for the first time. I think it looked lovely with the floating petals and its pink color. Milk tea, meanwhile, is really cheap. I liked this drink even before I went to Taiwan but while I was there, I discovered that milk tea was really cheap. A large cup is around 35-50NT only due to the numerous milk tea shops present everywhere. I think it’s the only shop that actually competes with 7-eleven and Family Mart in terms number. One of my JTA-mates orders at least one Bubble Milk Tea everyday while I only order from time to time. It’s because I love their Yakult drinks as well which were blended with fresh fruits. My favorite is our school cafeteria’s Peach Yakult.

If the drinks are that good, imagine the taste of the food. I love love love the food there – even the vegetables. I’m more of a meat-eater but there I learned to eat my vegetables because each meal always has at least one vegetable dish. In my cafeteria however, the meat is always accompanied by three vegetable viands. Surprisingly enough, I learned to love it because it actually tastes good. If this is how our vegetables here at home tasted even before I went to Taiwan, it would not have been hard to convince me to eat them.

Aside from this, I love their dumplings or shui jiao which are cheap and are of different kinds – pork, vegetable, curry, kimchi, and shrimp – and could either be steamed or fried. Aside from this, their hotpot or huo guo is really amazing with all the flavor of the vegetables and the meat together in either beef or milk soup. It is served on a metal bowl or ceramic bowl placed on top of another metal can with a burning flame inside. Thinking about it right now makes me want to eat one again. To top it all of, the drinks, rice, and ICE CREAM are unlimited. I can finish around 10 small cups of ice cream whenever we eat a hotpot restaurant

Another favorite of mine would be the stinky tofu or chou tofu. Unusual as it seems, I love the taste especially when its topped with vegetables and a spicy sauce. My JTA-mates can’t stand the smell but my nose doesn’t seem to mind it. Taiwanese friends are amazed when I tell them I enjoy it while the foreigners think I’m disgusting. Haha.

 Then, there’s their bread. Who can ever forget about their bread? Bread shops in my country are nothing compared to the bread shops in Taiwan. They’re not only cheap but they’re so tasty. The flavor, the presentation, EVERYTHING! There are days when my lunch is simply bread bought from either of the two bread shops inside my university. I love the various kinds of bread with meat toppings and their donuts topped with dark chocolate. Sigh.

It was while I was in Taiwan that I discovered my love for travel. The realization hit me when I chose not to use some of my money for shopping but instead opted to use it to visit someplace else and try the things each place offers – whether it is a theme park, or a biking ride in an island in Kaohsiung. For me, that meant something because I really really really love shopping. I spend a lot on clothes but during that time, I was more than happy to give that up in exchange for great adventures to new places. Aside from Taichung and all its nooks and crannies, we were able to go to Taipei City and Fu Long, Kaohsiung and Cijin Island, Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake, Hsinchu’s Mountains and the Smangus tribe, Changhua’s Lu Gang, Chiayi’s mountains, and Taoyuan’s Hakka Culture. When I come back, I want to be able to visit the rest of Taiwan such as Miaoli, Hualien, Yilan, Tainan, and Pingtung.

(c) Jonathan Kuo

Going to the Hsinchu mountains and meeting the Smangus tribe was one of the most memorable trips I had. It was rainy during the first day but it did not ruin the very lovely atmosphere and warm welcome of the tribe. They lived in the mountains but I was able to see that they weren’t left out in terms of technological advancements. They were able to perfectly assimilate technology while keeping their traditional culture. With the support of our government, it is possible for our Filipino tribes to be able to achieve this as well. They will be able to earn for a living while continuously preserving their unique cultures.
During our 10 km hike to the mountains to see the Yaya Qparung, the large trees taken care of by the Smangus people, we passed through the forest paths, bamboo trails, and bridges overlooking rivers and streams. It was all so amazing and to take it all in at the same time was overwhelming. A time came when we stopped by a stream and had a drink, another first for me. I was so close to nature and seeing it all made me feel even closer to God.
(c) Michael Tamayo
Being able to talk to strangers was another exciting thing for me because I knew I was in a foreign country where nobody knew who I really was. I approached strangers to ask for directions and despite the language barrier, they tried their best to help us. Then there are strangers who remained strangers until they became my acquaintances and friends. It was the thrill of being a stranger to everything and everything being a stranger to me.
(c) Cherie Su
“We were strangers, starting out on a journey
Never dreaming, what we’d have to go through
Now here we are, I’m suddenly standing
At the beginning with you

No one told me I was going to find you

Unexpected, what you did to my heart

When I lost hope, you were there to remind me

This is the start…”

At the Beginning, from the movie Anastacia

From strangers to friends – it’s amazing how things turn out in unexpected ways and create an impact in one’s life. I miss all of them, especially those few who really remain close to my heart. I hope that wherever they are right now, they are faring well and are happy with their lives.
(c) Al Lee
“…And life is a road that I wanna keep going

Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing

Life is a road, now and forever, wonderful journey

I’ll be there when the world stops turning

I’ll be there when the storm is through

In the end I wanna be standing

At the beginning with you.”

 – At the Beginning, from the movie Anastacia
These two special people are the ones whom I have been with through thick and thin throughout this entire journey. Without them, it would have been much tougher and less fun so I’m really thankful because they were there to share this experience with me. I miss them too despite being able to still see them in school and spend a little bit of time. I miss our crazy and exciting adventures. I miss our late night conversations and food trips. I hope we’d still be able find the time to be together and have more of those adventures in the future.
(c) Al Lee
Yes. It’s the freedom and the independence that I miss the most. I got to make my own choices which was scary but at the same time allowed me to prove to myself that I will make the better choice at the end of the day. I was able to prove that I have not forgotten the things that my family has taught and instilled in me. For the not so good choices, I don’t regret them because they’re not actually mistakes but were, I believe, what was meant to happen in order for me to learn something.
Back home, my freedom is limited once again as I live under the house rules of my family. It’s okay though because I know that my limits are set for all the right reasons.
 ***
In missing something or someone, we have a better and fuller appreciation of that thing or person. I know that I’ll never be able to repeat the things that have already occurred and even when I get the chance to obtain this thing or meet this person once again, the experience will be different altogether. When I think about it though, it’s better that way. Perhaps we think that we gain things and then we lose them. In reality though, I believe that we only gain something and never actually lose anything.
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2 thoughts on “10 Things I Miss about Taiwan

  1. You do know we can do all these great things. (And it’s a plus that we do them in our very own, Philippines) Remember our plans to make this place awesome? 😀

    1. Yes and I hope we will be able to do so. :> I love our own country no matter what. I just miss Taiwan from time to time. Haha. It’s very endearing. And of course, a lot of great memories were formed there. 🙂

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