Before this trip, I had no idea about the extent of Japanese domination as a world power. Then I go to Taiwan and understand why the first time I met Nel I was sure she was Japanese.
Nel takes us to the Gold Mountain where we see the impact of Japanese rule over this people. I can still feel the no-nonsense aura of typical Japanese people. Everything looks like it was planned. You want to behave yourself here. The Japanese are long gone now but who knows, if you try anything foolish, some Ninja or Samurai might jump out of the meditation garden and peel your head off. (I have an active imagination and Taipei didn’t help).
We head to the Yehliu Geo park. The terrain is like nothing I have ever seen. Taiwan used to be water, nothing else. But then the waters receded. The national park is everything that was once beneath.
My favorite part of our tour is Jiufen. The street market is everything. We eat and eat and yet spend less than 10 dollars apiece. Taiwan is a foodie heaven and your pockets won’t notice.
We take silly photos, I and my friends. I tease Gift endlessly for her choice of shoes on the trip. Everyone else wore sneakers for the trip up the mountain, everyone except vain Gift and her nice sandals. It has been three years since I last teased her in person and so I enjoy this very much.
When I told people I was going to Taiwan their first reaction usually was ‘why?’
To be honest, even I didn’t expect this. The Spanish called it ‘beautiful’. They were off the mark by a couple of miles. All they could see was the outside, the shell of this place. They had no idea that it shielded a people, a landscape that was even better than they thought.
Taiwan is a pearl but until you visit all you will see is an oyster shell. That is beautiful too but no one ever fought wars over mere oyster shells.