I have been very lucky to have been able to travel to two other cities in Taiwan during my time here so far, spending a weekend each in Taichung and Tainan. These travel experiences were a great supplement to my Chinese language learning in the classroom in Taipei. In both of these cities the dominant languages are Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien, and English speakers are much less common than in Taipei, which has a large expat community. On both of these trips I was joined by fellow Sigur Grant recipient Josh Pope.
My experience in Taichung was quite interesting, as my local friend who was showing me around the city had to take care of his 8 year old cousin that day, so we brought her with us. Below are a few pictures of the places we went in Taichung:
On this day in Taichung, we went to the Botanical Gardens, The National Art Museum, Taichung Park, and walked around the downtown area.
In Tainan, we visited some of the oldest temples in Taiwan, went to one of the largest night-markets, and saw the ruins of a 17th century Dutch fort.
Tainan is also known within Taiwan for having excellent food:
As the supposed birthplace of Taiwanese Oyster Omelettes and Beef Noodles, the food did not disappoint. Tainan cuisine tends to be very sweet, and this is reflected in their preferred version of soy sauce- more of a soy syrup. Additionally Tainan’s tropical climate has the perfect weather to eat shaved ice desserts, like the mango one to the right.
You may have noticed that the 3 cities, Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan, all share the name Tai- with the island of Taiwan. This is because they are located in the north, middle, and south of the island respectively, and the second half of each name denotes the location. My Taiwanese friend Vince joked about the lack of creativity in city-naming here, but I find the naming convention amusing and hope to visit the other two Tai- cities (Taitung, and Taixi, which is actually a small fishing village according to my friends here who were very confused when I brought it up).
Overall, this experience in Taiwan has greatly improved both my Chinese language abilities and my understanding of Taiwanese culture.