For summer, we traveled to the tropical island of Taiwan in the east, and explored all it has to offer. Devoting time to our friends and partners in the area, we established a home base in its capital city of Taipei for the month of June.
We believe that the new global luxury is experienced in the everyday, a particular attitude, mindset and commitment. For us, Taiwan exudes the very best, allowing the space to freely think without the pressures and pace bigger urban city centers dictate. Even its cityscape gives breathing room with a marked absence of skyscrapers, and its natural landscape, of rolling green hills and a rugged coastline, undoubtedly makes Taiwan a gem of a destination within the region.
Despite the challenges of a late, rainy, typhoon season due to its unique position in the Pacific, this “beautiful island,” as coined by the late Portuguese, who called Taiwan “Ilha Formosa,” exhibits a rare convergence of cultures, from its own aboriginal past, to partial colonization in the south by the Dutch, and by the Spanish in the north, during the 17th century. During the first Sino-Japanese War in the late 19th century, the Qing Empire later ceded Taiwan to Japan, who inhabited the island until the end of the second World War. Shortly thereafter, the Nationalists set-up government, retreating from their losses in Mainland China against the Communists in 1949 Taipei. As such, the island sees myriad influences, including a modern, mainstream, Mandarin-speaking culture, and remains incredibly undervalued, with a genuine hospitable spirit that diversity brings, and an excellent culinary scene to boot.
During our stay, we visited the pristine coastal towns of eastern Taiwan. Arriving by train to the modest county of Taitung, we felt the first true wave of hospitality as our local friend and guide Lily greeted us with a refreshing enthusiasm and zeal for life. Leading us to some of the best local eateries the area had to offer, we devoured traditional treats found in Taiwan’s famed yeshi, or night markets, like baked pockets of dough with fried crullers, or oyster noodles and pungent smelling tofu.
Further north along the coast, we passed through the majestic wonder of Yilan, and enjoyed sprawling scenic views of coastal landforms, where the boundaries between ocean and sky would dissipate as clouds of fog draped over rising mountain peaks. Climbing up the gold mining town to Jiufen, we pushed through crowds to find refuge in heritage teahouses, galleries and artist workshops.
On our way back to Taipei, we stopped over in Keelung for its fabled night market, bustling with bravado, eats and charm, and hiked Yangmingshan National Park, a collection of green peaks and tall silvergrass.