The Republic of China, better known as Taiwan, is in the West Pacific, between Japan and The Philippines, about an hour and a half from Hong Kong and three and a half from Bangkok. It has a population is 23 million.
Separate from China, Taiwan is an island with a square mileage of about 36,000. Figure that’s a little smaller than two New Jerseys, less than half the pizzerias though. For those less NY Metro focused, it is about the size of The Netherlands.
We’re attending the opening ceremony of the Lantern Festival which officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations!! CNY is one of the most important and largest holidays for the culture, lasting 15 days and concluded most notably in Taiwan with said Lantern Festival. We will be there capturing the excitement on film with a canon XA10 for video blogs. Between camera, shotgun mic, and SD ultra performance memory cards, it’s about $500 in equipment for the week.
The Year of The Snake is now upon us. Snakes, known in American cinema for being slimy, creeping and a monstrous, can actually be considered keen, cunning and intelligent. Biblically they’ve been deceptive and evil, yet wasn’t it because of the serpent that man realized he rather be outside the garden with woman than inside without? Whether you look at a snake as crafty and calm in crises or dark and satanic, we’re celebrating, for new beginning is upon us and who doesn’t love a celebration?
Some quick knowledge to kick about the Chinese Calendar:
- It’s based on lunar activity
- It cycles through rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
- 2013 is more specifically the year of the Water Snake
Last time it was the year of the Water Snake, Eisenhower was President, Stalin was being buried and Queen Elizabeth II had just been crowned. Your final hint, Marilyn Monroe was the centerfold of the very first issue of Playboy. It was 1953. If you want to learn more, check out The Year of The Snake. Is the link credible? I have no idea, but it’s very detailed and super horoscopic.
Taiwan as a sovereign nation maintains diplomatic relations with only 22 nations. The USA is not one. The only one in Europe is The Holy See (Vatican City). Without a seat at the UN, it mostly has informal relations.
Geographically, Taiwan is blessed with a range of climates from tropical to temperate with East Asia’s highest Mountain: Jade Mountain. More than half the area is covered in forested foothills. They’ve also volcanic mountains and coastal basins.
Taipei is the capital city in economy, politics and culture. A great fella and friend of mine AD is living in the area. AD and I explored and exploited the city of Roma, Italia for all it had back in the summers of 08 and 09. By his wise British accented words this is what I expect:
Taipei: Food, people, culture, nightlife hiking across nature and value of money all awesome. Shopping, dining and leisure. Awesome travel choice, often overlooked when passing through Asia. (We intend to change that)
Places to visit within: National Museum with ancient Chinese artifacts (Which Beijing wants back) Shung Ye Museum of Aborigines
Hot Springs in Beitou or Yangmingshan national park
Gondola by Taipei Zoo (which is also cool) that takes you up into an old tea-growing mountainous area. There are some nice hikes through tea fields that overlook the city. Also a good spot for a nice cold beer!
[Taipei has] awesome mega clubs as well as some cooler alternative hangouts. The music scene there is growing massively, …underground house and nu-disco nights in Taipei and Taichung. The DIY scene rivals any other major city in Asia apart from maybe Tokyo.
At night check out Shilin Night Market, super famous for food and general market banter. After that you can get some decent grub and go clubbing.
About an hours drive (bus or taxi) from town is a place called Jiufen, a mountain village overlooking the sea which used to be the centre of gold mining in Taiwan. It’s a good day trip and you get to see parts of old traditional village houses.
We’ll be traveling 30 hours tomorrow through Japan.
Neither of my banks will work, as Taiwan (recognized as China for most political / business relations) will NOT support use over there. Chase Bank has not been conducive for international travel. I was refused money for 27 days when I was in the Middle East in 2011. Do you know what it is like to NOT HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR MONEY IN THE MIDDLE EAST FOR 27 DAYS ?! Yet, I’m the moron who hasn’t dropped them. I swear when/if I return from Chiwan, I will.
Air China has poor food reviews.