voco Gold Coast
Tell us a bit about how your Mum raised you to appreciate your Taiwanese roots.
When I was little, Mum would show me photos of where she grew up. We would also do lots of cooking together, with my Popo (Grandma) too. Popo is such an incredible cook, so she would make us dumplings, congee and other mouth watering dishes. Popo also used to teach me Chinese. I remember we had these blocks that on one side had a picture of an object and the other side was how to say it in Mandarin. I wish I had kept learning!
Before we get to see a new country and culture firsthand, we often hold misconceptions. Were there any you had about Taiwan?
I thought that Taiwan was mostly just a big city, but in reality, there are so many layers to it. From the contrast of city living in Taipei to lush forests and crystal clear waters with so much marine life, my eyes were opened. I saw how beautiful and diverse the country is.
You went all over the mainland and even to the islands! If you had to tell someone to visit three must-see destinations, where would you suggest?
1. Liuqiu: Seaside living.
I really felt like I was on a holiday from my holiday. The accommodation on the island is so quirky and it's so easy to get around. We hired an electric scooter and just scooted everywhere! Oh, and we got to swim with sea turtles!
2. Alishan: Lush forests and tranquility.
Alishan blew my mind away, it's a lot cooler up in the mountains but it was just so peaceful. I loved just walking through the forest in silence and no concept of time.
3. Taipei: City living
It’s absolutely bustling. I loved the people-watching and the shopping was fantastic. Taipei has it all. Don’t miss the chance to eat at the Night Markets. Think beautiful fresh shrimp (prawns) that are cooked right in front of you on the BBQ. It doesn’t get better and more authentic than that.
Tell us more about the food! What did you eat or drink that was definitely worth the hype?
BUBBLE TEA! I used to think I wasn't a fan but when we went to Hinoki, I had the best, most colourful bubble tea.
But nothing beats the Mango Shaved Ice, especially in the heat. We travelled to Taiwan when it was really hot, so the most refreshing way to cool down was enjoying one of these.
And we can’t talk about Taiwan’s food without talking about the seafood on Liuqiu. During the trip, we had a BBQ where we cooked all of our own food and everything was so fresh and delicious!
What are your top tips you’d give to a first-time Taiwan visitor?
Allow yourself to have time. Don't cram too much into each day. And really explore all of Taiwan because there really is so much to see and do. Just wake up early and get lost in the streets. I did this most mornings and came across bustling markets where I could find the freshest of fruit, nuts and other goodies. My favourite thing to do when I travel is to live like a local.
In Taipei, you have to visit Elephant Mountain. But when you do, don't stop at the first spot where most tourists stop. If you keep walking up, you'll find less crowds and a full view of Taipei.
Visiting to Alishan for sunrise is a must! Get to the train station early, it gets very busy. When you get to the top and see everyone stop at the main platform keep walking up the hill and you will get a better view of the sunrise.
And I have to say that if you need anything, don’t be afraid to ask. Everyone is so friendly and helpful!
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