Probably, for someone coming from the west, it would seem like they are similar but after living in China for the last 5-ish months Taiwan was another world.
I wanted to tell you a bit about Taiwan and show you some pictures. If you get the chance some day to see it, I recommend it. Otherwise, I will try and tell you want I can.
Taiwan is a small island off the southeastern coast of mainland China. It isn’t totally part of China and isn’t totally it’s own country either. There is a connection… and it’s complicated. In Taiwan they speak mandarin Chinese like they do in most of mainland China but the accent is different and the characters are a bit different. However, there is lots of foreigners and lots of people can speak some English so it is a very easy place to travel around.
Where China boasts history back 2000-3000 years, most of current Taiwan is very new, since the end of World War II and the Chinese civil war in the middle of the 1900’s. (if your a history nut here is a link for more history) Money is about $1 American dollar = $30 Taiwan dollar so prices can seem a bit surprising. A bottle of water costs between $20-$30 and a meal at a nicer restaurant could cost you $100-$300 a plate. Comparatively, at least compared to US prices, traveling in Taiwan is very reasonable.
I think the best part of Taiwan is the fact that it is a lush tropical island. We fell in love with the beach. Had we been their longer, we would have figured out how to get to more beaches, but this one is Baishawan and is north of Taipei. Taipei is built next to mountains to the north that are covered with green tropical forests. It doesn’t really seem to matter which way you look because the view is always gorgeous. Taipei has a young, modern, and artsy feel. I had it described to me as ‘kind of’ the Portland of Asia. There is lots of night street markets that are crammed with people and lots of traditional foods, but there is also lots of education and foreign influence from all over the world and you can find lots of different ethnic restaurants. (we found Mexican there that we were really missing) Taipei is home to Taipei 101 – the second tallest building in the world. This is a ball that is at the top that helps stabilize it from typhoons and earthquakes (they get a lot of both). Several other buildings around the world have this design, but this is the only one that lets you see the ‘big ball’… or it is the tallest one to let you see the ball… or something cool like that. … I’m not good at remembering the details. Just out of Taipei did pottery at this cute pottery town called Yingge. There is lots of shops selling pottery and letting you try. There is also really awesome food 🙂 Then, we had a blast checking out the Modern Toilet Restaurant. Just a restaurant with a ‘potty’ theme. The kids loved it! The zoo has a panda bear. It even has a baby that was 1 month old (but off display when we were there).
On a random note the garbage trucks play music… so you always know when one is on the neighborhood.
There was lots more we wish we saw while we were there, but it was an awesome trip just the same. The most fun were wandering the streets and the night markets. I love watching people 🙂 Here are some more pictures from our trip:
Here is a link to more I uploaded to Facebook if you are interested.