Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Grant in Taiwan: Southern Trip

During my last week in Taiwan, I took a trip south with some of my relatives. Although I was born in Taiwan (I moved to the US when I was 5 years old), I rarely go out of the Taipei metropolitan area, so this was a nice opportunity to explore the rest of the island. My family and I first went to Kenting, the southernmost tip of the island, and Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan.

If you come to Taiwan, you have to visit Kenting! There are numerous hotels and resorts that are right by the beach--many of which are filled by foreign visitors and tourists. Right when you arrive in Kenting, you immediately get a relaxed feeling being near the ocean and the beach. It has a laid-back environment that reminds me of Laguna Beach (I live in Southern California). After relaxing and playing in the beach for the day, you can shop around the vibrant night market at night. 

A scene of a beach in Kenting at night.

I didn't get to spend much time sight-seeing in Kaohsiung. What I did notice immediately when I arrived in Kaohsiung is the stark political divide between Taipei and Kaohsiung (I know, I'm a nerd!) You can notice the political differences simply in the naming of places. In Kaohsiung, which is generally pro-DPP, many of the names are associated with "Formosa" or "Taiwan"--names that disassociate Taiwan with China. For example, the Formosa Boulevard Station--the central station in the Kaohsiung Metro--has many political references. Inside the metro station, they also have a human rights center. I rarely see any political insinuations of this kind when I'm in Taipei. Regardless of your political affiliation, you should definitely visit the Formosa Boulevard Station and Central Park Station in Kaohsiung Metro. These two stations are regarded as some of the most beautiful metro stations in the world. The Formosa Boulevard Station has colorful bright lights with mosaic designs that are all made of class. Central Park Station has a beautiful garden that surrounds the escalators going up and down.

Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung Metro

Central Park Station in Kaohsiung Metro

I hope that reading these blog posts have encouraged you to come to Taiwan and visit. When the Portuguese arrived to the island, they called it "Formosa", meaning beautiful island. Taiwan truly is a beautiful, beautiful island. And if you are a student of East Asian international affairs, I believe that it's essential that you come and visit the island.

Chris Wang
B.A. International Affairs, Minor in Sociology 2014
Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Fellow
National Taiwan University, Taiwan

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