I didn’t know much about Taiwan before this trip to Taipei City.
But when I heard about Hawaiian Airlines launching a route to Taipei, the political and economic capital of this island nation, it really piqued my interest.
I knew about the street food and night markets, but not much else. And that’s a shame. This island off the southeastern coast of mainland China is incredibly fascinating.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
• The island of Taiwan was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aborigines until the Dutch period in the 17th century when ethnic Chinese began immigrating to the island. (Now China governs the island.)
• About half of Taiwan’s terrain is mountainous, and you can hike ridges, walk through forests or wander through national parks all over the island. And many of the animals you find here — particularly a staggering percentage of butterflies — are endemic and found nowhere else in the world.
• Surfing is growing in popularity here. (Taiwan is the same distance from the equator as Hawaii.) Like many islands in this area, surf depends on typhoons. (And one is heading this way while I’m here!)
• While the official language of Taiwan is standard Chinese, recognized languages include Taiwanese, Hakka and the Fuzhou dialect. And you can hear all of these all over Taipei.
• Taiwan’s economic engine is manufacturing. It’s one of the “Four Asian Tigers” alongside Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore, boasting among the highest income per capital in Asia.
I was fortunate enough to get invited on Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural flight to Taipei, which left at 2 a.m. Tuesday. The 10-hour flight gave us just enough time to rest up before our long, long first day in Taipei.
Here’s what the day-time part of our first day in Taipei looked like: (Our visit to the Shilin Night Market is going to have to be a whole ‘nother post!)
Follow my adventures in Taipei on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth. Special thanks to Hawaiian Airlines for allowing me to be part of this special inaugural flight.