It’s the Formosa.
Just three days ago was the opening ceremony of 2017’s Universiade, and guess where it’s at? Yes, it’s held in Taipei, Taiwan, my home!
“Tell me more about Taiwan. I mean, what is it like there? ”
It has always been a difficult question for me. Obviously I can talk about Taiwan for hours, but it’s simply too hard to put into a few words describing this country. But as time goes by, and as I’ve met more and more foreigners, I feel like it’s really important for me to know how to introduce Taiwan to the world.
And after being an exchange student, meaning I’ve been asked more than a thousand times “What is Taiwan like?”, I narrow these questions down and compile a list of facts about Taiwan that you may find interesting.
But first… and probably the most important of all:
Taiwan is not Thailand. Taiwan is not a part of China. Taiwan is Taiwan.
I have all the respect for both Thailand and China, and it doesn’t really bother me that a lot of people get confused, since most Asian countries have the same or very similar roots, and the names are similar sometimes, too. But you probably don’t realize how big of a issue is to us Taiwanese when we heard “Isn’t Taiwan just a part of China”. It is a complicated topic and you will need to go all the way back to understand the history to understand the reason why, I won’t go into the details now, or this post would be very, very long.
So back to the facts that I would like to share with you:
1. Taiwan does has its origin from China, we have aboriginals but our ancestors are Chinese. Taiwan’s full name is Republic of China, Taiwan(ROC); while China is People’s Republic of China(PRC). Taiwan is a country, not a state.
2. Taiwan’s official language is Mandarin, not Taiwanese. Taiwanese is actually a dialect, which is a spoken language that has no written form.
3. Taiwan is a tropical island, almost 50% of the island is mountain, and it takes less than 10 hours to drive around the whole island. But we have 23 million people living here, so there isn’t much living space. Due to that reason you will see that in bigger cities, our buildings are tall and slim, people use scooters or public transportation more than cars (super hard to find parking spaces), we usually don’t own a garden… etc. All because of the space is limited.
4. Taiwan is the first Asian country that legalized same sex marriage.
5. Taiwan has its first female president Tsai Ing Wen at the year of 2016.
6. Bubble tea is from Taiwan (yum!). For those who don’t know what bubble tea is, it’s the drink combination of milk tea and tapioca balls. I know that it’s easy to find bubble tea nowadays, but don’t judge before you actually try the real Taiwanese bubble tea, it’s really so good!
7. Our garbage collecting trucks play music! The song they play is Beethoven’s For Alice. As a girl who grew up in Taiwan, I know it’s time to dump the trash when I hear the music playing from far away.
8. Taiwan has the number one density of 7-11 in the world, you literally see 7-11 at every corner. And 7-11 also plays an extremely important part in our life, you can pick up the merchandise you order online, buy train tickets, pay electricity bills, pay parking fee… I didn’t think that this is special until I traveled to other countries, especially non Asian countries. Taiwan wouldn’t be able to function without 7-11s.
9. We don’t eat dogs nor cats, we just don’t. It’s true that we eat a lot of ingredients that may seem weird: intestines, blood, tongues etc. I strongly believe that it’s also a way of not wasting food, we basically eat every part of the animal, get ride of the fat and bones, we keep almost everything else that’s left.
10. Everyone’s name is unique. In English, Spanish and other countless languages, it exists a system of names; but in Mandarin and Chinese, the way you name a child is really free and creative, you can literally put together words you like to create a name. What I’m trying to say is that, I’m sure you know that there’s not only one Sofia in the USA, but in Taiwan, I can assure you that there’s no other person that has the same name as I do. Of course, there are still some names that are slightly more common or popular, so it’s not entirely impossible to know 2 people with the same name, but the chances are not that high. Another fact relating to names is that for some reason that I don’t know, almost everyone has an English name. Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to foreigners to pronounce our names correctly? I only remember that during school’s English lesson, our teachers either gave you an English name or asked you to choose an English name.
If you’re thinking about visiting Taiwan someday (I hope you do!), you’ll be able able to understand them better after experiencing in person. There are still tons of things about Taiwan to write, I don’t even know where to start! What do you want to know about Taiwan? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Photo of Taipei 101 was taken by my friend Lukas. We went hiking on a Thursday night. you can tell the day by the color of Taipei 101 (ex: Monday is red), another fun fact!