Travelogue: Magnificent Mandarin

Travelogue: Magnificent Mandarin

Travelogue: Magnificent Mandarin. Taiwan is a place where, when words fail, smiles make up. People are friendly and hospitable.

Taiwan is a place where, when words fail, smiles make up. People are friendly and hospitable. Some of them may not be able to converse in English but they are ever ready to extend a helping hand if you are stuck- forever courteous and eager to please their guests. What more to say? During my recent visit to Taiwan, I experienced a universal, affable love that is all pervasive- it was all around me and in abundance. In these days of technical mad rush, Taiwanese people still stop, smile and welcome you to their country.


My first stop was Kaohsiung, second major city of Taiwan. Since its start in the 17th century, Kaohsiung has grown from a small trading village to a prominent industrial centre of Southern Taiwan. The Pier 2 Art Center in Kaohsiung is a hub of outdoor and indoor art warehouses and museums. It is set around an old and charming unused wharf. The Pier 2 Warehouse main building was used to store sugar, but now houses different contemporary art throughout the year. It is the best place in Kaohsiung for modern art fans, and the area bustles with young art lovers and visitors. The district comprises several other art galleries and museums, which are all next to each other that are full of modern art sculptures, statues and decorated buildings. There are miles of walking paths and a cycle path too.


In the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, amazing underwater life is exhibited with national habitats ranging from mountains to sea, thus creating a virtual world. Divided into three main sections, the aquarium is quite educative. It is like following the journey of a raindrop from a mountain top to the deep recess of the ocean. “Waters of Taiwan” deals with the water ecology from high mountains through river mouths to the sea in Taiwan. “Coral Kingdom Pavilion” houses an eighty metre underwater tunnel, presenting varied coral reef ecology in South China Sea. “Waters of the World” has the Earth’s extremely ancient, lofty, deep and cold ocean ecology topics, wherein the most characteristic part is the 10-meter-high acrylic viewing window of the Giant Kelp Tank, which is the highest in the world. In addition, the penguins from the South Pole and the belugas from the North Pole raised in the museum are popular with visitors. Touch pools specially designed allow people to get close to marine life where visitors are encouraged to touch small living creatures like start fish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea hares, crabs etc


Kenting National Park is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Taiwan and the Luzon Straits. Amid Coral Sea cliffs teemed with fringing reefs along the west coast, the park features a large number of mountains, coral tablelands, a vast lake, limestone caves, unique sand rivers and sand waterfalls formed by the combined effects of winds and rivers, as well as coral cliffs, sunken caves and stalactites.

But what I liked most was the night market in Kenting. It was so vibrant with people, games, mobile bars, clothes, footwear, and a myriad other things that would interest a tourist and a shopper. Two nights I freaked out in the night market, buying souvenirs and also things that I didn’t really need.


The highlight of my Taiwan visit was certainly my memorable stay at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei which is ideally located in the heart of the city on Dunhua North Road, Taipei’s main boulevard renowned for its vast canopy of trees. Its extraordinary environment with beautiful European-inspired architecture is complemented by elegant and tasteful interiors. Going around the hotel was like visiting a museum, which I would do often. More than 1,700 art pieces include works of art from renowned artists, stunning antiques, and sculptures designed by award-winning artists. I was told that the magnificent 1,400-kg chandelier in the lobby entrance has 50,000 pieces of crystal beads and light amber crystal drops that took over nine months to make from initial designs to installation. At their Café Un Deux Trois, the French Restaurant I had the best of the French breakfasts with champagne. Bencotto, the Italian restaurant served authentic, heart-warming cuisine from a team of Italian chefs in a lively, atmospheric setting with a large open kitchen. I enjoyed the ultimate in fine patisserie, cakes and pralines and later burned all the calories in their beautiful swimming pool. All this spelt class and exclusive elegance, pampering me to the core!

Vijaya Pratap

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