Working as a journalist, while being highly challenging and taxing, also has its perks.
In particular, working as a business journalist for one of the country’s leading broadsheets, gave me several opportunities to travel outside of the Philippines.
One particular trip I really enjoyed and remember is a six-day trip to Taiwan, which led me to the streets of Kaohsiung, and Taipei.
Temperature in Taiwan can get really high during the summer but organizers fortunately scheduled our trip a week before Christmas or during the early stages of winter in the country.
But how cold can it be in Taiwan, I asked? It couldn’t be that cold, I said, considering that Taiwan is very close to the Philippines and is also an equatorial country.
|me wearing shorts in Kaohsiung
So I disregarded prior advisories and decided to go to the country wearing a simple shirt and walking shorts (we are arriving in the evening and are not expected to work right away so casual clothing is advisable.
And that was the first of my many misadventures in Taiwan.
The unexpectedly colder weather sent shivers down my spine as soon as I got off the airplane in Kaohsiung international airport. It was 14 degrees celsius and I was wearing shorts,
Despite the cold, I stood by my decision, since I didn’t want my friends to bug with me with their “I told you so’s”
|yes, the tower is taller than me
Kaosiung is an industrial town in southwestern Taiwan. The port of Kaohsiung is also the largest harbor in the country so it’s no surprise that most industries and factories are situated in Taiwan.
We proceeded with our scheduled plant visits and interviews but we were also able to do some shopping and dining at the Sinjhong Night Market located in the Cianjheng District. Just like any night market in China, lots of stalls were selling souvenirs, knock-offs, and there were lots of food stalls.
The really popular food were stinfy tofu and oyster omelet (which was really yummy).
After two days, we took a six-hour train from Kaohsiung to the capital city of Taipei. Here, the temperature even got colder and it even drops further down at night.
Again, the trip was filled with work-related activities such as press conferences, plant visits and high-level meetings with Taiwanese and Philippine officials, but being the wanderers that we are, we still found some time to roam around the city during our off-hours.
One important destination is the Taipei 101 tower in the Xinyi District, which at the time, was still the tallest tower in the world. At the time, it displaced the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur as the tallest structure in the world.
Despite the cold, we still ventured into the night as took a trip to the building’s observatory at the 89th floor (there is also an observatory at the 91st floor).
For a visit to the observatory, each visitor needs to pay NT$300, which I thought was kinda expensive. But given the time constraints, we all decided to just pay it.
Well it was an official work visit but that didn’t mean, we can’t do some shopping in Taipei.
As we strolled around Taipei, I noticed that Taiwanese people bring out all their fashion mojo during winter and wear the most stylish fur clothing.
The lower floors of Taipei 101 are home to some of the luxury brands shops.
In Chung Hsiao street located at the East Road, Section 4 of Taipei, clothing shops lined the street offering some brand clothes and some knowck-offs. A business district by day, it becomes a shopping haven at night.
The only thing that bothered me was the fact that locals could hardly understand English so asking for the prices of some of items for sale was difficult.
A branch of Philippine bank Metrobank is located along this street so most Filipino workers who send remittances back home also stroll around in this area.
Our guide said visitors coming in Taiwan are advised to learn some of the words before visiting to be able to communicate somehow with the locals.
After almost a week, we traveled back to Kaohsiung where we flew back to Manila.
While I wasnt able to explore Taiwan that much, what I saw was enough for me to conclude that it is a charming place especially during winter. If time and budget permit, I will definitely come back, this time as a traveler and really explore every nook and cranny of this wonderful country.