Given the strategic location for trading of Japan’s previous colony, Taiwan, or Ihla Formosa (beautiful island) as the Portuguese dubbed it, it has undergone a tumultuous history with the initial aboriginal inhabitants, then Chinese settlers/governing, then “discovered” by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, a little bit of Spanish rule, back to Chinese, on to the Japanese for about 50 years, and now the present-day Taiwan, Republic of China, not to be confused with China, the People’s Republic of China.
While the Japanese occupation of Taiwan was harsh, it did help in modernizing the island with the development of infrastructure, such as highways, railways, hospitals, and schools. The end of World War II in 1945 also brought an end to the Japanese occupation. With less than 100 years since the occupation, one can still see much of the Japanese influence in Taiwan, such as the city layout, Japanese stores/restaurants, food, and the number of students studying the Japanese language.
Although the capital, Taipei, is a booming metropolis, it is surrounded by the lush greenery of its jungles and mountains. Indeed, it’s also known for its tropical fruits, but the mangoes were not in season yet, unfortunately.
Overall, Taiwan has an abundance of inexpensive food and shopping (night markets galore) with friendly locals and plenty of “nature” to go around. Next time: hope to see more mountains, visit during the “floating lanterns” festival, and eat more mangoes.