Written by Jenny Tan (Middlebury College), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Spring 2020
Being in Taiwan for the Spring Semester was not quite a part of the plan, but I can confidently say I am beyond excited to spend the rest of my term in Taipei.
The flight from SFO to TPE was pretty empty, which was expected given the circumstances. Coincidentally, I was on a flight with 3 other students from my cohort! When we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by a CET staff member and escorted to our respective housing situations. The next day, we met promptly at 8:00 am for orientation, followed by a group lunch at a famous dumpling restaurant across the street from National Taiwan University (NTU).
For our first weekend in Taiwan, which was also our 2nd day in Taiwan, we took a group trip to Hualien《花蓮》County, where Taroko Gorge《太魯閣 》is located, one of Taiwan’s 9 national parks. When we arrived in Hualien, it was around 8 pm. Our first stop was Dongdamen Night Market《東大門夜市》, a bustling night market sprawling with various food vendors. Even though it was pouring rain, we nonetheless got to experience an integral part of Taiwanese culture.
The next day we had an early breakfast, served by our hostel, and headed out to the bus station. We arrived at Taroko in under 30 minutes and began the hiking up our trail. Along our trail, we crossed a suspension bridge and passed several caves, rivers, cliffs, and coniferous forests. The trail was not very steep, and rather relaxing. The weather was perfect for the duration of our hike—sunny with a slight breeze. Timing seemed to be on our side as the evenings were followed with rain.
We ended the day eating dinner at a local restaurant. Some dishes included roasted “little” chickens, sweet potatoe fries, and a specially brewed black tea.
For our last day in Hualien, we decided to get up early to catch the sunrise. We met up around 4:30 am and headed for the beach, a 10 minute walk from our hostel. Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy that morning and we didn’t get a chance to see the sunrise. It was still a beautiful sight however, watching the grey, dark sky slowly turning bright and blue.
We headed back to the hostel for a final breakfast before departing back to Taipei. The excursion to Hualien was a wonderfully relaxing way to start off our semester in Taiwan. It was a rather nice get away before our immersion into the bustling capital of Taiwan.