It can be hard to fully appreciate Taiwan’s many charms until you’ve been abroad. Our island may be small, but its diverse climate and geography have given rise to a cornucopia of natural resources, produce and products. And when our farmers and industry work together, there’s little they can’t do. Though we already produce top-tier coffee, whiskey and wine, few would have guessed that Pingtung in Southern Taiwan would develop a cocoa industry that has begun to win international renown.
These days, the phrase “Tai jiu xian”—which usually means “Taiwan Provincial Highway No. 9”—doesn’t necessarily refer to the east coast highway at all, but to a burgeoning connection between Taiwan and Japan’s Kyushu Region.
The Department of International Information Services (DIIS) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently worked with broadcasters from the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Thailand to produce travel programming in different languages under the title Embracing Taiwan. The production teams included many frequent visitors who had previously created travel programs about the island.
For international students in Taiwan, “home” may be a plural concept. Usually defined by birth, home may nevertheless be established by chance. These students’ old homes may be far away, but the families that welcome them in Taiwan give them second homes. Thanks to their hospitable and caring host families, they are able to relish Taiwanese cuisine, experience Taiwanese culture and enjoy the scenic beauty of this welcoming country.
truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance—however much he himself may cherish it—upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, ......
Hakka Grand Opera, which originated in three-role Tea-Picking Opera, is an authentic form of Taiwanese theatrical entertainment. In the past century it has experienced the vagaries of time, first enjoying huge popularity, then suffering a decline, and now regaining some of its former glory.
Life’s journey is marked by many way-stations. Some people leave their homelands to marry, and their spouses’ homelands become their new homes. Others travel to foreign countries to work, their homelands existing only in their dreams. But fate often ruthlessly tests people. When migrant workers or permanent immigrants are injured or suffer setbacks, there are some halfway houses run by immigrant volunteers that can comfort them on their journeys.
In 2019 a Taiwan Beer gift box was marketed to celebrate the centennial of the Taipei Brewery. The gift box featured three bottles of beer with distinctly different labels: a samurai-themed Takasago Beer label from 100 years ago; a retro label from 60 years ago bearing the slogan “Revive China, build Taiwan”; and a “Baby” brand Taipei Blonde Ale label featuring a blob-like baby gremlin and Taipei’s North Gate.
“It’s no big deal if you don’t understand Southeast Asian cultures—it’s just that you’ll lack the perspective of seeing the world map turned upside down.” So says Lin Zhouxi, founder of the bookstore “SouthEastAsian Migrant inspired” (SEAMi).
To many Taiwanese, Southeast Asia is a faraway land of different languages, cultures and religions. But viewing Taiwan through the lens of contemporary Southeast-Asian art, with its depictions of the cultural body blows inflicted by colonial rule and later transition to more democratic governance, can help us discover that we have more in common with Southeast-Asian nations than we thought.