I had no idea what to expect before I travelled to Taiwan. I had only heard discouraging words from those who had never been.
'Why would you want to go there??'
'I would never go to Taiwan..too close to China...'
or 'There will be nothing there apart from Taipei!'
But even though I knew by now not listen to negative comments from those who were totally unaware of what they were talking about - I still wondered...would it be worth the trip?
I decided to go with little plans, a complete open mind and a hope for a refreshing surprise.
Taiwan totally succeeded all expectations of what I could of possibly had, it's somewhere I never even touched the surface of. Here are are the 5 things that surprised me the most.
Taiwanese people are some of the most welcoming and helpful people I've came across on my travels. Most just seem to love having you there visiting their country and grateful you've came to their shop or restaurant or town. Their customer service is excellent and I found they jumped at the chance to practice their English with you rather than it being an annoyance or embarrassment.
From the kind staff-member of a hostel we weren't staying in, phoning up the manager of our guesthouse requesting for her to come and meet us in the street because we couldn't find where we were staying. To the elderly people peacefully practising 'Falun Gong' in the parks in the afternoon. To the staff at the train station who would rush as much as they could through your purchase so you could run and catch the next train. To one of the guys selling Bubble Teas asking everything about my trip, my travels and myself just because he was interested and intrigued. To the waitress who hurried to get me a bag to put my handbag in so I didn't have to put it directly on the floor...
The list goes on! The people of Taiwan are wonderful and interesting and their ways only left me captivated to learn more.
HOW MUCH IS FITTED INTO THIS COUNTRY
For a country that's only 245 miles in Length and 89 miles in Width, it's shocking how much beauty, different environments and varied scenery there is on this island. You can find it all, from neon lit cities, to sleepy mountain side villages, to volcanoes and waterfalls, to dramatic cliffs plunging into white sand coastline to surfers, to indigenous tribal towns, to epic national parks and wild terrain.
The culture and untouched nature of Taiwan is breathtaking. There is just so many hidden places and unique towns to explore making it a struggle to run out of things to do.