Recently, I get to know a new colleague from Taiwan, named Peiyi. Peiyi is two years senior to me. She finished Master study in Law in NCCU and had two years of experience living in the South of Vietnam. We then have quite good chitchat, mainly in Chinese, with each other about my experience in Taiwan or her experience in Vietnam, etc. I also joined a meeting of a Chinese speaking club two weeks ago and had interesting time sharing everything I experienced as a student in both Vietnam and Taiwan. There were about 15 colleagues of mine travelling to Taipei one week ago and they were very happy about their travelling experience in Taipei. All of the above experiences lit up my life for the last few weeks. I do not have to feel embarrassed any more when showing my excitement while talking anything about Taiwan. I have some opportunities to relive my experience of living in Taiwan.
But talking about Taiwan cannot relieve my nostalgia for the days in Taiwan. It sounds weird but one month ago, when I received the admission letter with offer of full-tuition scholarship from Hanken School of Economics in Finland, I then decided to not submit anything to NCCU, I started missing Taipei and Taiwan more than ever. It’s just like I do not know when I can revisit this beautiful island given that I could not afford a short trip to this beautiful island as promised before leaving Vietnam for Finland for two years. Sometimes I just wonder if I could love Helsinki as much as I love Taipei. Taipei now is like another home to me and moving to other places than Taipei/ Hanoi is like moving out of my comfort zone.
While it is nearly impossible to have a trip to Taiwan this summer, it should be better to relive Taiwan’s memories by continuing writing down my endearing memory of Taiwan.
In the third day in Tainan, Binh, the Finnish girl, and I woke up early in the morning and we caught the bus to Taijiang National Park. Before coming to Taiwan, I happened to see a documentary in the Fun Taiwan series hosted by Janet Hsieh. In this documentary, Janet guided other travellers through beautiful places in Tainan, and Taijiang National Park with its green canal soon caught my attention. On the bus No.99 to Taijiang National Park, we met Sangmee by accident then three of us went to Taijiang together. We spent a whole morning on the boat to visit Sihcao Green Tunnel and a part of Taijiang river. Sihcao Green Tunnel in Tainan was once a salt canal. 750 meters long and 20 meters wide, the canal was used to transport salt products from the drying field to the storage back in the days. The rich habitat of the mangrove the canal cuts through is the wetland environment with the most variety of species and plants in Taiwan. When we came to buy the ticket, there was a long line waiting to be on board. However, thanks for the big size of the boat, we did not have to wait for long when it came to be our turn.
It seems that we were the only foreign tourists on the boat this day. The tour guide mainly spoke in Chinese. When she realized that we were not Taiwanese, she first tried to speak in English. But Sangmee and I spoke quite good Chinese (Sangmee lived more than 2 years in Beijing for her MBA study in Peking University, the tour guide spoke Chinese again. I cannot remember now what did she say during the tour. I was only impressed that she spoke a lot and she even introduced us many kinds of species and plants on the canal. It’s a little bit difference when I visited Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where tour guide does not say a lot about the scenery along the canal.
When we were on the boat along a part of Taijiang River, we also listened to the song “Anping – the song of chasing dream” sang by Teresa Teng. We even could see the Anping tree house from the boat.
After finishing our boat trips, we decided to take the bus to Qigu Salt Mountain. Actually I first expected to go to the Qigu Lagoon to watch the black-faced spoonbills. When we got there, what I saw was a mountain of salt but I doubted that it was not the real salt. We got around for a few minutes and saw that there was just a mountain of fake salt and a kind of warehouse where people presented something related to the salt-producing industry in Taiwan. When on the boat on Taijiang River, the tour guide said to us that salt-production used to be a very important traditional industry in Tainan before the import of salt from other countries kicked out the local salt producers from the markets. Therefore, it was very difficult to see the real salt field in Tainan. Actually I still saw some photos of salt field in Tainan on Facebook and I am not sure if I misheard the information from the tour guide. Sangmee, Binh, and I decided to walked around for a few minutes and then took a bus back to the center of Tainan. Binh and I still had enough time to enjoy salty ice-cream.
Back to the Center of Tainan, I decided to take a walk around the area near Confucius Center, where I visited a book store. It was a second-hand bookstore named Jin-Wan-Tsi (金萬字), recommended as the first one in the map of independent book store in Tainan. It was a quiet bookstore, located just a few steps away from Yeh Shih-tao Literature Memorial Hall. The sound from the bird in the cage and the song “Moon River” broadcast in the store even made the atmosphere quieter. Though the list of independent bookstores was quite long, I only made it to this store only.
I finished my trip on the third day by walking around Hayashi Department Store, which celebrated its 84-year-anniversary on the day I came. It was originally completed and opened on 5 December 1932, during Japanese rule. Upon completion, the building was one of two such stores in Taiwan with state-of-the-art features of elevators. The building was bombed by the United States airplanes at the end of World War II. After refurbishment, the building function was restored and reopened on 14 June 2014 in a ceremony presided by Tainan Mayor William Lai.