GLOBETROTTER — Taiwan
Taiwan is also known as Ilha Formosa, which means the beautiful island. Mountain peaks puncture a sea of clouds, slick black volcanic rock wraps the coastlines and waterfalls shroud themselves in mist. It is named by the Portuguese sailors. After Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Chinese ruled the country. The traditional culture of Taiwan is very similar to that of China. People of Taiwan take health and longevity very seriously. They are very superstitious about death and avoid its symbols of white and the number four and also never talk about dying or accidents. Taiwanese rarely express their emotions or speak frankly but there is a custom of smiling and politeness. The major events held in the country, include the lantern festival on the 15th day of the first moon. It is celebrated with fireworks. In the ghost month – or the seventh lunar month it is believed that ghosts from hell walk the earth. No one travels, swims, gets married or moves house in this month. But everyone visits Taoist temples. The national day on 10 October is celebrated with gusto, fireworks and a light show in Taipei.
The major attractions of the country are Taipei – the bustling centre of Taiwan’s commerce, government and culture where plenty of colourful temples, inspiring monuments to heroes and fascinating museums is situated.
Tainan – the temple town of Taiwan is one of the best places in the country for Buddhist parades and festivals. There are several temples like East Mountain – a busy Taoist temple where people come to communicate with dead relatives or exorcise ghosts, Mito – the largest and most beautiful temple with a magnificent statue of the 1000-armed goddess and Kaiyuan - a classical Buddhist temple with spacious grounds and plenty of pagodas. Taiwan’s cuisine is much the same as in China. Taiwanese love to eat and also to feed their guests as well. Special foods are made for the different festivals. During the moon festival in autumn, moon cakes are made whereas spring rolls are sold in April, Rice dumplings are made for the dragon boat festival and red turtle cakes are made for birthdays and temple worship. In the everyday dishes, Taiwanese use many ingredients, which are usually medicinal and expensive also.