First Impression Matters

What’s your impression of Taiwan?

It might not be fair for those who have never been to Taiwan to answer this question. I’ve heard different opinions from different people. Of course most people always hear Taiwan from the news about the nationality issues between China and Taiwan. But other than that, what do you know about Taiwan? There used to be a lot of products are made in Taiwan, and around 10 years ago, things made in Taiwan were still all over the world. Now, “made in Taiwan” become a term for better-quality product. Well, I mean, better than things made in some other countries. Taiwan used to be known as a country of EPZs, Export Processing Zones, about 15-20 years ago, and now a country of producing high-tech electronic products, such as computer, laptops, and cellphones. Asus, Acer, HTC, Trenscend, D-Link, CyberLink, I bet you’re not unfamiliar with these brands.

So, besides all these brand names, what else do we know about Taiwan? Let’s see some icons of Taiwan.

Well, how many pictures do you recognize? If you don’t know any of them, it’s okay. ‘Cause that’s what I’m going to tell you.


Similar, not the Same

So, “What exactly Taiwan is?” You might ask. “Is that even a country?”

How do you define a country as a country? By the govenment system? By the language spoken? By the ethnicity? By the location? Or by the politicians’ claims? I think none of these is applicable. Taiwan is a democratic country. People have rights to vote for the presidents and governors. We speak Mandarin, and most of us are Chinese offsprings. Taiwan is composed by several islands and islets which none of them are attached to any continents. Chinese government claims that Taiwan belongs to China; however, Taiwanese people need to apply for visas when entering China.

Although this small island was governed by Chinese, Europeans, and Japanese before, and then Chinese again now, the country has developed its own characteristics. It doesn’t look like either of the countries that had ruled it. There are evidences that you can trace and find out who has been in the island, but those just are parts of the history. We preserve the historical sites, build museums and galleries, publish books, and so on. We’ve never deny the fact that we ethnically are Chinese, but we’ve also admitted that the very countries did bring impacts on Taiwanese people.

Taiwan is just Taiwan. With more or less comparism and contrast, or with more or fewer reasons politicians have stated, Taiwan won’t suddenly become China, Holland, or Japan. Taiwanese people are the ones who make Taiwan Taiwan, and they ususally overlook that. I won’t say that Taiwan is either a part of China or an independent country. It’s just a complicated issue that politicians are voted for dealing with. I’m just a Taiwanese person, and I say what I see.

A Tiny Island with Everything in It

Let me briefly introduce the country I’m from.

Here is Taiwan

Taiwan is actually not just an island. It’s composed by four main islands, Taiwan, Peng-Hu, Kin-Men, and Ma-Tsu. In addition to these four main islands, there are tons of islets surrounding, such as Orchid Islet, Green Islet, Turtle Mountain Islet, and Small Kin-Men. However, the “Taiwan” people usually mention is the “mainland Taiwan,” a place once referred to Formosa, a beautiful Island.

Taiwan is a place full of multiple cultures. It was once Netherlands colony, Spanish colony, and Japanese colony. There were different races existing in the island, aboriginal people, Chinese immigrants, Europeans, and Japanese, well, not necessary at the same time. With all these cultures existing one by one in this island, Taiwanese has become tolerant to different cultures. And with this characteristics, Taiwan becomes a unique country, I would say, not like China, Japan, or Europe. It grows on it’s own way, and brings us today.

Everything Starts from Here

“Hello, I’m Lucy, and I’m from Taiwan.” Every of my friends has heard this before. People know the name “Taiwan,” but no one have ever know the country “Taiwan.” I’m not going to explain the political relationship between China and Taiwan, although this probably the part that people are curious about the most. At least, I’m not starting from explain this.

This is how my stories start.

Back to the year I was born, there was no Taipei 101, a building once was the tallest building in the world. There was no highway cut through some mountains and shortening a three-hour trip to 40 minutes. It was the time when the martial law was lifted. People start having the freedom to talk, to publish, and to gather. That’s the year I was born, a year people were set free.

I was born in a loving family, with my parents and an older sister. We lived with my aunt’s family who moved to Taipei, my hometown, when I was one. My aunt, Sophia, who you will see a lot in my stories, took care of me while my parents went to work. I remember the time with her. By that time Taipei was still a place without MRT, the subway system. We had to take buses all the time. Aunt Sophia always took me to the tradition market in the neighbourhood to buy the groceries, then we would go to the playground right next to the market, playing with other kids, the swings, the slides, and the seesaws. There were grocery stores instead of convenient stores; there were public playgrounds instead of school properties; there were telephones instead of cellphones.

I grew up in Taiwan, seeing the changes in Taiwan, living in the changing Taiwan, traveling in Taiwan, then understanding Taiwan. I start from here, from this blog, and I’m telling you about the Taiwan I know little by little.