, ,

Taiwan with Isabelle Engler

8:57 am

In today's "Travel Stories" series, my friend Isabelle Engler takes us to Taiwan. I've long wanted to visit Taiwan and schemed about how to make it part of my regular trips to Asia but so far, all plans have failed. For now, I will have to experience Taiwan vicariously through Isabelle, whose photos wonderfully capture all the poignant moments of a trip. Enjoy these! 

Visiting Taiwan was familiar yet foreign. I recognized places from childhood, but a lot had changed. I was inspired to (re)learn about the people, nation, and my hometown in Taipei. There was so much hope and love (and delicious food), not to mention everywhere was clean, orderly, and convenient. We spent one week in Taipei and another week touring around the island. It was wonderful to show my husband where I grew up and eat our way around the country.

We started the island tour in Jiufen. I had fond memories of this gold mining town in the mountain when my mother took me on a trip with her friends decades ago. I remember the beautiful fog that rolled into the mountain at dusk while we enjoyed traditional tea in a tatami room. I had looked forward to visiting Jiufen again with my husband.

This time, Jiufen was packed with tourists from Hong Kong and China. We took a shuttle up the winding mountain and squeezed through the crowded and narrow alleys. After trying several street food stands, we escaped the crowds by visiting a cozy tea house overseeing the ocean. The staff taught us to make tea with their loose tea leaves and tea sets. Each tea set was hand-made by the owner, giving it a personality of its own.

First, we warmed the tea cups and the pots with hot water, which was boiled and kept hot in a separate cast-iron pot. We then poured the water out of tea cups and pots, and then refilled with hot water with loose tea leaves in them. Each steep only took 20 seconds with a 5-second increment for each steep after. Our Oolong tea was accompanied by house-made tea plums and tea cheesecake.

We didn't have time to browse around the handmade tea set collections on the way out before venturing to our next destination. There are so many other tales, old and new, that I could share from each town in Taiwan. Each is as precious to me as that afternoon of delectable tea, snacks, and the ocean breeze in a small mining town north of Taipei.

Website: portfolio.isabelleengler.com

Instagram: instagram.com/isabelleengler

You Might Also Like