Tags Posts tagged with "Taiwan"


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My eyes scanned words my brain barely managed to process and instantly blurred with tears.  I was having a “Miss America” moment.

A whirlwind of joy and excitement whipped through my chest because the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office had graciously granted me a scholarship to learn Mandarin in Taiwan, my foreign motherland, even though the extent of my vocabulary was “Hello” and “Thank you.”  I would return to the country where I had spent the first four months of my life before flying to the States with the adoption agency and becoming as American as apple pie – as if I had been both born and bred there.

. . .

People jokingly compare Asian American adoptees, and American Born Chinese, to bananas: “yellow on the outside, white on the inside” – like being Caucasian is the only way to be American.

I was only eight when I learned to doubt my “American-ness.”  Or realize that others saw me differently.  While wearing my oversized cotton “Proud to be an American Girl” t-shirt on the playground, I heard a boy snigger, “Why is she wearing that?” I didn’t understand, but my heart sank because somehow I didn’t fit the criteria for being American.  Though, if I was not American, what else could I be? 

. . .  

In Taipei the uneven road seemed to rise up in waves underneath my feet, making me stumble along the green path designated for pedestrians as cars squeezed past.  Jetlag certainly didn’t help to distinguish my gait from that of a drunkard.  Complex traditional characters on storefronts swam before my eyes, teaching me how it feels to be illiterate.  Vendors called out to me, and I practiced saying, “I don’t understand Chinese,” but they kept shouting, confusing and jumbled sounds, piling into my ears.   

I fled from them.

. . .

My Taiwanese teacher paraded around the classroom like a mother duck as our tongues struggled to bend backwards to meet the roofs of our mouths for “zh” and “sh” sounds, our lips stretched in a smile for “i” sounds and our vocal cords strained to produce the correct tones. 

Supposedly Mandarin has no grammar.  There are no verb tenses, but there are certainly rules.  When my hand shot into the air, quivering with questions, my teacher would gently call my name. 

“Yu Nong,” she said softly, perhaps as sweetly as the Taiwanese woman who birthed and named me once said – “use your Chinese mind.”   

My American mind always sputtered, “But I don’t have one!” 

. . .

Outside of the classroom, my conversations with the locals were progressing.

“Why don’t you speak Chinese?”

“Because I’m American.”

“But you don’t look American.”

The dumbstruck look on my face bade them to continue: “You look Asian.”

I blinked in disbelief.

“Because Americans are white and having protruding noses!” they offered triumphantly as evidence, like they were experts on my homeland. 

It is not fault of the Taiwanese that American media rarely features Americans with Asian physical features, so their ignorance should be excused, but these common interactions irritated me.  Again, I had to defend my American identity.

. . .

Through Couchsurfing and happenstance meetings, I collected a group of local friends.  Once we got past the “Why do you look but not act Taiwanese?” stage, I was able to experience the shy friendliness of the Taiwanese.  I felt sincerity when they told me to be safe on my bicycle, a sweet concernedness as they asked, “Have you eaten, yet?” as a greeting.  I surprisingly began to understand the two finger peace sign in photographs, how it belongs to a culture that values cuteness with silly cartoon characters plastered on backpacks and childish patterns on umbrellas.  I began to feel a connection to the country, but all sorts of foreigners fall in love with Taiwan in the exact same way.  

. .

One day I lazily pedaled through balmy air to the fruit stand near class.  I snapped down the kickstand and climbed off my bike, wandering over to a table filled with a marvelous variety of colors and textures.

“Which fruits are special to Taiwan?” I asked the salesman.

“This one.  This definitely doesn’t grow in America.”

Astonished, I ventured, “How do you know I’m American?”

He stared at me and answered matter-of-factly. “Because of your accent.”

For a language learner, that is not a compliment.  But with that simple acknowledgement of my identity as an Asian-American adoptee, an Asian anomaly, I grinned.

I self-identify as an American, and I carry that with me wherever I travel.  There is no one place that I belong, but even as a resident of London, I see America first and foremost as home.

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It has been two weeks since I came back home.

I was nineteen when I decided to leave for Shanghai to pursue my undergraduate education. I was ecstatic of the idea of being alone in a foreign country, or rather, to be able to leave the grey monochrome metropolis I was supposed to regard as home.

Streets of Shanghai were ghostly during the frozen months and thick crowd filled them even till the late of summer nights; I was infatuated with this novelty. So hopelessly spellbound with the city’s dynamism that I approach every ways and means to avoid returning home before the allotted time of my graduation. Lost in the endless of schemes, I opted the one deemed most possible: travel. I packed not only the necessities into my brand-new backpack, but also the vain hopes and wild plans of a young soul, and flew off to my first destination – Cambodia.

The fervent desire for an adventure was burning. I put it out by climbing the historical ruins in Siem Reap, and had the fortune of catching a heart-stopping sunrise. The rest of my humanly adrenaline rush was mostly cured through a skydiving experience in Thailand. But nonetheless the need to take a breather arose. As soon as I can, I packed my belongings, ready for a flight to New Delhi.

I paced myself to the flow of the placid waters of Ganges River and the still air around it. At that moment, I was more than just escaping; I was traveling. Older by a few weeks of contemplation, I then set foot on the Nepali land that homes Mount Everest. A lust for a new place was looming within, albeit the wonders of Nepal. Nearly two weeks of brisk weather incite the urge to swim in the sea under the sun. And soon enough, I picked up the frayed straps of the backpack, hauled it onto my back and hit the road to Taiwan.

What I received was warmer than the great golden orb hanging relentlessly above the skies of Taiwan; the people’s genuine hospitality. I was starting to truly enjoy traveling. But even so, it was but an evasion from settling. I bid my goodbyes in silence as I stood astounded before HongKong’s skyline. I told myself that it was my last stop before returning to Shanghai.

I sat looking out the window of the plane when bits and pieces of the trip were painted on the amorphous clouds. I bought a ticket to Shanghai and reckoned to stay put. Almost a month passed and something unexplained robbed me of my senses. I took the liberty in spite of myself and came back home. 

I have no regrets making this decision. Months of unplanned travels and it is home that bestowed me the courage to embark on every new journey; it is this home that would be waiting for me wherever I will be. As my mother said “Even the most adventurous person needs a place to call it their own.” However a platitude, it represents the truth. 

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Taiwan: praying for a new place

Jacob leads the way into the smoky compound. We’re in the most famous temple of Taipei city, which is also the first temple I have ever step into after thirty days in Taiwan. Rather than drawing a divination lot, I am much more allured to the exquisite carvings and the psychedelic colors on the wall.

It is a splendid morning on a windy Autumn day. Finally, a cloudless blue sky after weeks spent in murky weather. An unavoidable overwhelming sensation dawn upon me. Moments of the entire trip lurked in my memory – pellucid turquoise waves crashing down on me in Kenting, standing on top of humongous stones in Hualien, gazing at the infinite night lights of Taipei on top of Mt. Yangming etc. This is it, this is the end of my trip, and the end of my long acquired freedom.

“C’mon, I’ll teach you how,” Jacob interrupts my serialization of thoughts. After thirty days in Taiwan, he managed to persuade me into drawing a lot. No harm trying. He hands me two red moon-like shaped wooden pieces and teaches me step-by-step, but most importantly, he emphasizes, “keep the question you have in mind all the time”.

Yes, indeed. My brain is congested at that specific moment, mostly with fragments and residues from the discontinued thinking session earlier on. I walk around teary-eyed, fascinated by the artistry of history left behind on the wall, overpowered by the strength and belief hold by people praying toward an idol. I kneel down on the soft padded cushion placed on the ground. “Keep the question you have in mind all the time.” Jacob’s advice echoed within for a while before this specific question hits me and I feel I need to have an answer to it.

I proceed the steps with caution. The entire process takes less than ten minutes and in exchange for the lot – number sixty-six – I now got a pink slip filled with unfamiliar Chinese characters. Without understanding any of it, my line of vision turns toward an elderly man sitting behind a counter. I approach him with some skepticism and a mere tingle of hope. What I got in return was an affirmative answer to my doubts that has been waylaying itself under the mask of freedom. My eyes lit up upon the words pouring out of the wrinkled man’s lips.

People are coming in and out of the temple’s front gate, and I stare at the picturesque sky in front of me. I am most certainly awe-stricken by what I perceived as a traditional superstition when Jacob finds me at the front door of the temple. He ask curiously, “so tell me, how was it?” I feel the piece of vulnerable pink slip in my hands and look at him and say, “I’m going to my next destination, my home”.

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In Taiwan, there is a literal tree house. Branches of a banyan tree curve around the building and hold up the entire structure. If you walk inside the tree house and look up, there is no roof. Instead, a lush dark green canopy of leaves grows overhead. But it’s not the emerald leaves that are the most distinctive trait of the banyan. The amazing feature of this tree belongs to its thick, sturdy roots.

They rise tall into the air, up to 100 feet high, and zigzag in wild directions. The banyan’s aerial roots drop down from above, sprouting wherever they touch the ground. Although twisted, these roots are strong and tough. The solid roots are what support the building in Taiwan, allowing the historical site to remain open to visitors.

Roots are what allow people to stand up strong and courageous as well. Though our roots are not exposed like the banyan tree, they create the stable core of our lives. Our roots, our heritage, our background, affect us and mold us just as surely as roots define the shape of a tree.

Sometimes, like the banyan, we graft onto others. Banyan seeds can sprout on top of different trees or in the crevices of buildings. People are also intertwined with those around them. This often happens in marriage, and that was the case with me. My identity has been shaped by bonding with my husband’s family. Through the tight connection, I ended up visiting their homeland of Taiwan. It’s a journey I’m grateful for because hearing my relatives’ stories and seeing the actual land changed me.

Taiwan is an island consisting of bustling urban centers, alongside natural wonders. Marked by a crystal-clear lake in its center, unique beaches topped with coral and black sand, and imposing mountains that challenge even the toughest climbers, it’s a tropical paradise full of variety. In fact, when Portuguese sailors first saw it, they called Taiwan, “the beautiful island.” But behind that scenic veil lie hidden stories and secret roots.

Before Chinese rule, Taiwan was governed by fifty years of Japanese leadership. The transition to new rulers was not smooth. During that time, there occurred the little-known 228 Incident, which led to a series of heartbreaking events.

Tragedy lurks beneath beauty sometimes. The atrocities were not spoken about for many years. However, Taiwan has grown from these tragic events, not only surviving, but thriving. This is due to the truth, the pouring out of people’s stories that has happened within recent decades.

It is the truth that sets us free, as individuals and in groups. When we can be genuine, we are free. How am I truthful with myself personally? I embrace my dual heritage, both my Asian and American sides. I give credence to my inner passion, my creative spirit. Owning who I am gives me strength and drive to move forward in productive ways.

Seeing the Anping Tree House in Tainan, Taiwan brought me hope. In that special place, I saw the growing of roots stabilize an abandoned warehouse. Those roots upheld the building, just as our roots uphold us. Let us acknowledge the background and personal history within all of us, that sets us free to be who we are with pride and dignity.

About the Author:

Jennifer J. Chow is the author of The 228 Legacy, a novel which explores the emotional effects of The 228 Incident across generations in a Taiwanese-American family. It was a 2013 IndieFab Finalist from Foreword Reviews.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

What pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘blue’? To me, it is always the ocean. I love the ocean and somehow, a few weeks ago, I found myself standing above it. The big endless blue ocean was nothing like what I have ever seen before. It was majestic and it had a touch of gracefulness that I can never explain through words. The rest of the world seemed so far away at that time.

This experience began a few weeks ago when I decided to flee to Hualien, a city located in the east coast of Taiwan, for a long weekend. Hualien is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Taiwan, and I agree. The most famous site that Hualien has to offer is Taroko Gorge. Most of the tourist and travelers that I have seen on the Internet say that Taroko is quite a beauty. In this case, I both agree and disagree.

 Visiting Taroko was a wonderful experience, but it seems that I am not one that really fancies mountains and hills because my heart is with the big blue. The mountains and hills were not exactly my place. So, on the second day I decided to visit the place that was truly ‘me’. I went to the Pacific Ocean for two whole hours to go dolphin watching. When I got back, I was ten times darker, but I didn’t care at all. It was all worth it.

Floating on a boat above the ocean was an experience that I had never felt for a long time. I have a vague memory in my head. It was a memory of me standing on a boat, also in the open ocean. I was very young back then and I didn’t know any better, I didn’t even understand what was going on. However, the experience I had a few weeks ago was whole new experience.

On that second day, my senses awakened as I gazed at every detail Mother Earth had to offer. One of the things that I could not get over is the water. The water was amazingly blue and it reminded me of Titanic’s ‘Heart of the Ocean’. However, in my experience it was not just a sapphire stone but it was the whole ocean. Until now, I can still remember myself standing on deck, staring into the blue waters. There will never be any word to describe what I felt that day. It was just as if a part of my soul had awaken and I was finally living. I felt alive.

After half an hour on the waters, we finally saw a group of dolphins. I somehow felt envious the instant I saw them jumping above the water. To me, it was as if they were dancing and the ocean was their stage. I love dancing and I have danced on a stage before, so I know what it feels like. However, dancing in the ocean? That’s an experience I would love to have. As I was recording videos and taking pictures, the idea of dancing in the ocean was all I could think about. Honestly, if I could choose to be any Disney character, I would choose to be Melody, Ariel’s daughter. She had the best of both worlds, ocean and land.

 I still think about that experience even after the trip, especially when I’m in class. When I’m bored with my entire daily routine and tired of being around walls, all I can think of is the ocean. I think about how the wind meets my skin, how the sunshine makes the water sparkle, and I even think of the little flying fish that kept popping near the boat. The most important thing is I thought about how I felt alive.

I have my own thoughts about being free, about freedom. I believe freedom is only cherished when one has experienced what it is like to be captured, to live in a cage. I also believe that the moment you feel most free is the moment when you feel most alive. So, if you asked me where I would feel most free, the answer would be very simple.

Above the big blue, of course.

About the author: I am 21-year-old Indonesian student studying in Taiwan for my degree in Spanish Language. I have much love learning different languages and cultures. Traveling is a passion of mine!

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

I walk through a large opening between two cliff walls. Covered by a reddish color of long time untouched soil and the green color of various plants that penetrate and grow through cracks, the walls undoubtedly look majestic. However, the Leshan Giant Buddha in front of me is the one that attracts my full attention. I can almost hear the sound of swords clashing behind me before I realize that it’s just happening inside my head. I just close my eyes and recall a memory of a kungfu movie scene which takes place here in Sichuan, China. When I open my eyes, the view around me has changed. There is only an ordinary wall surrounding me, it is luxurious indeed, but ordinarily modern compared to the beauty of those disappeared cliff walls. There is still one Giant Buddha in front of me, the same majestic yet very clean and well maintained, placed inside a giant glass box.

In the urge of continuing my journey, I leave the Giant Buddha behind and arrive at a beautiful imperial palace. I never knew that the distance between Sichuan and Beijing’s Forbidden City could be traveled in such a short time. I enter a living room and saw them in front of my eyes. The emperor and empress of the Qing dynasty are discussing their princess’ marriage plan while elegantly sat at a classic wooden chair. It’s a dark brown long chair with a small tea table placed on right in the middle, separating the emperor and his empress. The whole living room is decorated in a perfect symmetry and harmony with a set of splendid Qing style’s furniture.

Since I’m afraid to disturb their discussion, I walk to another room next door which turns out to be an emperor’s study room. Its furniture similar with the furniture at the living room, but it has more study material in it. Plenty of beautiful Chinese painting and classic Chinese calligraphy are hanging on the wall. A bookshelf with a rich collection of books and documents from the palace archives attracts my attention. I take a closer look and immediately feel amazed with how beautiful those lines of Chinese characters looks like. It written perfectly neat in a vertical direction so that I almost think that it’s typewritten instead of handwritten. I definitely can’t think of a way to produce such a beautiful character by using only brush and ink.

I can no longer count how many books and documents I’ve read, but those lines of beautiful characters start to make my head dizzy. This place starts to looks like a maze and I’m not really sure where I am now. The next room I enter seems to be the palace’s treasure room though I don’t know for sure. I just know that it is full of splendid valuables. While admiring the beauty of ivory carvings, I catch a glimpse of a eunuch carefully cleaned up a collection of various elegant ceramics. From a corner behind my back, I could hear soft voices of a princess and her maid discussing which jade hairpin will looks the most graceful on her wedding day. A moment later, the further I walk through many rooms inside the palace, once more I feel a change not only at the view around me, but also at the atmosphere inside the room.

Once more, I look at the same ordinarily modern wall that suddenly appears at Sichuan before. A noise from a group of people talking to their tour guide starts to annoy me. I nervously try to find out where the emperor, empress, and princess are, but all I can see is a line of display window with various palace treasures inside. I look at the information paper that is attached in front of each display window and found this place’s name written on it. I slowly regain my consciousness and realize that I’m in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum now, not China’s Leshan Giant Buddha or Forbidden City Palace. It seems that the beauty of various historical heritages inside the museum drives my imagination to a faraway place through a time tunnel to the past. It allows my mind to be completely free, to escape from place and time limitation.

I see a glimpse of China in the past from Taiwan today. After all, historical heritages in this museum and their fellow friends at China share a same long history in the past, just like Taiwanese share a same long history in the past with their Chinese friends. Until today, there are a lot of China’s tourist visit this museum everyday, maybe because they curious to know whether their gift for friends at this little island still carefully kept or not.

About the Author: I was a professional banker for five years before finally encourage myself to follow my passion to write. Leaving my job to become a beginner writer was a perfect decision since it allows me to have more time to get involved in my passion.


Part 1

“Don’t do it, Amber. Its too dangerous.”

“You don’t speak the language, this is a dumb idea.”

“Are you crazy?”

Despite what my worried friends told me, I knew that after gallivanting through Asia for the last 6 months , it was the right time to take off on a solo motorbike trip in Taiwan. Sure, I couldn’t read most of the signs, but I had come this far, and likely could survive on sign language as I had in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Using the immaculate public transportation and a map from my hostel, I navigated my way to the main train station in Taipei, and identified where to buy tickets. While puzzling over the different options and holding up the line, I must have looked confused, because a Taiwanese couple offered to help me.

Miraculously, the next day I arrived in Hualien, a touristy town famous for its moon cakes. Step one: rent a scooter.

Most of them required an international drivers license – mine had expired – but I found a rental office being managed by a 13 year old girl who was clever enough to open up Google Translate so we could communicate. Through typing and sign language we agreed on a price, $10/day for 4 days, and I was about to pay in advance when her father came in.

Smelling of alcohol, her dad tried to renegotiate. He told me again and again in Chinese something I couldn’t understand – he couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I didn’t speak any Chinese. His daughter entered it into Google Translate, and apparently he was insisting that I pay in advance, which I was already planning to do anyway.

Finally, I hopped on my silver scooter and rode straight out of town. I left most of my stuff at the hostel, only taking with me a small day-pack with a few clothes, my journal, and a camera.


How did I get to be so lucky? I felt so joyful and empowered. It was difficult to worry about anything, with the wind in my hair, the green-brown mountains reaching up to my right, and the vast blue ocean to my left. “It’s complete and utter freedom to be here, in this moment,” I thought to myself.


More spectacular than the scenery was my inner joy at the moment. There I was, traveling alone, as a woman, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, and having the time of my life – that is what travel is all about. “I can do anything,” I thought as the world zipped by me.

To Be Continued…

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination…”
~Mary Oliver

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Taiwan 2013A guy who appeared on TV said, the bad things about dreaming is when you reach your dream you may still think it is still a dream. I didn’t believe it until i reach my own dream. You want to know what my dreams are. It’s simple; I want to put my feet in other country, anywhere. I want to try flying by that flying-machine. I want to make friends with a lot of people around the world. These are my dream.

Seems so simple isn’t it? But it took years for me to achieve that. I always envy my friend who can easily say, I will go vacation to France, I will come to Singapore to go shopping with my mom. Trust me, I really want to close my ears and curse at them when they said that. So what should I do?

Can I make my dreams come true? God answered my wish on January 2013. It began in Taiwan, a perfect choice for you who try to go travel alone for the first time. I will not only travelling but also do a volunteer job in a NGO called Taiwan’s Foodbank. So I collected my money and booked my flight to Taiwan. Finally, I’m flying by this flying-Machine! Horay! I made my first dream come true. When it’s about time to depart at the airport I looked outside. Now I’m sitting here, see the clouds outside, I feel so blessed to see these live picture. For a moment I cried.

Arrived in Taoyuan Airport, there are 2 persons holding a paper written “Welcome Ervina”. I am so happy to see them, they are my Taiwanese friends. Thanks god I won’t sleep in the airport, since it was 1 am in the morning it will be hard for me to find transportation. They took me to our flat to meet other volunteers from another country. Yes! My second dream will come true! I will meet many people from another country. I was so excited I could die!

The flat was so clean and neat, even though it’s kind of small for eleven people to live in there, but it will be so much fun. We will live together, sharing rooms, food, even bathrooms. They already make rules about who will clean rooms, kitchen and bathrooms each day and scheduled what time should you wake up. The most important things are, we are having fun, and we always spent our night at night market and eat dinner there.

We went from one to another night market in Taipei, from the smallest one like Shida until the biggest one, Shillin Night Market. We like to go shopping in Shilin, they sell nice clothes and shoes with cheap price and of course delicious food. If we too lazy to go outside we will stay in our flat, watching movies or just have a deep conversation among us. Feel like I have new family in here. We also have late night snack sometimes; we usually went to Seven Eleven or Mos Burger near our flat, still wearing our Pajamas. On the weekend we try to go outside Taipei. We take a bus to Yilan and see beautiful park, watch colossal Chinese theatre, riding bicycle along the river, enjoy our afternoon by taking pictures with the flowers, and see the sun goes down with them. We will have dinner in Yilan night Market. This time we try many yilan dishes. Wohoo!! Recommend place to fill our stomach.

Almost finish my volunteer job in Taipei; some of us need to move to other city to run another project. I and my friends will go to Hsinchu. We will go there by bus and stay for a week in National Cheng Chi University. We will work as International speaker with other international volunteers and NCCU Students. This project was made for high school students all over Taiwan, there will be more than 100 high school srudent to join this project. We will have fun games, discussions and of course cultural exchange. Time to go aound NCCU, the university is big, but because the weather was cold so it’s a little bit foggy. The foods are cheaper than in Taipei, they even have their own McDonalds! One of my favorite food is crêpe restaurant called Mr. Arnor’s Baking. The owner is so nice to us. He gave us a discount because we buy their crepes almost every day. The conference begins on Friday. I will have my own group whom consist of 13 students. All of students is so cool, they asked me many questions about Indonesia, some questions are funny, but I tried to answered it as clear as possible so they can understand what I meant. It feels so great to know that they are curious about my country.

I think the best part of my travel time right now is knowing when somebody curious about my country and want to know deeper, even though sometimes they asked me weird and funny questions, I will try to answered it with smile. Finish the conference, they asked me to come to Taiwan again, of course I would do that.

Time to go home. Come back to my real life. Now I understand what that man means about dream. When you already achieve it, you still can’t believe it really happen. For me, I will remember Taiwan as my precious dream, it make me complete my dreams; I can fly by those flying-machine, make friends with other people around the world, have a chance to eat their fantastic food, see their beautiful view and enjoyed my life in here. Thank you Taiwan, for giving me a chance to achieve my dreams. See you in another time and another life. Sincerely, Tyas

About the Author: Ervina Sendi Tyas,Indonesian, full time employer, part time daydreamer and travel writer wanna be. Twitter :@SendiTyas

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rainbowWe drove past a typhoon-torn fish farm, an oyster-embedded island and a highway lined with betel nut kiosks to reach the southernmost tip of Taiwan, Kenting National Park. By the time our car was skirting the coastline, it was midday and the sun kissed every cantle of the earth.

As the car pressed onwards, my mother reminded my siblings and I that we’d been here once since we’d moved to Hong Kong. As a child, do you remember? My mom asked me. I saw the turtle-rock to my left and the boundless stretch of sea to my right but could neither recall the forest’s wildwood smell nor the salt-tinged breeze of the sea.

Then the car curbed into the gates of the hotel and for a moment only blocks of buildings stood before the ocean and us. Tourists crowded the lobby and luggage, tugged across the floor, made a dim, grumbling sound.

When we reached our rooms and unpacked our bags, my sister suggested we go for a swim. The beach stretched before our eyes, inviting and glinting. We ran towards it, swimsuit-clad. But the sand was hot and electric and the space of water we were allowed to swim in was circumscribed. My brother took a swift glance at the glittering beach and remarked, it’s not much – a harsh jibe considering we’d spent four hours in the car to get here. He retired indoors.

The Kenting beach didn’t strike me as particularly different from other beaches – the sea was a cerulean blue, the tips of its waves scintillating under the sun, but it was not bluer than other waters, nor was the sand softer than the sands of other beaches. We were a couple of hours from my mother’s hometown, we wouldn’t return to Taiwan for maybe another year and this was the ‘family trip of the summer;’ yet nothing about the beach struck us much that afternoon.

Perhaps this would have been my lasting memory of Kenting beach were it not for the next morning.

In the morning, I woke early and walked out to watch the waves wash the sand and slide back into the sea. The leaves of the flowers planted next to the beach were laced with dew from the fresh morning rain and zephyrs skimmed treetops. I made my way up the sand dunes as water lapsed slowly at the shoreline. The beach had transformed overnight; it wasn’t crowded by arm-float wearing children hollering at each other or lifeguards on patrol motorbikes, revving across the beach. The sand was not burning under the beam of the sun but cool and pleasant to tread, the dune almost malleable below my feet. The beach carried a quiet grace, unperturbed by any afternoon clamor. An old lady clutching an umbrella was making her way up the sand dune a couple meters away.

Then I spotted from my peripheral vision – the way one would notice the first rain drop to hit the window – a spot of colour that smudged the horizon ahead. It was a rainbow, not the thick arc one would usually imagine but a dash of colour, a blur that dabbed the horizon like blush on a blue complexion.

It hovered like a mirage, soft and malleable, and it seemed that the entire beach was transformed by its presence. For the first time, I was moved by the Kenting beach and in awe of its morning fragility. Before me was a fleeting, unique spectacle of Kenting National Park; although the park is a popular getaway year-round, none of its postcards can adequately capture the smidgen of colour that brushed the sky that morning.

To have a rare, awe-inspiring moment such as this one – however momentary – in a tourist-crammed vacation spot is truly rewarding for any traveller who seeks a quiet respite.

Taiwan is my hometown, yet there is so much of it I haven’t explored. I had gone to Kenting National Park, hoping to find something amazing, and had not found it the first day; I’m grateful that the rainbow dabbed the sky the next morning so that I could take away with me the memory of that dash of colour in a sky, a gem of my travels.

About the Author: May Huang was born in Taiwan. She currently lives in Hong Kong and writes articles for the Young Post. Her head teeming with crotchet notes and different rhymes, May is determined to balance her passions for playing the violin and writing with her schoolwork. Read her blog here www.may-theforcebewithyou.blogspot.com

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Today, May 5, 2012, on Westridge Hiking Trail in Los Angeles, California we saw three helicopters circling.  A mountain bike rider fell and had a broken clavicle.

We saw the helicopter air lift him out. We hope he will be okay.

Other highlights from the trail today:

Talking with Trisha the ultra runner about BadWater 135mile run in July and seeing the Nike Missile Site while talking to a group from Taiwan.

Our video: Activate EMS Westridge Hike