Matt Gibson

Insights From An Expat In Taiwan

Welcome to the final edition of our Earth Day Series which has featured some of the most inspiring locations on the planet.

In this edition Matt Gibson shares images from his time as an expat on the beautiful island of Taiwan. A state in east Asia it has seen great change over the last few decades, it’s culture and heritage now inspiring many to visit its shores.

Travelling perpetually I seldom have the opportunity to put down roots, however this photo essay inspires the desire to live permanently as an expat abroad.

Earth Day in focus – Taiwan

Expat Insights From Taiwan Hiking Taiwan
Taiwan is a wonderful place for hiking, especially the northeast coast where the gorges are especially deep and spectacular

The first Portuguese sailors to visit Taiwan dubbed it Ilha Formosa, The Beautiful Island. This was not an exaggeration.

Jump forwards a couple of centuries and all the same natural beauty of the white sand beaches, jagged mountains, lush jungle, and smooth deep gorges remains.

What has changed is the culture. Taiwan is home to a unique culture, heavily influenced by the Chinese heritage of many citizens, as well as by a period of Japanese occupation, aboriginal culture, its own folk-heritage, and a staggeringly rapid progression from an agrarian to manufacturing to service-based economy.

Taiwan is home to the tallest mountain in East Asia, several kinds hot springs that can be found in only one or two other places on earth, a patch of burning ground, a pool of burning water, an insanely dangerous fireworks festival, delectable sweet sausages, amazing dumplings, and some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

I lived in Taiwan for six years and still feel homesick for the beautiful island. Here are some of my favourite photos of my adopted home.

Expat Insights From Taiwan Hiking Taiwan
While hiking, you discover temples in the strangest places
Expat Insights From Taiwan Taroko Gorge Taiwan
Taroko Gorge is Taiwan’s most spectacular gorge. This trail, for obvious reasons, has been dubbed The Vertigo Trail by the English-speaking hiking community
Expat Insights From Taiwan Jialeshuei Taiwan
The southern tip of Taiwan is home to a geological oddity called Jialeshuei (which means Happy Waters). A portion of sandstone and other odd rock juts out of the the island where it has been whipped into amazing shapes and textures by the vicious winds and waves
Expat Insights From Taiwan Perpetual fire
Just north of Jialeshuei is another unique geological oddity — a patch of burning ground with several constantly burning fires (like the one pictured) rising from the dead earth
Expat Insights From Taiwan Donggang Festival Taiwan
Every four years a festival is held in Donggang, in the middle of the island. A ship is built and then burned to ferry ghosts to the afterlife. This ship was 15m (about 45 feet) long. That’s a lot of ghosts
Expat Insights From Taiwan Sweet pork sausages
Sweet pork sausages are a unique and delicious local delicacy that can be found nearly everywhere
Expat Insights From Taiwan Dumplings Taiwan
The dumplings, however, were my favourite food
Expat Insights From Taiwan Longshan Temple Taipei
Longshan Temple in Taipei is perhaps the busiest temple in the country, and is definitely with a visit (especially around dusk when the after-work worshippers show up)
Expat Insights From Taiwan Beach Taiwan
Like nearby Vietnam and The Philippines, Taiwan has it’s share of white- and beige-sand beaches
Expat Insights From Taiwan Surfing Taiwan
One of Taiwan’s best kept secrets is the great surfing
Expat Insights From Taiwan Coast Taiwan
Taiwan’s coast, however, is varied with sections like this one where lava rock has formed kilometres of caverns, caves, and vistas
Expat Insights From Taiwan Vase Rock Taiwan
The same lava rock helped to form the semi-famous Vase Rock
Expat Insights From Taiwan Yehliu Taiwan
The northern coast has two areas similar to Jialeshuei in the south, where the unique geography have created an alien-like appearance. The best known is Yehliu, pictured above

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Are you an expat? Perhaps you’ve experienced the beauty of Taiwan for yourself? Share your comments with me below.

  1. Great blog post, love your photos! Have never considered traveling to Taiwan, but wow, would def want to go there now after reading this! Did not know that they have nice beaches and that the surfing is good. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Anytime! It is a wonderful place. It would be good to go sooner rather than later, because it’s poised to become a big destination in the next few years.

      1. Wonderful photos Matt. Taiwan is wonderful place, the real hidden jewel. Where did you hear that TW will become big destination? Is there some interesting source for data like this?
        Thanks and keep rocking!

      2. Dean, the Taiwan Tourism Board has been working on a huge global tourism campaign. It’s mainly in Asia, but also western countries. You’ll see awareness of Taiwan as a destination grow in coming years.

  2. Wow. It looks amazing. We’re off to Asia next year and weren’t considering Taiwan but I think that’s going to have to change after checking out all of your photos!

  3. WOW Taiwan just got pushed to the top of my bucket list. We’re flying from the States to Australia at the end of the year and just might have to book a detour. Who knew Taiwan had the tallest mountain in East Asia!!

  4. Taiwan looks gorgeous–I never realized how diverse the landscapes are. Great photographs! Jialeshuei looks amazing and so do the dumplings–yum!

  5. The landscape looks just incredible. I was thinking of doing some hiking in Taiwan next year and your photos make me wanna do it for sure! I am a big fan of dumplings as well. Although I’ve tried only Chinese ones called baozi, I believe I would also fall in love with the Taiwanese ones!

  6. I lived and worked in Taiwan many years ago as an English teacher. It all still looks the same. Your photos are gorgeous. They really bring back memories. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. I so want to go to Taiwan. I once saw a story about it in the Lonely Planet magazine and have been thinking of going there ever since. I hope it will happen soon. Beautiful photos by the way!

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