Feeling at home in Taipei By Beth...


January 13, 2002|By Special to the Sun


Feeling at home in Taipei

By Beth Snowberger


Last summer my parents came from our hometown of Westminster to visit me in my current home of Taipei, Taiwan. I came to Taipei to spend a year studying martial arts. That was three years ago.

I found myself addicted to the sensation of learning new things every day without even trying. After a year of job-hopping, I landed a fun position teaching English at a Taipei university.

My parents spent several days exploring the city, taking in the sights and smells of the dry-goods market, the sounds of chanting and firecrackers from the Taoist temple near my apartment, and the tastes of stir-fried clams with garlic and hot pepper.

They also got a taste of Taipei drivers. In a taxi going home from the National Palace Museum, their driver discovered he'd made a wrong turn. Without a glance, he made a quick U-turn directly into oncoming traffic. Nobody collided, honked or even raised an eyebrow.

Although my folks are accustomed to Maryland summers, they were exhausted by the oppressive humidity. Even on an 80-degree day, one drips just walking down the street (unless one is a native Taiwanese, in which case one looks cool as a cucumber at all times).

After spending a few days in the city, we got out into the countryside. Before heading to the hot springs in the southeast, we spent a few days in Taroko National Park, midway down the east coast. My parents have backpacked in some of the most beautiful parks in North America, and still the Taroko Gorge, much of which is carved through marble, took their breath away.

Above the chasm, the mountain peaks are covered with lush vegetation, and are home to wildlife, waterfalls, temples and aboriginal villages. The bit of rain we encountered kept most other tourists off the winding trails and wreathed the mountaintops in thick, eerie mist. It seemed as if we had walked right into a classical Chinese painting.

We were pleased that the hotel at the top of the gorge, the Grand Formosa, can arrange tours or drop-offs and pickups at trailheads.

The hotel restaurant served Western and Eastern food, so we could be adventurous depending on our mood. I nearly coaxed my father into eating snake eggs one morning. While these cured eggs taste good, their appearance is a little jolting: the egg whites look like semi-translucent black jelly.

Hiking and relaxing along Taiwan's east coast turned out to be the perfect counterpoint to our urban touring. My parents enjoyed seeing Taipei but got the most pleasure from the fresh air and astonishing scenery of Taroko.

Beth Snowberger lives in Taiwan.


Long-awaited sunrise

By Ethel Redmer, Cockeysville

Our visit to the Canadian Rockies was beautiful. We started in Seattle and ended in Banff National Park. This is a picture from our bedroom window of a sunrise over Lake Louise. We waited 51 years to make the trip here, but it was worth the wait.



Iona Ogilvie, Annapolis

"A visit to my son and family in Copenhagen in May was wonderful. The entire countryside was in bloom, and the air was clean and crisp. Frederiksberg was one of the highlights of the trip. It was beautiful inside the Frederiksberg castle, and one could spend several days enjoying the magnificent artwork and antiques from centuries ago."


Bob Galiszewski, Baltimore

"When you walk amid the ruins in Rome, you realize you are tracing the steps of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Nero and all the figures from ancient history. Never have I been to a city where you realize your life is just a small niche in the overall timeline of history."


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