Taiwan, I’m in love
This is a story about the first time I came to Taiwan when my mother-in-law and I visited my husband that was studying doctoral in Taiwan Tech. At that time we had a long-distance marriage, which was very hard and miserable for us. We only met each other once a year in a very narrow time.
This is the story of how I traveled to Taiwan for the first time. I went to Taiwan accompanied by my mother-in-law. Aside from the traveling, we were visiting Taiwan to visit my husband who was studying doctoral studies at NTUST, Taiwan. I was in a long-distance marriage, which was very difficult and sad. I worked as an Electrical Engineer in Indonesia while my husband pursued his study in Taiwan. Once or twice a year, my husband usually comes home. At that time, I hoped my husband will soon graduate and then go home and have a career in Indonesia. Until one day, my mother-in-law would like to visit him whilst having a vacation in Taiwan. This opportunity changes my perspective about Taiwan and eventually led me to decide to live in Taiwan.
What made me fall in love with Taiwan? A lot!
In the beginning, I thought living in Taiwan was very difficult because of Muslim needs such as halal food or ingredients. Some Muslim women, including me, wore hijab which is quite different from the locals. Also, another need is a community that can support minorities. All of that fear began to disappear when we were still at the Indonesian airport, and about to fly to Taiwan.
We accidentally met an Indonesian citizen who married a Taiwanese citizen. She also talked a lot about her work in Taiwan, and also how she has opened an Indonesian shop that offers Halal food. She and her husband also build a Mosque and its community and more. She even offered her house for us to rest if we had trouble finding any lodging. Probably this is how destiny is calling me. It's so amazing to meet random people and also very friendly.
Then we arrived in Taiwan. At the airport, we can find a prayer room and Halal food also available. It is so extraordinary, Masha Allah. We continued our trip by taxi to the inn which we had previously ordered. We are communicating in sign language while I showed the driver the address in Chinese. Gladly we arrived. The driver even let us pay for a cheaper price. The driver is really friendly, although we cannot communicate well with him.
Interestingly, the inn is not too far from the Tajin Moroccan Cuisine halal restaurant. So, for dinner, my husband brought some dishes from the restaurant to the inn. It was my first time to taste Moroccan cuisine, and uniquely, in Taiwan.
We spent the rest of the day leisurely strolling around the inn. We went to the traditional market, trying vegetarian food, taking transportation facilities such as buses and MRT which are very neat and convenient. We visit Mosques, Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall, Taipei Zoo, and also hunting Halal food in Taipei.
There are notably two restaurants that impressed us, namely Yunus Halal Thailand Restaurant and Halal Chinese Beef Noodle. Both restaurants delivered a really good experience and taste. The good thing also, we only need to take the MRT and walk a bit along the very comfortable sidewalks, to come to these restaurants.
On the weekends, my husband rented a car and the driver and then took us for a trip outside of Taipei. On Saturday we enjoyed the beauty of northern Taiwan, Jiufen, and Yehliu. We are going to have a different experience, from the busy and modern city of Taipei to the calm, beautiful coastline of Yehliu.
We were amazed at how the government took care tourism area and preserved it. Aside from beautiful beaches and rocks, we can also observe a lot of photographers trying to capture the moments of the animals that live in the area, whilst patiently waiting for the animals to come. This is one proof that the locals care about nature and they don't want to damage the environment for their gain.
Then we came to Jiufen. This is my request because of Ghibli's Spirited Away movie. I heard that several scenes were inspired by this city. I was impressed when arriving in Jiufen. We were welcomed by a small alley with stairs on either side. Along the way, there are a lot of shops with red lanterns placed in front of it. I feel goosebumps to walk along this alley. It is as if I will be meeting Kaonashi and Yubaba soon.
Not far from Jiufen, there is an Indonesian shop that offers Halal food and there is a prayer room too. We only make our prayer in that shop. We, then, went to one of the seafood stalls on Ruifang beach, which cooks without alcohol or any animal oils.
On Sunday, we explored Sun Moon Lake and the Flower festival in Xinshe.
At the first glance, Sun Moon Lake seems just an ordinary lake. However, it becomes special when we took a trip with the ship that takes us to around the lakeside. At every point, there is a story and the scenery looks beautiful and unique. Another thing that impressed me is that I rarely found any trash floating in the lake. Also, the air is fresh and clean.
My mother-in-law was very happy when we arrive at Xinshe. She likes flowers and bright colors. There are lots of flowers. From the front gate, we can see lots of flowers. It is as if we are surrounded by flowers. Unexpectedly, when we are looking for drinks, we stumbled upon a stall that offers Halal. Without hesitation, we went straight to that stall. The seller is an Indian and they are selling Halal food. We bought three Indian rolls.
Before heading back to Taipei, we stopped by an Indonesian shop in Hsinchu to eat and pray. This weekend was very enjoyable! It was amazing.
Finally, on the last days of our vacation, we are thinking about buying souvenirs for our families in Indonesia. My husband couldn't accompany us at that time because he has other schedules. My mother-in-law and I then decided to go to Ximending to buy various snacks. Unexpectedly, we found some products labeled as Halal products. Without hesitation, we bought it.
It was time for us to go home and return to our daily activities in Indonesia. We will be missing my husband. Aside from that, we are going to miss Taiwan a lot.
The convenience, the facilities, Beef Noodles, beautiful scenery, buildings, and its atmosphere. We will be missing all of that.
Then, I decided to make my decision. I, then, told my husband, what if I just live in Taiwan? Starting a new page of our life, by living in Taiwan together.
He said "Ok."
Now, here I am, living happily in Taiwan with my husband, and daughter, who was born in Taiwan. And of course, we still hunting every Halal food in Taiwan, especially Taipei.
write by Dewantika, Indonesia