It’s been such a long and crazy journey since my time backpacking in Taiwan, yet week after week I remind myself and pinch myself that I was really there. I think visiting Taiwan was the turning point in my travels. It was 2009 and though I’d been to China, Russia and Belarus before, it felt like I hadn’t tested myself enough on my own. Taiwan was the clincher. It was a game changed, I’d turned the corner and it was all too beautiful.
“It’s all too beautiful” – Itchycoo Park
Getting lost in the rapids in Tailuga (Taroko Gorge), reflecting on life from the sun shooting tower of Chiayi City, the Baguashan trail, hotpot in Tainan, being the only male tourist in Xinying and bus tripping through Shitiping up the east coast. It was all so crazy, so fulfilling and so exhilarating. But we don’t enjoy it enough at the time, we get caught in that moment. Reflecting back with my hoverboard in hand, here in 2015, I remembered how fucking cool Taiwan was. Here’s a long overdue top 5 from Anping. Magical. A sun sank over Anping, I cracked open an ice cold tin of Taiwanese lager and life was damn damn good.
1.Anping Fort (Fort Zeelandia)
I’m not sure if the Chinese or Taiwanese were into building forts or not. I think they stuck to building walls. The Dutch however sneaked in, named the island Formosa and built forts. Fort Zeelandia here in Anping still stands and welcomes tourists.
The beach was brilliant. Crashing in on the waves, watching surfers, hanging out with my new Taiwanese and Croatian friends and motorbiking through the manic streets. It was all bliss. What a beautiful beach.
3.Fukien Temple (Heaven Empress Temple)
When I saw that there was a Fukien Temple here, I did burst out laughing. Schoolboy humour will always be a part of my life, but this temple was awesome in the end!
4.Anping Tait and Company Merchant House
Here is magical Anping, I was surprised to find a building that was built by the British. Back in 1867, the Brits built this merchant house for trade. It’s now a museum and houses artefacts of Dutch, Chinese, Taiwanese and British times.
5.Anping Tree House
So we decided to visit a “tree house” and I expected nothing other than a tiny wooden hut hanging from a tree like in a 1980s USA film. However, this one is the nuts. It’s actually a tree in a house, or a house in the tree – it’s massive and is one of the most photographed tree houses in Asia. It’s not dissimilar to the place at Ta Prohm in Cambodia, where trees have grown over ancient ruins and temples.
So if you are in Taiwan, please head to the south west corner and stay in Tainan city. From Tainan, you can walk all the way to Anping, get a bus or get on motorbikes if you meet some cool locals as we did. It’s only 4 kilometres from Tainan city to Anping. Backpacking in Anping is nothing short of magical. Completely inspiring, go see it!
Here are some videos from my time in Taiwan backpacking in Anping: