It all started back in our individual universities, when we wanted to explore, live and work in another country like a local. That’s when we chanced upon an opportunity to intern at Jiajia West Market Hotel in Taiwan. We applied for it, and here we are today.
Marc (left) and Kevin (right)
We were in Tainan City for a good two weeks, and it was extraordinarily fantastic.
We made many new friends. We learnt plenty about Taiwan’s and Tainan’s history. We learnt the importance of how the time-honored capital shapes the country we see today.
We started our first day and breakfast in Tainan with a really local dish called Gan Mian [乾麵] (aka. Dry noodles)
Gan Mian is a type of noodles that is mixed with some green onions, bean sprouts and covered by a meat sauce. It gives a taste that cannot be tasted elsewhere. The both of us loved it so much that we visit the store almost everyday for breakfast, so much so that the lady selling the noodles recognizes us.
Outside of work, we were introduced to many different things. For example, we have tried something that is known as Bing Lang [檳榔] (a.k.a. Betel Nut) (note: 18 years old and above only!), which is known by the locals here as “Taiwan Chewing Gum”. It is a type of herb that provides health benefits, but also a legal stimulant. However due to its unique taste and it’s addictive feature, we suggest the reader to only try it once for the experience.
While we are still on the topic on food, let us share with you some interesting information regarding Tainan-nese food.
If you had been to Taiwan and tried many foods, you will feel that food here tend to be sweeter. It is because the capital used to be a hub of sugar production. As a display of wealth (as many were wealthy then), their dishes tend to be sweeter, and the style of cooking had been past down through the generations.
Tu Tuo Yu Mian [土魠魚麵]
Compared to other regions in the country, people here have a sumptuous breakfast - beef soup. This again hints about the wealth of Tainan-nese locals back in the past.
Tainan has 3 big Ye Shi [夜市] (a.k.a. Night markets): Hua Yuan [花園], Da Dong [大東], and Wu Sheng [武聖]. One of the difference those night market have is they each open only on specific days. In order to remember which market opens on each day, the Tainan-nese used the “大大武花大武花” (Da Da Wu Hua Da Wu Hua) acronym in an increasing day order (Monday to Sunday) . 大 [Da] refers to the Da Dong Market, 武 [Wu] refers to Wu Sheng Market, and 花 [Hua] refers to Hua Yuan Market.
Moving on, time and time again we hear of the friendliness and hospitality of Taiwanese people.
Experiencing it ourselves really impressed us. One day when we were taking a bus heading to Guan Zi Ling [関仔嶺], a hot spring a short while from the main city in Tainan, we were lost and did not know which stop to alight. A lady on the bus suddenly came to us first and asked us if we needed any help. We were just really surprised that somebody would come out of her seat and try to help us without us even asking.
On a public bus, known as a Gong Che [公車].
For the two of us, the time has come for us to leave the ancient capital and make our way to Taipei. We had an excellent experience in this city, and would gladly repeat the experience all over again.
Many tourists overlook the city of Tainan in their travels and therefore is missing out a large portion of understanding Taiwanese culture and history. We hope that we have shared just enough for tourists to reconsider their plans if they plan to skip Tainan.
With Zek Min (another intern still at Tainan)
Zek Min (left), Kevin (middle), Marc (right)