Illustration by Sophie Lee.

My Trip to Taiwan

Student Travel Diaries: Leewen Wang

May 30, 2023

I used to visit Taipei each year to spend time with my Taiwanese family, but because of the pandemic, Taiwan became a place in my memories. I longed for my grandparents, friends, delicious foods, busy malls, and countless other aspects of my other home. Fortunately, during this Lunar New Year vacation, I returned to the island to reminisce on old memories and shape new ones. Let me share what I loved about this place. 

Leewen and Dylan snap a quick photo after arriving in Taiwan. Photo by Leewen’s mom.

Local Eats

Right off the bat, my family and I headed to my favorite bubble tea place to enjoy the chewy, sweet delight in its usual spot. But sadly, the shop was no longer there. Well, at least I got my hands on everything else over the journey. We devoured our family’s favorite soup dumplings (小笼包), Ay Chung flour-rice noodles (阿总面线), my childhood teacher’s home-cooked food, and spicy hot pot (麻辣火锅). In particular, I craved the savory spiciness of the authentic ma-la hot pots with every sip I took.

Leewen’s childhood Chinese teacher prepares a home-cooked meal for her family. Photo by Leewen’s mom.

I also relished the local treats that satisfied my sweet tooth. On a trip to the market with my grandma, I got my hands on tropical fruits not easily found in Korea: dragon fruit, mango, lychee, mangosteen, and more. I got several of my favorite desserts as well – pineapple cake (凤梨酥), wang wang rice crackers, and Nougat sandwich crackers. 

The taste of the Ay Chung flour-rice noodles (阿总面线) makes people wait in line. Photo by Leewen Wang.

But some delicacies weren’t my cup of tea. When I visited a marketplace, the pungent smell of stinky tofu overwhelmed me and I just passed it up for the future. Long story short, I loved everything I devoured – except the stinky tofu. 

Leewen and her childhood teacher’s families gather around for a special catching up dinner. Photo by Leewen’s mom.

Lunar New Year

People crowded the streets of Taipei to celebrate the Lunar New Year. They had every reason to. Red and gold decorations with Chinese characters decked the festive streets. Firecrackers crackled in the background as families laughed and invited each other to join the fun. I strolled along the jam-packed streets with my family as people greeted each other, “Gong xi fa cai (Happy New Year)!” I also chimed in with an occasional new year’s greeting as well. I sure had a special experience.

Taipei supermarkets are full of red and gold lunar new year decorations, welcoming each customer. Photo by Leewen Wang.


We visited Taiwan’s landmarks as well – Xi-Mending (西门丁) and Taipei 101. I had such a pleasant time that I did not want to return to Korea. At Taipei 101, people flocked to see performances and circus shows. Even better, I spent hours at the trendy shops that lined the streets near these tourist attractions. 

Taipei 101 glows in the night in celebration of the Lunar New Year fireworks. Photo by Leewen Wang.

We also revisited a place close to my heart – a department store called SOGO. As a young child, I bought all my favorite toys and clothes at this shopping center. I wanted to return for other goodies that catered to my now more mature tastes. I fawned over cute school supplies, water bottles, chic shoes, and more. Best of all, I got a neat pair of Nike Air Force 1s. 

Leewen poses in front of the famous building in Ximending. Photo by Leewen’s mom.

 Throughout the trip, I shared three years worth of stories with my grandparents and laughed over delicious dinner. I heard locals speak Chinese and tried to say some phrases myself as well. But at the end of the 4 day journey, I had to go, and I regretted the brevity of our trip. As we promised to see each other next year, I thought, “I’d love to visit Taiwan every year like before and connect culturally with the Taiwanese part of my identity.”

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Comments (4)

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  • J

    jennieMay 31, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    I want to visit taiwan so much! Taiwan is a fascinating country with awesome food!

  • W

    WillyMay 31, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Even though I am Chinese, I have never been there.

  • D

    Daniel BeckMay 31, 2023 at 7:25 pm

    I think it is a good thing to reconnect with family members and cherish the memories because it won’t last forever :>

  • T

    TendyMay 31, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    i also visited Taiwan this winter and I already miss it so much. Taiwan is such a good place to travel to!