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  • Alex Gillam

Where in the World: Taiwan

Transformed after years of colonial rule, the Taiwan of today is a liberated land of economic and cultural prosperity, a country whose lively traditions are as radiant as its towering sea cliffs and postcard-worthy vistas.

It was here, in the 1980s, that one of the world’s most popular drinks, Bubble Tea, was introduced to the world. After shutting down his failed hot pot restaurant, local entrepreneur Tu Tsong He was struck with inspiration while strolling through the Yamuliao Wet Market – after spotting one of his favorite childhood snacks, fenyuan (tapioca balls), Tu had the idea to combine the chewy treat with rich milk tea for a one-of-a-kind flavor combination. After opening his first shop, Hanlin, the drink became an overnight global sensation, and now the company has branches all over Taiwan, the United States, Canada, China and more.

As the adage goes, “good things come in small packages”, and Taiwan is no exception; 3.4 times smaller than New York, you can drive around the entirety of Taiwan in 8 hours (or 2 hours by high speed train), meaning that you’ll spend less time commuting and more time taking in the highlights of the country.

One such highlight is Taipei 101, the World’s Toughest Building. Once the world’s tallest building, this 101 floor icon of Taipei is now recognized for its durability – because of the building’s proximity to a fault line, a 730-ton damper is used to steady the building’s shopping centers and world renowned restaurants in the event of earthquakes, typhoons and more.

Another, more unlikely, highlight of the country is the unique way in which trash is collected: to prevent garbage from lining the city streets, waste management trucks instead travel around town collecting trash directly from residents; to ensure that residents never miss out, the trucks play Beethoven’s Für Elise as a wholly unique way of prompting people to bring out their garbage.

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