It’s getting closer and closer…
In exactly one month we will be on a plane with destination Taipei city!
For those who didn’t know it yet, we have decided to move to Taiwan for a year!
Well, because it’s one of those countries that offer working holiday visas, which allows you to stay there for one year. (More on WH visas soon)
Again, why Taiwan?!
Because it has been a while since I’ve had the chance to practice my Chinese, I hope I haven’t forgotten everything! Because I have lived in Shanghai before, so I’m curious to see the differences. Because we’re craving real Asian food! But the main reason is we have been dreaming of travelling for a long time. We’re ready for this new adventure and any opportunities that may come with it!
Taiwan might not be very well known or in your top 10 list of countries to visit. But this small ‘country’ sure packs a big punch. The Portuguese didn’t call it Ilha Formosa – ‘beautiful island’ – for nothing! Mountains, beaches, jungle, cities, temples, hot springs, … are all within your reach in less than 2 hours!
Where will you live?
We have no idea! We have booked an AirBnB for the first week. In the meantime we hope to find an apartment/studio in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
What will you do there?
We have no idea! Haha, actually that’s not true. Sander can continue working as a freelancer. A laptop + good internet and he’s all set!
I, on the other hand, will have to find something once we’re there. Meanwhile we hope to see as much of Taiwan as possible and maybe explore some neighbouring countries.
Taiwan, not Thailand.
Or Vietnam, or Tokio, … Since we’ve told everyone we are moving to Taiwan, people have been coming up with a lot of different countries we’re supposedly going to live. Haha! I understand Taiwan isn’t as famous as Thailand when choosing a holiday destination, but hopefully we can change your mind after this year!
So where exactly is Taiwan? It’s an island in the East China Sea, east of the People’s Republic of China and north of the Philippines. It’s a little bigger than Belgium but houses twice as many people!
Taiwan, not China.
Now we’ve come to the difficult part. Above, I already wrote about Taiwan being a ‘country’. Well… that’s not completely true. Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC). Mainland China is called the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Until the end of WWII, Taiwan was occupied by the Japanese. After the war, Taiwan came back in the hands of China, where the Kuomintang was in control. The Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, was the ruling party of the Republic of China. But in 1949 Mao Zedong and the Communist party seized power, which resulted in Chiang Kai-shek – leader of the Kuomintang – and all the ROC loyalists fleeing mainland China to Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek declared Taipei as the new capital of the ROC, meanwhile Mao founded the People’s Republic of China on the mainland.
So they both claimed to be ‘the real China’. This created a problem within the United Nations. The ROC had a seat in the UN, but more and more countries started to recognize mainland China and in 1971 the PRC officially became a member of the UN. Taiwan is now a de facto sovereign state, but most countries do not acknowledge Taiwan, thus they cannot have official diplomatic relations. (However, many maintain unofficial relations)
In short: To this day, the relations between Taiwan and mainland China are a touchy subject! Because one side is pro unification with mainland China and others are pro independence… In January 2016, the Kuomintang lost the elections and Taiwan elected its first female president. Tsai Ing-wen leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China.