For a long time now, Taiwan has skimmed happily under the radar, escaping the attention of otherwise gimlet eyed devotees of all things stylish and perfectly designed. In the main, this has suited the Taiwanese just fine; more to go around without the troublesome effort of catering to nosy visitors. After the turbulent six decades that followed Chiang Kai-shek’s arrival from China, it’s nice to finally be able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of all that frenetic nation-building.
Indeed, Wallpaper’s visit to this cone tree-shaped island a year ago (W*136)
revealed a country that is steadily gaining confidence on all fronts – from the political and economic to a burgeoning artistic, architectural and dining scene.
More than that, we encountered a country prime for its close-up. And there is plenty more to applaud, as we discovered on a recent follow-up visit. We booked seats on the disturbingly efficient High Speed Rail system and sped south from the capital Taipei along Taiwan’s western spine. At key stations, our team of writers and photographers spilled out of the trains and scattered into the countryside to document landscapes of unearthly beauty and talk to architects who are reframing the built urban and rural environments. From the cool dampness of the rain soaked north to the warmer, more tropical reaches of the south, we uncovered a wild side of Taiwan that few outsiders know about. The landscape, created by ancient tectonic convulsions, alternate between soaring peaks and bubbling hot springs that lure spa lovers and extreme adventure sports fiends alike. Effortlessly, we fell in love with the great stretches of beaches pounded by insanely invigorating surf and humming artists communes. It’s also not surprising that a world of such contrasting beauties
should also produce successive generations of gifted, opinionated and individualistic film-makers. The colours and light create a perspective that’s impossible to duplicate elsewhere, a fact our photographers noted more than once during the shoots.
Our advice? Book a plane ticket now. We already have.