Taiwan Travel, Without the Basics


The October issue of the Condé Nast Traveler includes a series of features about Asian countries. One of them catches my eye immediately, because it covers my home country—Taiwan.

Surprise is my first reaction to this story. Since Taiwan is not a typical tourist spot, I rarely read articles about it in travel magazines, not to mention such a popular magazine as CNTraveler. I hope this article can successfully make readers plan a trip to Taiwan, but after reading the whole article, I feel it will not be a stimulus for tourists.

From the title “The Other China,” the story shows a clear angle in politics, which I think is not the most attractive point to tourists. Another confusing point is, the writer, Dorinda Elliott, almost omits all the tourist information, which makes the story impractical.

In the first paragraph, Elliott writes “Taiwan was once an affront to the mainland, a repository of everything that Mao wanted to wipe out.” She then describes lots of details about Taiwan’s political history, such as the civil war, early authoritarianism and the long-term relation with mainland China.

It is even too trivial for me, a Taiwanese who had learned a lot about the history of Taiwan. I can’t imagine it interesting a reader who barely knows these complicated events

What good is a travel article that doesn’t entice travelers to a destination based on its attractions? Elliott mentions a few – Dharma Drum Monastery, and the famous restaurant Dintaifung – but she skips Lungshan Temple, the most popular religious site in Taiwan, and ignores the delicious fares of Taipei Raohe Street Night Market.

CNTraveler’s principle is “Truth in Travel,” requiring writers to travel anonymously and pay their own way. The writers travel the way real people do, no matter good and bad. This kind of style might create original stories on countries that have been reported many times. But Taiwan does not suffer from over-exposure. Readers need basic information.

Unfortunately, Elliott’s story is more like an abstruse travel diary. It includes too many trifling observations and historical detours, and overlooks the key to attract visitors. The story succeeded at making me homesick, but it might never be a hook for Taiwan tourism. 

-Amy Su


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