Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hunting for souvenirs in Taiwan (Verve)

Unlike Bali and Bangkok – where tourists snap up paintings, woodcarvings, and even large pieces of furniture – Taiwan hasn't become known abroad for its keepsakes. Several places are famous within the country for their distinctive local products. More often than not, however, these products are some sort of comestible that can’t readily be packed in a suitcase. Stinky tofu from Shenkeng in Xinbei, for instance, does not travel well.

Taiwan's exports have found their way to every corner of the world. While this is something Taiwanese people are rightfully proud of, it does mean that visitors to the island sometimes struggle to find charming and distinctive mementos that they can take home and share with their friends and relatives.

Fortunately, in south Taiwan there are plenty of options if you're willing to strike out into the countryside. Meinong in Kaohsiung is synonymous with beautifully painted oil-paper umbrellas. The nearby aboriginal village of Sandimen has an extraordinary concentration of artists and craftspeople. Meanwhile in Mudan in Pingtung County, artisans hand-make soap from the town's hot springs...

This article appeared in the December issue of Verve, EVA Air's inflight magazine. The photo here shows Paiwan aboriginal women in Sandimen making glass beads.

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