Exploring Beyond Evergreen: Touring Taipei
July 27, 2016
After our busy days in Thailand, my colleagues and I visited Taipei, Taiwan, for two short days to explore various collaborative opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level with Fu Jen University, the only Jesuit, Catholic University in the country.
Looking back on the two days, it was fun to travel with Andre Colombat, Ph.D., Loyola’s Dean of International Programs, as I truly saw just how exciting it is for him to explore a country he has never visited.
We arrived just in time for dinner on Saturday night. Initially, the reception desk at the Chateau De Chine suggested that we eat dinner at the hotel; however, when we realized that we could get an authentic, local meal—hot pot style Chinese food—we headed across the street. The food was delicious, and it was terrific to join families from the local neighborhood for dinner.
Sunday gave us the opportunity to do some sightseeing and to try to get a sense of the city before meeting with our new colleagues at Fu Jen. So, Sunday morning, my husband, Andy Futterman, professor of psychology at Loyola, Jen Lowry, Andre, and I decided to take advantage of what we soon learned was an amazing subway system. We purchased 24-hour Taipei Metro passes and headed across the Tamsui River from New Taipei City (where we were staying close to the University) to downtown to explore some of the parks, local stores, and to get an early lunch.
The Taipei Metro was super easy to use, sparkling clean, and filled with families, teenagers, city residents, tourists, and many others. Looking a bit lost when we had to change trains, a woman introduced herself to us and it turned out that she had lived in Hawaii for ten years and worked as a tour guide there as well as in Taiwan. I think she would have given us a tour had we not scheduled one already. We quickly realized just how great it was to have such a newcomer-friendly subway system.
After lunch, we met up with Chin, our tour guide, as we decided that the best way to quickly get to know the city and gain a sense of Taiwan’s rich history would be through the eyes of an experienced guide. He took us to see the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall just in time to watch the changing of the guards; the National Revolution Martyrs Shrine; a traditional Taoist Temple; and the National Palace Museum. Officially, Chin gave us an overview of Taiwan’s history; however, over the course of the afternoon, he shared some of his thoughts on Taiwan’s politics and even gave some dinner recommendations. There was far too much to see for just a Sunday afternoon.
Using our Taipei Metro passes, we traveled to the Da-an district for dinner. While we thought that Chin had recommended a specific noodle restaurant, it turned out that he had sent us to a fun, lively part of Taipei that was filled with a variety of restaurants, mango shaved ice shops, and lovely boutiques. The Da-an neighborhood was booming with people out and about on a summer night and seemed to be a mixture of local residents and tourists.
We had a delicious dinner at a traditional Taiwanese restaurant specializing in seafood, soups, and noodle dishes. But the treat of the evening—and perhaps the entire trip—was Taipei City’s mango-shaved ice with fresh mango and other fruit, including kiwi and strawberries. Mango-shaved ice is hard to describe, as it is nothing like sorbet, popsicles, or Italian ice, but more like mango-flavored ice with a cotton candy texture—truly spectacular! We waited on a long line at the Smoothie House, featured by CNN, to join in the fun of eating mango-shaved ice.
On Monday Andre, Jen, and I spent a good part of the day at Fu Jen University. Founded by the Holy See in Beijing in 1925 and rebuilt in Taiwan in 1961, Fu Jen is the oldest Jesuit, Catholic University in greater China. There we met with Dr. Michael Lee, immediate past dean of the business school and now vice president for international affairs. The associate dean of the college of management, a professor of economics, and one of their program directors who works on international collaborative programs joined us for a lengthy meeting where we discussed the development of a program that would bring Fu Jen students and students from other universities in Asia to study at Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business, and the possibility of our undergraduates studying at Fu Jen for a summer, semester, or year.
After a very productive and exciting meeting, Michael, his colleagues, and three members of the Fu Jen Jesuit community treated us to a lovely Taiwanese lunch, which gave us the opportunity to talk some more. Lunch included at least 10 courses—and I must say that the hospitality of our Fu Jen colleagues was contagious. Jen, Andre, and I look forward to working with our new colleagues at Fu Jen University in the coming months.
Before leaving Taipei, we returned to the bustling Da-an neighborhood for a traditional noodle dinner and another round of mango-shaved ice!
Tuesday morning, Andy and I left for Indonesia, while Jen and Andre prepared for their flight to Japan.