Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Taiwan. It's gone by different names as it's been discovered and ruled by different people over time. When Portuguese explorers first caught sight of this beautiful island in 1544, they called it accordingly: Formosa. More years brought more names from more people: the Dutch, the Japanese, the Chinese. But to me, the best name is the one affectionately used by Taiwan's own people: the sweet potato. The curvy tapered coastline is behind this pet name, but it fits in other ways too. A sweet potato looks quite a bit like a regular spud, but one bite tells you that, unless you look inside, you entirely miss the sweetness that sets it apart. Marc and I experienced a whirlwind trip to Taiwan and we're taking you along. It's going to whet your appetite but, trust me, you're going to want more. I am so excited this morning. Air Canada invited us on a trip to Taiwan. They are celebrating the one year anniversary of their non-stop flight from Vancouver, Canada to Taipei, Taiwan and I can't think of anything I would rather be doing at this exact moment than getting on a plane to go to Taipei for the first time. But first we have to get on that flight. Our first impression came before we even left the tarmac and it set the tone for the entire trip. Ok we've just got off the plane and the woman who was sitting in front of us heard us talking about how this was our first time in Taiwan and she leaned around, she's like, “Welcome to Taipei! I hope you have a wonderful time!” and I just thought, wow, what an introduction to this country. Such warm people so far from what we can tell. Yeah. Hello guys! Welcome to Taipei! Yay! On the drive into Taipei, you can't help but notice that one building towers above the rest of the city. There is no massive skyline here and that's what makes it stand out, like one tall tree that stretched above the others to get a better view. And a better view is exactly what we wanted, so we went there first to start at the top. This was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010 when Dubai took over. It's meant to look like a big stick of bamboo but it's 101 stories which is what gives it the name Taipei 101. We've just come up to the 91st floor which is outdoors just in time for the sunset and there's a very nice breeze up here too. Our first full day in Taiwan also happened to be the hottest day in recorded history in 122 years! Good timing, eh? The perfect day to head to the beach for a sand sculpture festival. I've never been to anything like this. I used to make a few sand sculptures as a kid like everyone but this is some pretty next level looking stuff. Oh nothing, just another day at the beach in Taiwan looking at international sand sculptures. Someone's gotta do it, I guess. The record breaking temperature already had us breaking a sweat so we chased the breeze by cruising into the countryside. We rented some bikes and it's going to get a lot cooler and a lot darker because this is a two kilometre long tunnel we're about to go through and it was originally built to connect Taipei with the east coast because the terrain is really mountainous unless you cut right through. Riding through this old train tunnel was my first taste of how Taiwan looks forward while preserving what's come before. Some parts of the world are eager to knock down old things, as if they somehow hold back the future. But here there's an understanding that the present is deeply rooted in the past. It's inspiring to see what's possible when abandoned sites are transformed and people move back in. We visited a place where it wasn't people that moved back – it was nature, reclaiming her territory. We're in Tainan at the Anping Tree House and this is no ordinary tree house it is literally a house, or a warehouse formerly, that has been taken over by huge banyan trees. Tainan is an old city in Taiwan and this whole area was full of warehouses and they were abandoned at a certain point and nature just moved in and they're here to stay. And now it's called the tree house because that's what it's become. Everywhere that you look out of the bricks, out of little crevices, crawling up and over, are all of these incredibly beautiful limbs of this huge banyan tree – multiple banyan trees. This is definitely something that I love. If you're someone like me who has ever kind of thought about or wondered what the world will be like without humans and how nature will take over and what that might look like it's so interesting to see it here and just seeing how this tree just envelops this building and takes over and it's become this beautiful testament to the fact that whatever we build, nature is bigger. And when humans aren't here anymore, nature will be. It's staggering to see how quickly tree giants can break their fists through brick walls and swing their legs over the eaves, making rooftops into tree tops. I always wanted to live in a tree house growing up, just like Swiss Family Robinson and I think I have found the perfect tree house scenario here. Just find an old building, let the banyan trees move in first, then move in. I could totally live here. Would you live in this tree house with me? I would absolutely live in this tree house with you. Ok when are we moving? I felt really at home in a country that sees the beauty in letting trees stretch their way into houses, piercing new holes to let the light in. Of course, light comes through wherever you look for it - even underground, like at the Formosa Boulevard subway station in Kaohsiung. It's amazing to see how light can transform a transient place full of rushed commuters into a place to pull over and look up. All of the glass was shipped to Taiwan from Germany and as you look up you'll see there are four distinct parts that represent the circle of life. First water which represents birth, then soil which is growth, light is creativity, and fire which represents destruction but also rebirth which brings you back full circle to water. Speaking of water, we boarded a ferry that zipped us across the waves to a tiny island called Xiao Liuqiu. This fleck of land is less than seven square kilometres: more than enough room for all sorts of charm and discovery. We arrived in time to get a scooter and chase the sunset. As the sun went down, the moon came up, and we felt a particular kind of giddy freedom I've only ever found on two wheels. There's us, there's the moon, there's us, there's the moon. The next day we got back on the scooter with a map in our hands and the intent to explore the entire island in our heads. Our first stop? One of Taiwan's most iconic landmarks that's made of coral limestone and sits in the shallows just shy of shore. Here on the island one of the most recognizable landmarks that we really had to see is behind me. This is known as the Flower Vase because after years and years of erosion it has this beautiful vase-like shape and eventually of course it will tumble into the water so we're just lucky to see it here while it's still standing. We're driving around this beautiful island. We just stopped at the Flower Vase and our next stop is the Beauty Cave. That breeze is heavenly! I could drive around here all day. We just arrived at the Beauty Cave and got our tickets. I think this very graphic illustration is meant to warn us about hitting our heads on the rocks. More warnings to watch our head. I guess they're serious. We better be careful. Oh yeah. Whoa! May have to shimmy through this part. Local legend goes that women used to come to this cave to wash their faces and hair. When men saw these bathing beauties emerge, they named it the 'beauty cave.' Look how cute our scooty looks in this parking lot. We just arrived at the Black Devil Cave and it's hot. I'm not gonna lie – it's hot! It's pretty cold, eh? I'm freezing. I feel like I should have brought a sweater. I'm absolutely freezing. It looks like it. I'm totally freezing. Oh yeah. You know what – Someone get me a sweater. We should put a thermal on. Yeah, for sure. Did I mention it was a bit hot? Water time! It's not even cold and it's the best thing I've ever had. Sometimes drinking water just isn't enough to cool you down and the only solution is full body immersion. We are driving to the water because we're going snorkelling in search of sea turtles. At the snorkel shop we got fitted with wet suits, booties, and life jackets. About to go snorkelling! Can you swim? Yeah. -Ok. I've been snorkelling and SCUBA diving in different places but never seen a sea turtle. I felt hopeful that this would finally be the day as we got back on the scooter – in head to toe neoprene - and drove down to the beach. Sea turtles! We took hold of a rope and floated out to deeper waters. I felt cooled down and energized bobbing along. It was heaven. ♬ I'm in heaven ♬ ♬ I'm in heaven ♬ ♬ I'm in heaven ♬ I felt overcome. My hands flew to my heart as the words 'thank you' vaulted out of it, sprang from my mouth, and leapt up through my snorkel. I was overwhelmed and all I could think was: I'm in Taiwan, my arms and legs move, my heart beats, my lungs breathe. I am so lucky. A moment of grace that you recognize from the inside as it's happening which amplifies it and your heart swells in a lasting way. We saw more than one turtle and each time made my heart feel more and more elasticized. I thought my heart might burst when one turtle – the biggest one – came right up to us. We swam within a metre of him for what felt like an eternity. He was eating and didn't mind at all when we silently pulled up a chair at his dining table. He was right underneath me! Yeah, it's just right here! Wow! Woohoo! Yeah! That is one of the most incredible things. Yes, incredible. Like I feel like I'm going to cry. And it's huge, like, this big. I didn't know turtles could get that big. Oh my god. My size. About the same size as me. About the same size. Oh my god. My heart. So cool. After such a high on Xiao Liuqiu we headed back to the mainland to get grounded. From the salt water of the sea to the fresh water of a lake, we found our footing again at Lotus Lake. We're in Kaohsiung at Lotus Lake and I love the story of how this place came to be. It was built in 1976 and the man who ran the temple here said that the Buddha visited him in a dream and he saw this image of the Buddha standing on top of a dragon and the Buddha told him to build something in that image so this is what they got. The word is that when you walk through the dragon's mouth you are blessed and all around are lotuses floating in the water and lotuses represent purity and when you first walk in you'll also notice that there are a whole lot of turtles because turtles here represent longevity. We're on the other side of Lotus Lake now and behind me are two towers with seven levels and those seven levels are special. They are meant to represent the seven levels of goodness – good deeds – and so when you enter you're supposed to enter through the dragon's mouth on the left and then exit through the tiger and this is to make sure that you leave all of your bad luck behind. We want to achieve the top level of good deed so we're going to climb the seven stories. Wish us luck! We're already rewarded after the first floor of good deeds because the breeze is amazing. It's worth it. I wonder what the top level will be like. We tried to get to the top level but it's blocked. There's a metaphor here somewhere, I'm sure of it. How will I do my seventh deed of goodness?! I'm about to exit through the tiger. Here's all my bad luck and I'm leaving it.