Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • 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 backit 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 treemultiple 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 lieit'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 scooterin 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 turtlethe biggest onecame 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 goodnessgood 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.