Travel / What I'm Reading

Expatriates on Taiwan

In the last few months I’ve found many others besides Taiwanese who love Taiwan. Some are American photographers living in Taiwan, like Californian Brian Q. Webb (www.photojazz.ws). Others are government officials, like Dutch diplomat Menno Geodhart and Mariko Poimboeuf, the Japanese wife of the former French diplomat to Taiwan.

Just this year, both Geodhart and Poimboeuf have published books on their experiences in Taiwan.

The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative is a guidebook for tracing the history of the Dutch in Taiwan. The seafaring Dutch had discovered Taiwan in 1590 and had occupied the island, then called “Ille Formosa” or “Beautiful Island,” from 1624-1662. Only when Cheng Cheng-kung defeated the Dutch in 1662 did they withdraw from the island.  As a representative from the Netherlands, Geodhart can thus present a unique perspective on a land both his own yet not his own.

Next time I go to Taiwan, I’ll be sure to pick up this book and see the sights for myself.

Taiwan, une bonne surprise! book cover

Taiwan, What a Pleasant Surprise! by Poimboeuf portrays Taiwan through the combined perspectives of the Japanese and the French. Both cultures are known for their excellence in design and cuisine, and Poimboeuf finds that in Taiwan they have melded to form something uniquely Taiwanese. The book examines museums, designers, restaurants, and places of cultural interest to the modern visitor. Poimboeuf also gives tips on the proper way to eat 小龍包.

Taiwan, What a Pleasant Surprise! is a delightful read, lavishly illustrated with photographs and laid out attractively by 天下 publishers. Like most books published in Taiwan, this volume is a work of art in itself.

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