Recreating Postcard Memories: Lessons from Family-Fun Taipei

Nothing is more rewarding than traveling with your family—the ones who loved you first.

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At this age or as part of the—ahem—Millennial Generation, we initially want to travel with a) our barkada, b) our special someone, or c) all by our lonesome. Traveling with the family would hardly be the priority or even an option.

In the last quarter of 2015, my brother and I decided to give our parents a trip as a Christmas Present. The initial plan was a coin toss between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Both of them had these three factors in mind: efficient transportation, “family-friendly reputation” and superb food. However, when we pulled out our excel sheet and did the math, it would’ve been pricier than we thought especially since we were targeting the holidays.

And then my brother asked, “You’ve been to Taiwan, right? You loved it?” and I answered yes in a heartbeat. Then he agreed—underrated Taiwan it is. It has all the characteristics of HK & SG but most of all—it’s way more affordable and quite charming.

Below are some lessons I’ve realized along with the activities we did during this trip.

I’ve learned that landmarks of memories lives and relives.

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We’ve all had our share of family trips when we were younger. Our parents fixing our trips in Luneta Park, Disneyland, Ocean Park, Golden State Bridge, Mactan Shrine, Singapore Merlion and lots more. Since we were minors then we didn’t have a full appreciation on these iconic spots and our parents pariently explained everything.

What made this trip wonderful making sure that we visited all the tourist destinations in the short span of three full days. It was our turn to show our parents around and tell them about the background, history and trivia on these places. We also reminisced about our last family trip which was like more than decades ago! It felt like this time, we were paying it forward.

We went inside and up to the observatory of Taipei 101 which has the fastest elevator according to Guinness Book of Record. We visited the Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, gushed over its excellent architecture and took a very educational tour of the museum. We also ventureda little bit out of the city to the Golden Waterfall and enjoyed the view of the Yin Yang Sea which gave us a glimpse of their mining industry.

I rediscovered how special bonds tastes like.

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Taiwan is a food haven for all kinds of tourists. The list of food to try in this city just goes on and on –from Xiao Long Baos to Stinky Tofus to Milk Teas to Hot Starr Chicken! Our favorite would be Beef Yong Kang Noodle which is a few blocks away from the Chiang Kai Shek Museum. The line can get pretty long during lunch time so best to go there earlier so that you can secure good seats. Get the spicy-broth version and allow the beef meat just melt in your mouth. The steamed spareribs is also to die! Another place worth checking out would be a Japanese restaurant called, Sumie. Degustation style, this may be a bit pricey but worth every single bite. Everything on their menu such as sashimi, fish, salad and fruits are all fresh and served in fairly reasonable portions . One highlight is the soft, juicy, flavorful steak.

Food tripping in the Shilin Night Market is quite fun! We fan out, following our individual cravings, exploring the endless food stalls and then meet again to taste each other’s discovery. I wanted to eat the beef cubes while my brother would rather get one of their breaded chickens, my dad opted for the grilled squid and mom just wanted the shaved ice dessert! Makes it quite fun and we were all adventurous!

As four adults living our own lives it has been next to impossible to set up a family dinner back in the Philippines. Ironic but true, what we couldn’t arrange at home, became possible (and more fun and delicious) when we went out of the country.

Each family member is a star and together they shine.

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Pinxi draws in the crowd with their enchanting lantern festivals—the Sky Lantern Festival and the Chinese Lantern Festival. The custom is to write one’s dearest wish or prayers on beautiful, outsized floating lanterns then send it up to the sky. But even without these events, Pinxi is a beautiful reflection of Taiwan’s natural scenery, history and culture.

My favorite part of the trip was definitely our visit to the charming town of Pinxi. Since we’re four, each of us had our own side to write all of our wishes. We were all a star for our own family lantern! It was funny because there were just so many things we wanted to say but we opted to draw different symbolisms and add key words. When the four of us let go of our lantern up to the air, the experience was quite magical. We felt that our prayers and wishes as a family will all be answered by the heavens.

Here’s another take on why each family member was a star during this trip. My dad apparently knew more about Asian History than any of us; my mom was good at pointing out where to have our photos taken or remembering all the names for pasalubong, my brother was “Mr. Check & Balance” to make sure we were still within our budget, and he was also a great navigator; I’m proud to say, I was the queen of the itinerary and the friendliest one. With all these characteristics, we were able to shine together.

We all have no regrets on this destination, it was the perfect place to wave 2015 goodbye and welcome 2016 with open arms. At the end of it all, it doesn’t matter where you go with your folks and sibling/s. My brother and I thought instead of buying them something expensive why not give them something priceless and create new memories. There was a huge pause button for most of us when we started to get engrossed with our work, friends and significant other. Nothing is more rewarding than traveling with your family—the ones who loved you first.

About the Author

Charisse Vilchez

Charisse Vilchez

Charisse Vilchez is a lefty, a frustrated singer, and a people person. She believes in butterflies, unicorns and that there's a pot of gold at the end of rainbow. She will eventually fulfill her dreams of having a sari-sari store in London or New York City depending on what happens after she travels around the world.