One of the greatest journeys of my life was my first trip oversees to Taiwan in the summer of 1971. I traveled there with college students to study Mandarin Chinese. That was back in the day when Americans could not yet visit mainland China. But, while I was there, President Richard Nixon decided to visit Beijing and announced it to the world on July 15th, 1971. He didn’t visit China until the next February, but the announcement was something that took everybody by surprise! And, it made the Chinese in Taiwan very angry, understandably so. Chiang Kai-shek and his wife, Lady Chiang were still living. Taiwan, at that time, was a police state.
I was always such a quiet and shy kid. Traveling to Taiwan helped me to begin getting over some of that shyness. That was also back in the day of heavy drug use by students. I, of course, was a huge nerd and clean of drugs. while my roommate stayed home in the dorm and was constantly high, I went out and met the people of Taiwan. I had an absolutely wonderful time and have great memories of the Chinese and Taiwanese people. I actually became rather fearless . . . or, actually, rather foolhardy! I remember once that I’d hike five miles out into the country by myself. I walked through every section of Taipei. I traveled half-way around the world and gained some confidence.
Our group also visited sites together throughout the beautiful island of Taiwan. The mountains (above right), the spine of the island, are incredible! We went on a week long bus tour of the island.
Our student group lived at the Catholic Fu Jen University (left), which was located on the edge of Taipei in Xinzhuang . Fu Jen is an excellent university and before the Republic of China forces moved to Taiwan in 1950, it was located in Beijing and was the University of Peking (Beijing).
I love to read about Chinese history and culture. When I was a kid I read many of the novels of Pearl S. Buck (i.e. The Good Earth), which stirred my initial interest. I developed an interest in Confucianism, Buddhism, the Tao, and Tai Chi.
I am blown away by the fact that China has a history of 5,000 years! China is made up of over one billion people! It is absolutely amazing how quickly China has changed in what amounts to two life-times!! Even scholars and experts on China and Asia find it hard to keep up with the rapid change going on today!
I would love someday to be able to visit China, especial Beijing. The closest I got to mainland China in 1971 was Quemoy Island which was, at that time, I highly defended island directly off the cost of China. We could see people walking on the beach. The two China’s blasted propaganda at each other across the waters with giant speakers. They shot propaganda bombs across the strait at each other. I didn’t have a chance to get to Hong Kong on that trip. It’s another place I’d love to go.
The photograph below is the magnificent National Palace Museum in Taipei. I still have a reproduction of an ancient Chinese scroll I purchased there hanging in my library.
See my Pinterest page on Chinese Culture
I have traveled many other places in my life and this “path” will be dedicated to those travels as well.