The rectangle on the stick was the size of a popsicle and the color of red-velvet cake. Coated in peanut powder and rolled in cilantro, the delicacy wasn’t quite as gelatinous as I had expected—considering that I was eating congealed blood.
Pig’s blood cake is but one of the traditional food items found in Taipei’s numerous night markets (Shilin is the largest), where tourists and locals alike roam stall-lined streets while vendors sell food and drinks, clothing, and souvenirs. Stinky tofu (think smelly feet) is another. Wash it all down with your favorite flavor of pearl milk tea, a Taiwanese original more popularly known by its Westernized name—tapioca bubble tea.
Exploring Taiwan’s cuisine is a must for visitors, whether you’re an adventurous eater or prefer more traditional fare, such as the heavenly xiaolongbao (steamed pork dumplings) at the award-winning Din Tai Fung restaurants. Groups can arrange small cooking classes, where participants can learn how the chefs deftly make the tiny buns, each weighing 21 grams with the requisite 18 folds of dough, before sealing it with a twist at the top.
I had been prepared for Taiwan’s unique cuisine, but what surprised me is just how green the country is, with 258 mountains covering two-thirds of the island. The hills surrounding Taipei give it a more serene look and feel than other major Asian cities.
The area north of Taipei is known for its hot springs, and visiting one is a popular day-trip option for meeting groups. We spent an early evening relaxing in the white-sulfur waters at the Landis Resort, Yangmingshan, which was hosting events for Burberry and Honda that day. Its pools are nude bathing only, with separate baths for men and women. The three-star property, renovated five years ago, is located in beautiful Yangmingshan National Park, where along a hiking path up the side of a mountain, you can see steam and smell sulfur escaping through fissures in the earth.
A littler farther north near the East China Sea is the fascinating Juming Museum, featuring the works of Taiwan’s most famous artist, the sculptor Ju Ming. (I suggest reading his colorful biography on the museum’s Web site.) Eighty percent of the venue is outdoors on landscaped grounds that showcase his works, including the tai chi series from the 1970s and his 300 Republic of China soldiers, from the 2000s. Groups can hold events on the lawn under tents, and a theater in the main building seats 250.
I was also surprised and excited to learn that Taiwan now has a single-malt whiskey distillery, King Car, which distributes under the Kavalan label and is open for group tours and tastings. Just three years old, its expressions have already begun to win awards at world competitions.
The distillery is located in Yilan County, where we also participated in funactivities: creating an earth oven out of stones to cook sweet potatoes, and making Chinese paper lanterns that we then lit and sent into the night sky—a beautiful ending to a beautiful trip.
The author visited Taiwan for the first time in April, as a guest of Meet Taiwan, the government’s arm for MICE business, which can help meeting planners arrange all the activities mentioned here, and more.