Less than a year old, the Instagram account @We_Are_Now_In_ has attracted a loyal following for its beautifully curated collection of Taiwan travel destinations. Combining photos of their own personal travels with those submitted by followers, Marcos and Chia-Yu, the boyfriend and girlfriend team behind the account, document the stunning diversity of Taiwan’s landscape, from lush mountain forests to alpine lakes and tropical beaches. Speaking from Hsinchu in northwest Taiwan, Marcos reflects on past travels, future plans and 10 of their favorite places to visit on the island.
You were in Europe before living in Taiwan. What prompted the move?
I was studying in Spain, and I had traveled around Europe a lot already. I decided to go to Asia and came across an internship in Taiwan. Originally, I was supposed to come here for three months. I fell in love with the country and asked my boss to stay longer. Now it’s been three years that I’ve been living in Taiwan. I met Chia-Yu after one year.
What distinguishes Taiwan from other places you’ve traveled to? What’s different or special about it?
There are two main things for me. The first is it’s a small island, very convenient. And I love nature. Here, nature is very accessible, and it’s pretty easy to travel around. You can go from the beach to the mountains in one to two hours. It’s amazing. And the landscapes are beautiful. I’ve never been in a place like this before. The second thing is the people – the locals. They are truly friendly and nice to us. I feel really, very welcome in this country.
If you had to describe Taiwan in a few words, how would you describe it?
A small island with a big number of possibilities.
What inspired @We_Are_Now_In_?
We wanted to write about our travel experiences and hopefully help future visitors find inspiration and new places to go. We mostly post about Taiwan since it's the country where Chia-Yu and I have been traveling together.
You’ve been in Taiwan three years now. Are there still places in the country where you haven't been and want to go?
There are so many places. In the future I would like to go once around Taiwan by foot. It's a very popular route among Taiwanese (it's known as 環島 "huan dao") but they usually do it by scooter or bicycle. At a walking pace, I believe it will be a much deeper experience for us. But we will need a lot of time for it!
Could you tell us about a trip that stands out above the rest?
My favorite trip was a couple of months ago in Taitung, in the southeast. I was there for five days and traveled along the east coast by bicycle. I really enjoyed the variety of landscapes. Having blue ocean views on one side and the green mountains on the other was a one-of-a-kind sight. The most beautiful part for me was from Hualien to Yilan, where the roads go along the cliffs. This side of the island is my favorite because there are less people, and the people there are extremely friendly. I remember one day I went out of my hostel without my phone, and I had just my map. I managed to do everything I was planning to do with the help of the locals.
What’s something that a first-time traveler might not know about Taiwan?
I didn’t know anything about Taiwan. When they told me that it’s an island maybe 1/10 of the size of Spain, and they have mountains as high as almost 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), I couldn’t believe that. Like I mentioned before, you can travel from the beach to the mountains in a couple of hours. This is something that for the first time really surprises you.
Is Taiwan going to be a permanent destination for you or do you see a move in the future?
We are planning to travel for three months in Europe and will probably come back to Taiwan. We love this island. We can’t stay away from it for long.
Explore 10 of @We_Are_Now_In_'s Favorite Landscapes Around Taiwan:
This mysterious forest, located in the center of Taiwan in Nantou is a photographer's dream. "It had been raining the day before, and it was really humid and misty," the couple wrote on Instagram, "so it was perfect for this kind of mystic picture."
Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan, is located in the Yuchi Township, 2,454 feet above sea level. Marcos and Chia-Yu captured this photo at dawn: "The sun is rising, and the lake is flashing hellos."
Taroko National Park
Taroko National Park, one of nine national parks in the country, spans three counties: Hualien, Nantou and Taichung City. The park's most famous feature, Taroko Gorge, is a stunningly dramatic, white marble canyon carved through the mountains by the Liwu River. Waterfalls pour down the cliff walls and the bright reds and oranges of the Chinese-style, Eternal Spring Shrine pop against the lush green landscape.
Snorkelers flock to Taiwan's Green Island, a small hotspring-dotted island located a short distance off the coast of Taitung. Beautiful coral reefs ring the shores and gigantic rock formations earn playful names like Pekinese Dog and Sleeping Beauty Rocks. "We got into that natural pool to swim with hundreds of colours [of] coral and fish," Marcos and Chia-Yu wrote with their post. "The water was unexpectedly cold, which made it perfect for a boiling hot day. Not to mention how clear the water was, almost didn't need snorkeling goggles."
Qixing Mountain, located in Yangmingshan National Park on the rim of the Taipei Basin, is the tallest (now dormant) volcano in Taiwan. Considering the sweeping views and far-from-everywhere feel of the trail, the hike is suprisingly close and convenient to get to from Taipei.
Xitou Nature Education Center
Plentiful rains and cool winds make Xitou, located near Lugu village, a lush and sought-after retreat during summer months. The National Taiwan University operates an experimental forest here with towering cedars, red spruce, Hinoki cypress and tortoise-shell bamboo. "The fog that covered the entire area made us feel like if we were in an enchanted forest," Marcos and Chia-Yu described. "We took this photo at the University Pond, which is probably one the most photogenic places we have ever been to!"
Located in the Ruifang district, the BuYan Pavilion feels like the top of the world. Located on Country Road 102, the road to the pavilion traces the contours and spines of the mountains, offering 360-degree views. Marcos and Chia-Yu recommend going on a weekday to escape the crowds and watch the sunset.
Located just north of Taitung City on the east coast, Dulan Beach is one of Marcos and Chia-Yu's favorite surf spots. The black, volcanic sand beach has a relatively forgiving break, most of the time, that's good for beginners. The Instagramming duo recommend borrowing a book from the free English library in town in between rides.
Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Located in Taoyuan, this towering, 164-foot waterfall can be experienced three ways: from an observation tower (where this photo was taken), a transparent skywalk or from down below where visitors can swim in the large pool that separates the main falls from the cascades below.
The jaw-dropping Qingshui Cliff, located along the Suao-Hualien Highway on the east coast of Taiwan, drops more than 3,280 feet straight into the sea. Marcos and Chia-Yu call it "the most beautiful scenic area in the entire coastal route of Taiwan." The highway cuts right into the cliff, offering sweeping views of the ocean on one side, and a sheer rock face on the other. "The feeling riding on this road is pretty much like flying over the Pacific Ocean," the couple wrote on Instagram.
Marcos and Chia-Yu
Follow their Instagram for more Taiwan travel inspiration.