When it comes time to finally burst our bubbles and travel overseas, Taiwan looks appealing.
The bustling island of 24 million might be just the jolt to the system you need to reinvigorate your hunger for new cultures and experiences.
The country was one of the first to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with fewer than 500 cases, thanks to its preparedness and world-class health response. It's been praised as one of South Asia's success stories, full of unscathed beauty spots and a uniquely rich culture with influences from Japan, China and the Pacific Islands.
Far from the supercity of Taipei, the island has many remote regions where you can find your own personal space.
Here are four of our favourites.
Work up an appetite on noodle mountain
High up the winding tea plantations of Shihding you will find Hsu's Handmade Noodle company. It's well worth the climb. The hand-stretching noodle workshop and lunch will whet your appetite. A flowing noodle slide from the kitchens adds a suitably Willy Wonka-esque dimension to the noodle factory in the jungle.
Hsu's Handmade Noodle Company, 3 Si Fen Zi, Wu Tu Village
Visit Taiwan's long lost "Kiwi Cuzzies"
In the past decade anthropologists finally proved what those familiar with Taiwan's indigenous culture and languages already assumed: the first tangata whenua to arrive in New Zealand had links to Taiwan. There has been a renaissance celebrating the island's original peoples such as the Atayal tribe from the northeast, whose facial tattoos come from a tradition spanning 1300 years.
In Pingtung, on the south of the island, the Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park (tacp.gov.tw) is a strange mixture of museum, culture centre and theme park – complete with roller coasters. For a more low-key experience, the nearby Rinari Tribal Development Center (rinari.pgo.tw) runs hikes and village tours by appointment only.
Burst your bubbles in the Rainbow Village of Taichung
Taichung city is the artsy metropolis on the way to Taiwan's mountainous interior. Apart from being gateway to the Sun Moon Lake and national parks, it's also the birthplace of "bubble tea". Yes, those tapioca beads served in a sweet frogspawn tea began here.
Where better to get a cup with a side of sun cake pastry – another Taichung delicacy – than in Caihongjuan or the "Rainbow Village." Saved by resident Huang Yongfu (aka Grandpa Rainbow) his paintings were a protest against the town's demolition. They're now a national treasure.
Hang on Taiwanese Coastal trail
Away from the famously mountainous interior, Taiwan's coast is equally stunning. In Yilan, to the east, you will find ancient drover routes such as the Caoling Historic Trail. To the north is a completely different landscape at the Yehliu Geo Park, full of naturally formed honeycombed fairy towers and landforms such as sea candles, shoes and the head of a Geisha.