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A guide to Taiwan, published in English by the world-renowned Michelin Travel and Lifestyle, was launched at a gala ceremony at Taiwan's representative office in New York Thursday.

The New York office was decorated with lanterns and spring couplets and it laid out snacks such as traditional yuanxiao -- glutinous rice dumplings -- and other Taiwanese delicacies in reflection of the information in the book and in recognition of the Lantern Festival, which was also on Thursday.

Taiwanese officials, representatives of Michelin and major U.S. media organizations such as the The New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS, attended the worldwide launch of Michelin Green Guide Taiwan.

"Taiwan, a new addition to the Green Guide series, is famous for hot springs, great hiking terrain and delicious snacks, " the publisher's promotional blurb on the book says.

The information in the guide was contributed by 10 foreign writers and it took three years to complete the book, according to Cynthia Ochterbeck, general manager at Michelin Apa Publications.

The response has been enthusiastic since pre-ordering of the book opened online, she said.

Parmeet Grover, brand director of Michelin North America, said that although he has never been to Taiwan, he is enamored by what is described in the book, which notes that Taiwan society fuses East and West cultures and oozes a special ambience that combines tradition and modernity.

Grover said he would very much like to visit Taiwan and savor the Taiwanese delicacies described in the guide.

The Michelin guide promotes a unique side of Taiwan, which makes visitors want to return again and again, said Andrew Kao, director of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York.

Another aspect of Taiwan is the comfort and convenience of traveling throughout the country, information director of the office Tony Ong noted.

For example, Taiwan taxi drivers speak basic English and provide excellent service without expecting tips, Ong said.

In addition, visitors can find clean restrooms at MRT stations, round-the-clock convenience stores everywhere, and free wireless Internet access in public places starting April, he said.

The 388-page English Taiwan Michelin Guide lists 38 towns and regions in Taiwan as three-star must-see destinations, 142 as two-star recommendable destinations and 138 as one-star interesting destinations.

The must-see destinations include Taipei 101, Lungshan Temple, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National Palace Museum, while the two-star destinations include Sun Moon Lake, Jade Mountain, Kaohsiung City, Hsichu City and the Eastern Taiwan Coastal Highway.

The book contains 15 maps and many beautiful pictures taken by a 10-member multinational editorial team. It also lists the Chinese names of the locations.

The guide describes Taiwan as a place more complex than California's "Silicon Valley."

"As soon as you arrive in Taipei you will be bowled over by Taipei 101, a skyscraper symbolizing the economic strength of this modern metropolis. And as you take a closer look, though, you will also get a glimpse of ancient Formosa in the teahouses, magnificent temples packed with visitors, and sumptuous religious processions, " it reads.

Taiwan is the fourth country in Asia to be included in the Michelin travel guide series, after Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

(Source: Focus Taiwan, Date: 18FEB2011)


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