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Explore Cuba: It's time to embrace the world

Author/ David Chang

When people talk about Cuba, what would that appear in your mind?

Cigar? Vintage car? Rum?

Yes you can find these in Cuba but there are much more to see and experience in this exotic, beautiful country.

One of the major reasons that I visited Cuba is that it is a mysterious island that has been locked up for more than 50 years. I am always curious about the country/city/people and I want to see and explore it.

Also, beaches in Cuba are famously, so as a beach lover, I must go to visit the place!

How to get there?

There is no direct flight from Taiwan to Cuba. If you depart from Taiwan, you have a couple of choices to transfer from, like USA/CANADA/Europe/Other Latin American countries. And yes it does require Visa for entry, but it is easy to get one- you could just buy the tourist card when you check in for the flight.

These are the three cities I visited, given my six days in the country: Havana- the capital city, Varadero- the famous beach city and Vinales- a beautiful village strongly recommended by others.

Now, let’s explore!

People said the airport reflects a country. When I arrived in Cuba, I found the international airport quite small but the officers were well-mannered and educated, so I think people should be generally nice here.

Having been placed under embargo for more than 50 years, Cuba faces certain economic restrictions, like how one cannot use credit card in here, but only cash. There are two kinds of currencies in this country- Most of the time, CUC is for tourist, while CUP is for locals, and the former is worth 25 times as much as the latter.

One easy way to differentiate the notes is this: you can find pictures of buildings on CUC notes, while CUP notes consist mainly of pictures of people.

After I check-in at the guesthouse, I was very hungry. Unfortunately, food in Cuba was not delicious. Any attempt to try just any random sandwich or hamburger turned out disappointing. Base on my experiences, the solution is to look out for the Tripadvisor icon on restaurants, a badge of assurance that the food there will be at least passable, remember the icon., Having said that, however, there are some famous dishes you need to try, such as stewed beef & grilled pork, and if you like seafood like me, you must try their lobsters, costing only around 400-500 NTD. Compared to the price of a similar dish in NY, which can go up to more than 1000 NTD, lobsters are indeed quite cheap and very delicious here in Cuba.

After introducing you to the “must-eat” , what about the “must-do”?

Someone once said that Cuba is a country well-loved by men, as you can not only find top quality of cigar and rum but also vintage cars.

I would definitely say try out the vintage cars! Havana is like a museum of vintage cars; there are so many fancy cars everywhere on the streets. Whether or not you are a car lover, it is truly a unique experience exploring the city in one of these beauties.

Lastly, I would like to share my favorite place in Cuba, which is Malecon. It is also featured in one of the scenes in Fast and Furious 8.

Sitting here, watching the coast line, is really a wonderful experience.

While I watched locals enjoy their time, I was thinking about “happiness”, and how sometimes, all people need is really simple.

From my observation, most of the local people in Cuba are happy, they don’t need to worry about the survival and they have good relations with their friends/family. In Taiwan, we may be richer and enjoy more convenience, but we are not always as happy as them. What happened? If we can reduce our desire for material and instead, to spend more money on getting experiences/ building memories with friends and family, I believe our people would be happier.

Today, Cuba has already opened the door to the world, so to see the original Cuba, I would suggest people to visit, to explore, to feel, and enjoy the place.

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