We arrived in Taipei after a rather annoying triple leg plane journey, but what can you do. Problems immediately: the Airbnb place we had booked was not good. Aircon barely worked, the bed was clearly a single, and there were a solid bunch of ants in the room. On to the hotel next door! Luckily we got a great deal on a great room (which had a rainbow lights jacuzzi bath…).
We took in a lot of Taipei on our first long walk - turns out it’s moped heaven. Also, billboards everywhere. We visited one of the main temples. A neat place, where there were all sorts of activities: people were throwing pieces of wood and picking sticks at random to have questions of chance answered for them, others left food offerings (including full cans of coke etc). Later I bought a milk pineapple: it’s basically the perfect fruit. We ate at James’ Kitchen, great food.
We settled in our hotel room, and then headed back out to catch the World Cup final. Firstly, we heard McDonalds would show the game if they had a TV…. Sure enough, we popped into one and they were showing the pre-game stuff on their small TV. We found a humorous Japanese bar, and ended up watching the game with a mostly Japanese crowd, eating loads of food. Nice one. Hard luck Messi.
In the next couple of days we bounced around Taipei, eating food, going up towers - well, just one tower, Taipei 101 - walking through streets and parks. It’s a pretty city, and the Taiwanese are a great bunch. The humidity on top of 35ºC was a bit much, but we survived. The people here are a very cool bunch, very nice and helpful.
As mentioned in the last post, the coffee scene in Taipei was just OK - better than Beijing and others for sure, but not Shanghai. And almost every place requires at least one drink per person! Such an annoying rule, especially since we never stayed very long. We did find one good place by accident.
The night markets are the bomb. Very busy, which handily can allow you to get a rough feel for good places by their queues. The whole city has pretty solid fare (or else we just did well), including a super popular breakfast place, Fuhang Soy Milk. It’s always a bit of fun to queue up with locals no matter the food. Worth mentioning that the chain Din Tai Fung is from Taiwan, the makers of great dumplings, even if we only went to the Shanghai branch (Hong Kong branch has a Michelin star). Seriously though, the Taiwanese are fuckin’ food maniacs, I love it.
Billboards, billboards everywhere. Kinda grows on you. The billboards and the mopeds should have a fight, see who’s more numerous.
We headed up north of Taiwan to a town called Beitou, famous for its hot springs, and resorts which use the hot spring water. We went to a sweet resort with nine different pools of various (hot) temperatures. It was like 33ºC outside though… Still good. Later that day we headed on to a seaside town, Tamsui. Has a lovely bridge called Lovers bridge. Only issue is that the bridge looks expensive, and yet pretty pointless, since it saves like 5 mins walking time. We took a couple of ferries around the place here, good times. Both these towns feel miles and miles from Taipei, but they’re both on the metro line.
I also won an inflatable hammer by shooting balloons, which we gave to a little kid - he then started beating his siblings with it, amazing.
We headed down to the eastern part of Taiwan to visit Taroko Gorge, a gorge-ous place. Like the lazy bastards we are, we got driven up about 25km and cycled our way back down, stopping along the way for views. Well worth a visit. Waterfalls, mountains, all the usual stuff. Comically, that night we spent most of an hour chasing a mouse out of our room via the window, the two of us with pillows and our host with a wooden signpost. We were happy in the room, until we heard more scurrying from inside the aircon unit… We changed room at that point. We burned up time the next day wandering around Hualien city (where we ate in McDonalds…) until getting the train back to Taipei.
Great country, would visit again. I’d recommend reading up on the complicated history it has with China (and seeing why it’s controversial to actually call it a country).