So I began my travel adventures
I arrived in Heathrow Airport with my mum there to see me off. I checked in ready for my flight and ate at the pub while I waited for my flight. My flight was to Taipei via Bangkok, which was a coincidence as that’s where I’m planning on going to after my visit one week visit to Taipei, so I get a sneak preview at least.
I get to the check in desk and as I only have a one-way ticket I am given a scary release form to sign basically saying if Taipei doesn’t like your one-way ticket and kicks you out then it’s your problem and you’re liable for the costs, which got me a little worried about my arrival.
After many hours of being on the plane trying to sleep, watching films and waiting in Bangkok for my connection flight, I finally arrive in Taipei. What made it feel better was chatting to this Australian girl who has just been on the same flight from London and is now going on another connection flight to Brisbane.
When I finally arrived at the Taoyuan International airport, it was late and I felt very tired, but I had no issues at all at immigration. As I didn’t know how to speak Chinese and my phone network signal was gone, I just decided the simplest option at this point was to go for a Taxi, which for a 40 min journey into the city was only about £40, which was reasonable.
First Day in Taipei
Saturday.began early as I set off to have a look around. I still had no mobile internet and didn’t know my way around, but I found a metro station (MRT) and made my way to the main station, which is actually very easy to get to grips with if you’re used to London’s Underground Subway, as it was all colour-coded and had text and announcements in English.
I found a cafe that had WiFi while I was waiting for a phone shop to open but then left it late and decided to do that once I met up with my friend who spoke some Chinese, which would make the experience easier.
After little a struggle meeting him, I got a taxi to a station in a main area of town, the station I arranged to meet him had many exits and I had no way of contacting him and my battery was about to die, but we got lucky and found each other in the middle of the busy square of the Ximending shopping district (Ximen), what helped was that I do a good job of sticking out in a crowd here!
After going to the Zoo and not having any cash to enter and see the Pandas! I wandered off into town to find something else to do, and I thought about going to Taipei 101 as it’s probably my favourite tallest building in the world. Inside it was all very glamorous, the whole inside is basically just every designer shop you can think of and others you just forgot or didn’t know existed.
.I bought myself some fancy bubble tea made in a cafe which had the fashion of a 5 star hotel. I then proceeded to wander around and absorbed the feeling that I was rich enough to really enjoy this lifestyle, but really, even if I could, I’m not that interested in designer brands.
After window shopping with my bubble tea, I went to the top of Taipei 101 and looked over the city, which is overall very flat, with not many other tall buildings. The main part of the city was not all that green, it was only really the mountainous areas around the city that really made it look great.
That.following.evening, my friend, whom I knew from the UK, took me to a night market in town full of interesting street food. Before we got to try any food, though, we stumbled upon this trendy foot massage spa, which I decided to treat myself and James to. We chose a 40 minute foot massage, which was 500 NT$ each, which is only about £10, so it seemed pretty good to me if I think of it in relation to UK prices anyway.
After the massage, I wanted to try some new and interesting street food, so I decided to try the chicken’s feet. We both spurred each other on to eat it and it turned out to be nicer than expected, not sure the feeling was mutual on that!
We then stopped off at one of the many (actually very useful) 7 Elevens. There are all around the city to buy beers and then walk to Taipei 101, as James wanted me to get me familiar with where I am in relation to the massive landmark to make it easier to navigate around the city. Beer in hand, we walked towards Taipei 101 and it was a beautiful sight to see at night and perfect way to conclude my first day in the city.
I.climbed.up.Elephant Mountain with a friend of mine, both of us didn’t waste any time getting up the top to admire the view, and it was really worth the hike, the view was beautiful. The centrepiece of the cityscape was of course Taipei 101, while the sun set a crowd developed taking pictures while the sun came down, which was beautiful way to spend the evening.
We then went to a viewing platform where there were some people who were really serious about taking the best pictures of Taipei, my phone ran out of battery by this point in the evening but I still captured some lovely images.
Selfies.are.a.big deal here in Taiwan, as I’m sure they are in much of the rest of East Asia. People take selfies in the UK, too of course, but here, it’s an obsession and they would fare well if it were to be an olympic sport. I have been doing some practising of my own on the art of taking selfies, I found it works better for me when I am wearing sunglasses, haha. *cries in ugly tears*
I have the latest LG smartphone and it captures the pictures just by saying “Kimchi!!” which is really useful for keeping a steady grip of your phone.
Many people solve that problem with a selfie stick, which personally, I don’t see myself using. It’s a little over the top for my liking, I’d rather take pictures of interesting things I see around me.
I.was.looking.for an area of Taipei that I could explore that had some green space near by as there is not much of it in the centre. I had a look at the map and the nearest station was Longshan Temple, which as the name suggests is by a Temple and a very pretty one at that.
Here’s the reviews from Tripadvisor about this iconic temple. I’m not religious but with Temples such as this, they feel very welcoming and gives me a sense of calm and peace, I’m all too happy to experience for myself.
Once in the temple, you can buy a set of incense sticks light them over a candle and then pray to different Gods, for things like love, education, career, success and etc. There are more Gods than there are sticks, so you have to choose wisely!
I then went off and wandered to a big park lining the city next to more of a heath land than any kind of river, but it was still very lovely to explore. Many people used the park for a leisurely cycle. I would have liked to have done this, which I might go back and do it actually.
In Taipei, they have a bike rental system very similar to the Boris bikes in London. You can use the equivalent of the Oyster Card, called the EasyCard. Which you can also use as a form of contactless payment in local convenience stores, such as 7 Eleven, which are everywhere. Love it or hate them, personally I love them!
I.was.invited.out for a meal with a group of friends, and asked to meet at Zhongxiao Xinsheng station exit 2, many stations in the centre have about 6 exits which take you round long routes out of the station. After leaving the station, it really hits you how busy it is, even after being used to central London.
Lots of tall buildings with adverts about 8 floors tall, wide roads that you wouldn’t dare across unless the green man shows and a multitude of designer shops and mopeds driving all over the roads and pavements.
I met my friend and we promptly made our way to the restaurant in a more secluded part of town to find a bustling, canteen-like restaurant that had large fridges of eastern and western beers, as well as a big advert on the wall of a glamorous Chinese girl holding a tray of Tsingtao beers. We ordered using two menus, one was in English and Chinese and the selection menu was only in Chinese, so I made an effort to match up the Chinese of the things on the menu I wanted and did a pretty good job of it.
We then got a wide selection of food, as you can see in the picture below, all of it was very delicious and I tried everything, I ate one thing that looked similar to liver, and one of the friends there said “Do you know what that is?”, I said “No, but I still want try it”. Turned out it was pigs blood, as she told me after I tried it, and to be honest, it was alright but not something I’d overly recommend. So there we go I tried pig’s blood, as well as chickens feet so far, not bad going.
Written by Daniel Roberts
Currently living in Taipei, Taiwan as an English teacher. I’m from the United States, Texas. I’m in to all types of sport, and currently learning to speak and write in Mandarin Chinese.