Wasn’t expecting much from this as the travel sites did not list masses of things to do in Taipei, or all of Taiwan for that matter. We ended up here as it was cheaper to get flights with a stopover here than it was to fly directly to Shanghai from India. So be it…we will have 4 days in Taipei then. The smog here is comparable with Beijing and Shanghai. Having arrived we love the place. The people are really friendly, super helpful and have much better English than most of China. The food is fantastic and the longer term western influences have meant that the hybrid restaurants do not have that weird fusion taste that we have had throughout India and China… we have been eating ourselves silly.
Our first major tourism foray was to hit the Raohe Night Market which is one of about 8 major night markets that operate throughout Taipei. Our market happened to be the foodie market (purely by coincidence) with a little bit of shopping. We had not planned this and had eaten before we arrived so it was a little wasted…but we came back the next night to fully sample the magnificent wares on offer. Whole suckling pig, every type of seafood imaginable, grilled goodies, fried titbits, fresh juices, noodles aplenty, local sausage and dumplings at every turn.
The key thing that they managed to do was to revolutionise the “Dagwood Dog”…that battered sav on a stick dipped in sauce sold at every royal show, easter show, ekka… whatever you call your version…step one…add a spiral of batter all the way up to catch more sauce… brilliant…step two… wedge French fries into the gaps formed by the spiral…How are we not funding this.
Taiwan is built amid the mountains with high rises and green areas aplenty. The population on this small island equals that of Australia but despite the population density there are forests and heavily wooded areas everywhere. The roads are magnificent wide, efficient and multi-layered. We took the Maokong Gondolas to the top of the local area for some great views of the city. The one obvious standout here is Taiwan 101 the 101 storey high rise that was the world’s tallest building between 2004 and 2010. Add to this the zoo which claims to be the biggest in Asia and you have a pretty full day. The ever present smog plays havoc with the concept of photo taking but so be it.
A change of hotel and a wander around town saw us hitting the peace park and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and gardens. that night we headed to the biggest of the markets (the Shilin Markets) but found it was mainly jammed with locals and tourists shopping for knock offs and playing sideshow style games (shooting, darts, clowns etc). This made the walking almost impossible and my attention span is greatly reduced when it comes to ambling and meandering crowds. So we had a quick bite of soft shell crab, dumplings and off we went. It is spring here and is relatively pleasant with 28 degree days and a fair bit of humidity. The one thing that concerns me is just how hot does this place get. The locals are walking around in fully quilted jackets in 28 + humidity.
The long awaited beer blog…I have been capturing the images and keeping notes of the various beers I have been trying, but my website skills are not up to loading this in the manner that I want them. I am hoping to have these in a sortable format across multiple columns so it can be ranked by my rating out of 10, country, name or alcohol content. Thankfully “the boy” in Canada does have some skills so I will be forwarding my excel spreadsheet to him to see if he can establish a separate page for the various beers that we have been taste testing. So far we do have a clear winner and a clear loser…surprisingly both come from India.
Jill added a new tab for those who haven’t noticed yet and it is the travel tips tab. These are some tips that we have picked up along the way in our travels. Some just handy to know for any sort of travel trip and others specific to the countries. Simple things like before we left we spent a fair amount of money in getting several universal travel adapters…in hindsight we could have saved money and been more efficient if we had bought one adapter and a cheap power board with Aussie plugs (in fact the boys meeting me in Hong Kong are bringing us just that). Needless to say that with the current level of technology there is an app for just about everything…but not all apps are created equal and Jill has been road testing them and shares her not inconsiderable knowledge.
On the positive side I got severely hassled by the immigration officer while attempting to leave Taiwan. He questioned me for what seemed like a very long time and having let me pass he then came and tracked me down 20 minutes later, inside the terminal, to recheck my passport and any other forms of ID that I had. His issue was that since I have left Australia I have lost a fair amount of weight and have picked up a tan and I did not look like me. In his defence I had been living in the ACT for 8 years prior to leaving so was sporting a Canberra tan, and when we left both Jill and I were the fattest we had ever been. Our trekking and travels have seen us both ore tanned and skinnier. Lets not be silly here I am still carrying too much weight but we are both headed in the right direction.