The first time I came to Taiwan I fell immediately in love with this small country, which many travelers seem to miss whether they fare in the north around Japan and South Korea or they are stuck in South East Asia.
Taipei is until today the only megacity I could seriously imagine to settle down and to live there.
It is like every other metropolis crowded and frantic.
But the friendliness and calmness of the people, the street food you can find anytime of the day, the safety, the convenience and cleanliness of the city redeems everything.
Taiwan got me on the first day. You can’t really escape its charm and before one knows it Taiwan holds a firm grip upon you.
I came to the airport and as soon as I left the baggage claim and declaration, I bought a SIM-Card and withdrew some money.
You can find the big and main providers like Taiwan Mobile or Chunghwa Telecom at the airport with the mobile data options for 5, 7, or 10 days and more including unlimited 4G LTE data (with no throttling or speed reduction) and some credits for calling and texting.
I always took Chunghwa Telecom and there was nothing to complain about. Get also a EasyCard and charge it with some credits.
Believe me I would never travel without an EasyCard in Taiwan again.
So much convenience in one card, you can pay with this card for the public transport, renting the U-bikes all over Taiwan and pay in many convenience shops like 7-Eleven or Family Mart.
A better name would be ‘Smart-Card’ or something like that.
I’d like to thank two people who are one of the biggest reasons for my idolatrously love for Taiwan.
May I introduce you two of my closest friends from Taiwan?
Sunny is a girl I admire with all of my heart.
She is sporty, thoughtful, one of the funniest person I know, witty and intelligent.
She just published this year a book about her world traveling, unfortunately in Chinese. Sunny taught me to be more self-confident and to take things in a relaxed, easy manner.
Due to my young age, I get quickly scared on my travels but every time I think about her, instinctively I calm myself down.
The second person is Solis, who I met at Harold’s place in Hong Kong.
He is truly like an angel for me. He is such a generous, altruistic and lovely person. Even though sometimes I am super annoying, he is still there for me and help me out in every situation.
We had crazy nights and countless adventures together, which we will never get off our minds.
As I said places and countries are only as great as their people.
On my first day I met up with Solis and we went to the Shilin Night Market. It is the most famous night market in Taipei, I was lucky to live in Jiantan next to the night market with the result that I would eat there more often than I actually planned to.
Food vendors and stalls, storefronts and roadside stands, clothes, karaoke or fortune-telling gives you the feeling of confusion where to start, everything your heart desires can be found there.
I ate 7 different dishes on my first day in Taipei and nearly vomited.
Everything you see is mouth-watering – from fried buns, bubble tea to candies. You think you will lose weight in Taiwan?
Hahaha, good joke, it is almost impossible.
We went together out of fun to a fortune-telling, the lady predicted a rosy future for me.
But she recommend Solis if he wants to have a better future he should change his name (one character in his name was undesirable), throwing the boy into a crisis.
He thought seriously about changing his name but finally came up with the conclusion that it is nonsense. Respiring I could finally sleep well again after his decision haha.
The night markets are affordable, I guess that’s why I couldn’t control my eating habits in Taiwan.
Shilin Night Market starts to open around 4 pm and the crowds reach their peak between 8pm and 11 pm as students will finish school and join the night markets.
Saturdays and Sundays are the worst days to visit the night market.
The other day I ‘climbed’ Xiangshan also known as Elephant Mountain with a peak of 183 metres (600 ft). From there you get a stunning view over Taipei and gaze after Taipei 101 (I have to admit only with good weather conditions). Solis and me have the talent once we spend time together to lose our orientation, so at the end we needed 2 hours to find back to our scooter.
In Bali I made friend with a Taiwanese girl called Cherry.
She is infinitely cute, friendly and adorable.
I met up in Taipei with her and we went out with her friends to Taipei 101 and a festival.
Other places in Taipei you can visit but I don’t have any photos to show you. Why? – I will tell you soon.
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: It is a huge national monument erected in memory of the former president of the Republic of China.
The guard shift-changing performance starts on the hour everyday from 9 am until 5 pm in honour of Chiang Kei-Shek.
CKS is very controversial among Taiwanese people.
- National Palace Museum: Pieces of hundreds of thousands of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts. Full-day visit.
- Ximending district: Find the latest trends and technology in buzzing Ximending with people in every corner.
- Daan Forest Park: A city-center park next to the memorial with playground, footpaths and ponds with wildlife.
- Hsing Tian Kong: Famous temple in Zhongshan district.
- Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
- Tamsui and Beitou Hot Springs: Good for a relaxing and cold days. Attention: The guards there are very strict and scream at everyone who doesn’t follow the hot spring rules.
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum
- Longshan Temple: Watch how young people pray for love in front of the love goddess and make your own wish.
There are more things to do, but these are the main tourist attractions.
I also went to Taichung and Tainan, each for two days.
Taichung is the third biggest city in Taiwan but not as crowded as Taipei.
In a future blog post I will narrate about my time living in Taichung for nearly 3 weeks.
But at this trip I lost all my pictures from Taichung.
Tainan is very famous for food. When you will visit Taiwan, everyone will tell you ‘Tainan has the best food’, but I am not sure about it.
I guess Taiwanese people and I have different definitions about what qualifies food to be excellent.
But don’t get me wrong, the food in Tainan is heavenly tasty.
So I ate in Tainan most of the time delicious food and visited some old historical buildings. Tainan’s historical importance is out of question.
It is the oldest city of Taiwan and was over 200 years the capital of the island.
Until today you can still recognize the japanese influence in Tainan during the occupation period
(for example the japanese style buildings and houses).
I came back to Taipei to catch my flight out of Taiwan.
I spent the last day with Solis and we originally planned after eating some sweets like ‘Douhua’ and Taiwanese Shaved Ices to ride with the Maokong Gondola and having a scenic landscape view.
As soon as we arrived our destination, I descended from the scooter and desperately searching for my phone.
Nothing found except my own version of being pathetic and hectic.
Also the gondola was closed due to thunder and construction work (premonition?).
We decided to drive all the way back to search for my stupid phone which wanted to play hide and seek with me.
I was sure to have lost my phone on the way, while I tried to put it back into the shoulder bag.
It was in the late afternoon, we went back and forth until Solis suggested me to search my iPhone from the mobile phone of his friend.
So I used the phone of Solis writing a friend in panic he should tell me the apple-ID and password.
I wrote it somewhere and left it at home. Usually I never buy something on AppStore so I didn’t remember the ID and password.
She could locate my phone and sent us a picture of the location, I started to raise hope again. But the roads took us somewhere in a remote area of the mountains. Two crazy and insane people on a treasure hunting like during the California gold rush, but we found nothing.
Additionally I went to the police and watched all the footage from the cameras in the mountain area, again and again.
I even discovered both of us on the scooter. At least we got to know which roads we took on our way to the gondola.
Still, exhausted and with no clue we tried to keep continuing.
Stressed out and sad we went home to meet some of his friends who came to visit him. One of them was learning fortune-telling and told me if we would go out again and searching in the shrubs we might be successful.
Bullshit. But when I listened to him a sparkle of hope arose.
Crazy like we are, we left the house at 1 am to search for a phone which might be destroyed already by the downpour in the evening.
Silly and stupid guys like us can’t give up and there is a German
proverb which says, “Hope is the last to die”.
Equipped with lights, sticks and warm clothing we searched the following 3 hours in the mountains for a phone, which wasn’t our focus anymore, but our adventurous thirst was still alive.
At 4 am we gave up after trembling and freezing in the cold, we went home and I got the best sleep during my stay in Taiwan.
Happy and annoyed by the events, we had to say goodbye to each other in the morning due to my flight in the afternoon.
I really don’t like the thought, somebody might watching right now the photos on my phone while I am writing this blogpost, weird…
I don’t have only fairy and unicorn stories to tell.
This is also part of my travels and unfortunately or fortunately this kind of stories will last eternally in your memories.
I am a lucky person during my travels.
But there is always one day in a regular distance of time, in which my fortune is annoyed by me, goes away and leaves me behind.
Nevertheless, the events of my last day in Taiwan couldn’t stop my fascination for this country.
Later, I decided to come back by the end of December to live in Taiwan for more than 3 months.
My adoration for Taiwan is down to the present day unalterable.
See you next year again, Taiwan!