Hello everyone! It’s been awhile since my last update, I must apologize. I’ve turned into a bit of a night owl here which is quite fun but means that I haven’t been to as many places in or around Taipei as I’d like. I’ve gone around to a good number of places, though, so this will be a little catch-up blog for a few days. Concerning food here, Dannysha and I have had authentic Japanese ramen and tonkatsu which were both astounding, some Korean food of which I forget the name, plenty of Taiwanese food, and best of all MEXICAN FOOD! Now, I can’t really say it’s as good as what you can get in America, but it’s close enough to quell my need for queso. We recently climbed a mountain and got some nice photos, visited a few night markets, wandered around the area near our hostel, went to the zoo and visited the Maokong area. I’ll be making a different post for those last two things, so for now just enjoy the photos!
Hello all! I hope this post finds you well and in good health, and possibly stuffed from a grease-filled Fat Tuesday! I didn’t really go anywhere of historical importance today, so I don’t really have any good stories for you. Instead, I thought I’d make a note of some of the things I like about Taipei so far. So, here we go!
1. CLEAN AIR!! Air quality was never something I gave much thought to in the States and is something I choose to ignore in China. But after living in China for about 5 months, it really is amazing how different a whiff of fresh air will make you feel.
2. FOOD VARIETY!! Kaifeng is fairly limited when it comes to food options in that you will be eating Chinese food regardless of what your taste buds want. Don’t get me wrong–the food is wonderful, but a taste of home is just that–home. While in Taipei, I’ve had french fries covered in cheese, a corn dog, some kind of Greek sandwich that was similar to a gyro, and those were just snacks from street side food vendors! There are a plethora of Japanese, Korean, Italian, Mexican, etc restaurants in the area. The only food I’ve had trouble finding is Taiwenese food.
3. SUBWAYS!! Not the fast food chain you silly Westerner, I mean the underground public transportation method! The Taiwan MRT system is just amazing. It’s clean, fast, well organized, and has decent hours. Most of the lines stop running around 00:30 so you’re fine unless you’re going to a late movie or a bar.
4. FRIENDLINESS!! The Taiwanese are very friendly, particularly towards foreigners. I’m not saying China isn’t, but let’s be honest–Taipei is a big city and people living in a big city usually aren’t the friendliest towards strangers. I haven’t had to ask anyone for directions yet, but I’ve had several people come up to me and ask if I needed help. In another instance, I was behind a young Taiwanese couple on the subway escalator (by young I mean they could have been anywhere from 15-30 years old) and they just turned around and asked Dannysha and I where were we going and if we liked Taipei. They also made some suggestions about places to see before we leave.
5. MUSIC!! Chinese pop music isn’t really my thing–it’s mostly ballads and ALWAYS melodramatic, but Taiwanese pop seems to be closer in relation to Korean and American pop which are much more dance-y. Because small shops selling anything other than men’s clothing will be playing the most popular tracks, music is of utmost importance.
6. PARKS!! There are parks everywhere in Taipei, just like Shanghai. I’m beginning to think this a common theme in many Chinese cities, and I love it. Sure, New York has Central Park but who needs that when you’ve got about 12409 small parks randomly scattered about the downtown and running/biking parks running along the rivers that dissect the city?
7. ENGLISH!! Now, before you start judging me–a student of the Chinese language–for listing my mother tongue as a Pro, allow me to explain. When I step up to a counter to buy a food item or knick knack, the shop clerk will always begin in English. I will always respond in Chinese. They seem to love this and will then continue in Chinese, usually saying that my Chinese is great (which it’s not) before I leave. So to anyone thinking about travelling to Taiwan, don’t worry too much about the language barrier! You can get by with English. If you don’t speak Chinese or English you might run into some issues.
8. CLIMATE!! I suppose I should have listed this with clean air, but they’re fairly different. I’m visiting Taiwan in mid-February but it feels like mid-October to me. It’s also been cloudy and windy the entire time I’ve been here, which I also love. Were I here in July, the climate might be on my list of cons.
9. STARBUCKS!! They’re everywhere. I’m a regular now at the one closest to me. I’ve missed my quad grande americano in the worst way.
10. LINES!! That’s right, lines. Queues. People in China seem to find forming lines a cumbersome task and so they choose not to. This is not the case in Taiwan at all. On the escalators in the subway, everyone waits and lines up along the right side if they aren’t walking up the escalator. This way, those who want to move quicker can walk past on the left-hand side. While waiting for their train, people form lines on the subway platform and patiently wait for the train to arrive. When it does, they stand to the side and allow room for those exiting the vehicle. It’s truly a beautiful sight to see.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ve uploaded more photos of the Memorial for you to see, along with some random ones I’ve taken in the city. Enjoy!
Hello all! 新年快乐！It is now the year of the Snake! I really have to be honest—I was let down by Taiwan’s celebration of the New Year. There were almost no fireworks that I could see, or hear. It’s very possible I was simply in the wrong place to see them, but I was let down nonetheless. I would recommend, therefore, those wishing to experience a Chinese New Year to go to mainland China.
Today we wandered around the city for a bit, along with visiting some famous places in Taipei. For lunch we stopped by the Modern Toilet restaurant. The food wasn’t outstanding, but let’s be honest—you go there for the experience. After that we went to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. It was pretty outstanding. The crowds weren’t terrible at all, particularly for this being a holiday in which many people seem to go sightseeing and such. It was a fairly exhausting day filled with much walking and photo-taking, my favorites included down below.
So far, I am absolutely loving Taipei. It’s not really as clean as Shanghai was, but it just seems much more…me. I can’t really describe it, but I just feel a sense of belonging here. I know I said the same for Shanghai, but this is true love, I think. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!