The Taiwan SelectionJuly 23, 2020 6:34 am 1 Comment
A recollection of my moments in Taiwan.
A bustling Asian metropolis that remixes Mainland China and Japan, with a twist: It’s full of good-natured, intelligent, helpful people. Nobody tries to sell you anything or take you anywhere. My first impression is illustrated by the orderly queue outside the airport and the effective, steady supply of buses. Here they require two different kinds of ID for SIM cards, rental cars etc., which was a first. Pleasantly surprised by the value for money at the **** hotel near Songshan, the second major station.
One of the must do things in Taipei is climb Elephant Mountain and check out the amazing city view. Beware though, it’s not an easy climb in such hot climate. But my favourite attraction was the sunset at Tamsui, a spectacular waterfront about an hour away. The city has great transport and a network of convenience stores that cater for all your needs, including my ticket out of the capital.
A few hours of train ride later, I experienced a non-Taipei city and loved it. Hualien’s people were less accustomed to foreigners and the hotel seemed more excited to welcome yours truly. I took a long walk downtown along the main boulevard and reached the coast to find my first Taiwanese night market, which is a revered main local attraction and for good reasons. It’s a place where people like to go out in the cooler nights and mingle, have some seriously yummy snacks, listen to live music and enjoy themselves.
For the next day, I planned to visit the nearby Taroko Gorge, but had no idea how. I went down to the bus station and was (not) surprised by how well tourism is organized. There is a day ticket for the bus to the mountains, with unlimited hop on hop off. The gorge is wonderful and thanks to the bus stops you can hike any length of the trail you like, from an hour to all day. My preferred hike was a trail carved on the side of the gorge. In the evening I discovered one of my favorite meals anywhere in the world: the famous xiao long bao, non-slippery dumplings with minced pork. A culinary epiphany.
On the train ride to Kaohsiung I encountered more Taiwanese kindness. As we circumvented the southern cape, the stranger sitting next to me recommended the lunchbox at the station we stopped at. Sensing my hesitation to leave the train, the young man ran out and bought a bento for me. That was awesome and totally in line with the people of Formosa.
As the second largest city on the island, Kaohsiung was busier and more sprawling than Hualien, but still a joy to walk around and explore, with a little help from the subway. Wondering what to do in the southern capital, I set out to find a beach, with mixed success. I travelled to the scenic coastal district of Sizihwan, where the beach was small, black and off limits for any beach activities, including swimming. There were resort-type facilities that looked closed or abandoned. Anyway, the walk there along the promenade was great and offered a panoramic view at the bay with a cute little island, the port and the distinctive tallest building in the distance.
On the way back I walked through a tunnel near a university and walked even more to the famous Love River, which presented its full splendor at dusk. The river, just like the city itself, is truly is a place to fall in love with.
Surprise! I had more amazing food in my last stop, the major middle-western city of Taichung. There, the helpful receptionist recommended this hungry traveller a visit to the Second Market. It is a maze of shops and restaurants offering delicious eats. The rest of the scorching day was spent in a walk in the downtown area and the famous Calligraphy Greenway, a long park dedicated to the arts.
At night I visited the beautiful Taichung Park with deafening cicadas and a traditional-looking building in a lake.Tags: taiwan
This post was written by rado