So what I have I seen so far in Taipei?

A quick summary, more details to follow

Day 1 (Sat):

  • Area around Taipei Main Station
  • Ximen (hip youth hotspot, sort of like Tokyo)
  • Longshan Temple
  • Huaxi St Night Market

Day 2 (Sun):

  • Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (founder of Taiwan)
  • Taipei 101 (2nd tallest building in world)
  • Core Pacific City (quick peek – it’s a mall that looks a little like the Death Star from Star Wars, i.e. what was the architect smoking?)
  • Raohe St Night Market
  • Rainbow Bridge

Day 3 (Mon):

  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (big statue of another Taiwan founder)
  • Da’an Park (likened to Central Park but smaller and somewhat disappointing)
  • Rode a gondola up into the mountains at the south end of town (also reachable by metro!)
  • Hiked a paved trail with a very long set of stairs straight up the hill to a nice lookout (unlike the crowds at the gondola top station, I only saw 6 people at the top of the mountain), and did a bit of a hike through unpaved narrow paths in the forest up there
  • Had a 40-minute foot/leg massage (NT$400=US$14) – note I didn’t say I “enjoyed” it because it was downright painful during it (I wanted to cry uncle a few times but didn’t!) though I did feel better afterwards (to be ruined by the next day’s walking of course)

Day 4 (Tue) – see attached photos

  • Danshui aka Tamsui (confusing name change on the train station!) – a fishing port located on the estuary (i.e. just about on the Taiwan Strait but still reachable by metro)
  • Beitou Public Hot Springs – natural hot springs for under US$2 (I spent 1.5 hours), within a 5 minute walk from a metro station!
  • Confucius Temple (what, he lived around 550 BC, are you kidding me?)
  • Baoan Temple (also got to see a ceremony to help protect the island from harsh water (typhoon, mudslides etc.))
  • Shilin Night Market – the king of them in Taipei (disappointing food though)

Overview thoughts on Taipei

Having wandered around for 3 days now, I must say that I am enjoying Taipei, with its mix of modern and old.
After doing laundry last night, and still not being adjusted to the 12 hour timezone change, here are some thoughts:


  • English on many signs (esp in metro (subway)) and a little spoken by many people
  • Great modern metro (opened in 1999) which apparently has improved air quality significantly, as well as making travel around the city and suburbs a breeze
  • Technology
  • Cheap tasty (maybe not so healthy) food
  • Weird food (cola flavored Mentos anyone?)
  • Funny/interesting signs
  • Polite, orderly conduct
  • Scooters taken into consideration on roads (and parking)
  • A surprising amount of greenery – mountains right next to the city (or should I say, the city expanded right to the neighbouring mountains)
  • Few westerners – at big tourist sites, I see maybe a dozen foreigners; otherwise, I see less than a dozen a day around town
  • Taipei 101 – 2nd tallest building in world, designed to look like bamboo


  • Sudden wafts of sewer smell (I noticed it frequently the first day, but it hasn’t hit me as frequently the past 2 days – maybe it depends on the area)
  • Humidity (as Taipei isn’t on the coast, you don’t get a refreshing breeze nor can you just hop in for a swim)
  • Hard to find cheap healthy food
  • Too many rules (can’t take my coffee on the metro!)
  • Crowded

Many of the points above could use their own post and accompanying photos, more to come…

Taipei airport notes

–          Easy immigration (fast moving non-citizen line) and customs (just walked through “nothing to declare line”
–          Used an ATM with Plus symbol to withdraw cash (New Taiwan Dollars)
–          Took an airport express bus to downtown (not a regular public bus) which took about an hour to the main train station. It felt like the bus had a speed limiter on it, as most of the distance was on a highway but he was going slowly in the right lane.
–          The bus put numbers on the luggage which had to match your claim stub when leaving the bus (a little security is a good thing!)
–          My hostel was only 5 minutes walk from the train/bus/subway station

Some flight notes (to Taipei via Tokyo)

Some flight notes (all United Airlines):

On 1 hour YYZ-ORD flight
–          I did receive a status upgrade on the short YYZ-ORD flight, woohoo!

On 12 hour ORD-NRT flight:
–          Having Economy Plus seats on the Boeing 777 flights made it bearable (an extra 5” legroom vs regular economy). Surprisingly, ½ the plane’s economy section was Economy Plus (domestically it’s ¼ – 1/3 of the plane)
–          Woman next to me had Pepto Bismol and immediately asked flight attendant for an air sickness bag, which luckily she didn’t use (though she did manage to spill a cup of water on my socked foot
–          I watched 3 movies on seatback entertainment system (choice of 7 free movies and a handful of TV shows; I didn’t do the $10 premium package that gave some more choices and games) – X-Men First Class (fun entertainment), Bridesmaids (some funny moments) and something else escaping me at the moment (update: it was Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides)
–          I managed to snooze a little (fee red wine with meal helped!)
–          Received a meal, a snack and a meal
–          Flight was very full – I only saw a few empty seats
–          2 regular power outlets

On 3 hour NRT-TPE flight:
–          Similar B777 plane, but less crowded (at least in Economy Plus)
–          Received another meal
–          Was able to sleep a little more
–          Different movie choices – this time I watched the animated movie Rio (so-so)

Made it to Taipei

I’ve checked in and am relaxing with AC in my small private room with own bath and cable TV and working wi-fi signal, in a Mexican-run hostel, downtown (about $35/night). No window though…

It’s 28 C here at this hour, which is the low for the day…

After a delay out of Toronto due to mechanical, then a delay in Chicago due to incoming airplane being late (good thing or I would have missed it, with no later flight the same day), a 12 hour flight to Tokyo, an easy connection (only a security checkpoint, no immigration) to the next flight to Taipei (3.5 hour flight time).

26 hours door to door.

It’s GMT+8 here in Taiwan (i.e. exactly 12 hours ahead of US/Canada Eastern Daylight Time)

Haven’t really looked at my guidebook yet, oops…