These are the 32 things I loved about Taipei – I spent the time between Christmas and New Years in Taipei with my fiance, Ryosuke.
(This is probably going to be my last Taipei-related post)
- Being able to eat Bubble Tea three to four times a day without being judged or paying a fortune. At around 20 – 30 Taiwanese dollars (0.60 – 1.00 US$) a cup, bubble tea was cheap, delicious, and widely available.
One of the first days in Taiwan, after spending a couple hours digging through some stalls at a backwater wholesale market, we took a break at a nearby “café.” And by “café,” I mean a local place that served drinks. After we ordered, instead of drinking his tea like a normal person, my fiancé (Ryosuke) spent the next couple minutes watching people order and trying to calculate how much money the small Mom and Pop drink stand was making an hour. His conclusion: “How are they making a living? It’s too cheap!”
I like cheap.
- These chicken.
I confess, I never actually ate one, but when Ryosuke saw them, he jumped a foot in the air. No joke. And then he hid behind me.This would have been amusing if it was a one-time occurrence. However, this is Taiwan. In the five days we were there, we saw close to six or seven of these. Each reaction was funnier than the last.
- The toilets. No joke. I wrote an entire post about it earlier. And you know what? We’re not going to judge me for it, ok?
- I finally got to see the infamous Hello Kitty Airline at the Taipei airport. It was every bit as amazing as I had imagined it would be.
- The gorgeous temples all around the city.
- Going through a complicated, multi-step process in order to get my fortune told at the temple we visited.
And after going through all that work… it was still a bad fortune.
This just hasn’t been a good year for me, fortune-wise.
- The Maternity charms inside a temple we visited. Not only were they aesthetically gorgeous, but they symbolized something so much more.
When I first stepped into the room, after wandering up to the second floor of a re-constructed temple we found, I felt the tension in the room. A long, wooden table sat in the center of the room, burdened with fruit, food, charms, and fake, yellow, crinkled money that is burned for your ancestors. On either side of the temple were two enormous columns that reached to the ceiling filled with thousands of small, golden compartments.
Each compartment held the name of a woman who was praying for a child and all around the room, women were praying fervently, hands clasped and head bowed. It was beautiful.
- The public transportation system in Taipei. I also wrote a post about that earlier.
- The heat. It was right after Christmas, and in the 70’s every day. I’m sure the summer must be awful, but compared to the cold Tokyo weather, the winter weather was glorious.
- The fact that most signs were not only in Chinese, but also sometimes in Japanese and English. That was pretty cool.
- I could vaguely understand what most signs said, even if they weren’t in Japanese or English. Japanese has three alphabets, one of which is shares with Chinese. I can read about 600 of those characters, which meant I could at least vaguely understand what a sign said (even if I couldn’t technically “read” it).
- Staying with my Auntie M’s best friend, Sue. She showed us around the city, helped us figure out public transportation, and tried her best to answer all the (probably annoying) questions I asked.
- Having several “local” show us around the city. Neither Ryosuke nor I speak Chinese and, looking back, we were rather ill-equipped for the journey.
- Fried squid.
- The sea-side city of Dansui.
- The giant shoes in Fort San Domingo (in Dansui). I finally found shoes in Asia that fit me.
- Watching the sun set over the mountain in Dansui.
- The fact that Sue and her husband partially owned a bar. I’ve never met someone who actually owned a bar before. Before we went to Taiwan, Ryosuke and I’s dream was to own a bar. Now we’ve realized how hard that actually is… and have decided to start some sort of business together instead.
- Being able to get anywhere in a taxi for incredibly cheap. It reminded me of Ghana. I loved it.
- The fact that the two-our Thai oil massage I got cost less than 40 US$. Best money I ever spent.
- Taiwanese food, in general. I’m not quite sure why this wasn’t higher on the list. Nonetheless, I loved all the food I ate (except for stinky tofu).
- How cheap all the food (and clothes) were.
- The Night Market(s). These are a must-see if you’re going to Taipei. They had everything there – including a Captain America dog costume that Ryosuke just HAD to buy (even though we don’t actually own a dog).
- This sign. Can you read it? Basically all your gum, soda, and food is crying that you left it outside the train, because you’re not allowed to eat/drink on the train.
It’s cute. Believe me.
- The fact that no matter how many times I pointed to the sign, Ryosuke still drank from his water bottle on the train.
- The bathroom waiting signs. I talked about them earlier here. I saw these at some train stations. They tell you how many stalls are occupied, what kind of stalls are available, and how long your “estimated” wait time would be, if you had to go to the bathroom.
- This sign. Since we’re on the topic of signs… this was was very close to our friend Sue’s house. I passed it every day by taxi (or on foot) and it made me crack up every time.
- The Red-Light countdown. It told the driver (and passengers) how much time was left on their red light… which was handy, until you barely missed the green light, and the red-light countdown started at 300 seconds. Then it was pretty annoying…
- Taipei 101. It is the tallest building in Taipei – 101 stories tall with a five (?) story basement. The first couple floors are an enormous, incredibly expensive shopping center.
I saw scarves that still had the American price tag of 5$, covered by a sticker asking for 450 NT (Taiwanese dollars), which equals around 15 US$. It was a little weird.
The building was cool, though.
- The fact that everyone used motor scooters or motorcycles to get around.
- The wildlife and scenery.
- Taiwanese patriotism.
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