Monday, February 4, 2013

Taipei 101

Our trip to Taipei would not be complete without visiting Taipei 101, once the world's tallest building and still the world's tallest building which looks a bit like bamboo. Taipei isn't as skyscraper-clogged as other big cities so 101 stands out like a sore thumb and you can see it from (almost) anywhere in the city. Here's the view from our hotel room:

We took the subway as close as possible and then a free shuttle bus to the base, walked around a bit, visited the SUPER SLICK mall right next door and didn't go up. It's about $25 NZD to take a super fast elevator to the top and look around, but Tom's scared of heights and I'm cheap so we literally took a hike.

About 15 minutes walk from Taipei 101 to the base of Elephant Mountain, one of four (I think) animal-themed mountains around Taipei which are popular hiking trails. The trail to the top is relatively short and takes 15 - 30 minutes depending on your fitness level. Guess how long it took me! It's not so much a trail as a set of never ending steps that go on forever and help you lose your will to live. Nevertheless the view from the top is AWESOME and FREE, two of my favourite things!

We chilled out at the top eating dried mango and trying to take a picture of ourselves but we're both terrible at it, so here's the best one:

We headed back down the hill and saw this awesome dog on the way down. Judging by the sticker next to his hidey-hole it's a popular hangout and stare at the hikers spot.

Related - I have never seen as many pet dogs as I have in Taiwan. So many people would carry their tiny dogs through food markets, up hills, around shopping malls... everywhere. Korea's comparatively pet-free and I really miss being able to interact with animals on a daily basis, and Taiwan helped me out in this regard. Neat.

We got back to Taipei 101 with slightly shaky legs and took this obligatory photo:

We attempted to take the same free shuttle back to the train station, and ended up on a tiki-tour through random suburbs which had a lot of temples for some reason. Too afraid to disembark randomly, we waited a good half hour until the bus came to a different subway station and we got off. Fortunately we weren't horrifically lost, it just took a little longer to get back to Taipei Main Station and on a train going to Keelung. 

Keelung is a port town about an hour out of Taipei, and we went for it's night market which is meant to be the best in Taiwan. It was absolutely pouring down the whole time we were there, but the food is really good. Tom tried Oyster pancake and we had some incredible pork buns. Nom.

And that was pretty much that. Our 9 days in Taipei were enjoyable, but as you may have guessed it wasn't the greatest holiday - Taiwan is geographically very similar to New Zealand, and it's cities are very similar to Korea so it wasn't the comfort-zone-expanding holiday I'd hoped for. If we weren't from New Zealand and if we hadn't travelled through Southeast Asia and if we didn't live in Korea I think I would have been more enthused. The food was excellent though. 

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