It still surprises me that even though Taiwan is just 2 hours away from Manila, it was my first time to be here this year. I mean, I've heard a lot of good stuff about this small country, but I never managed to step foot on it. I didn't set any expectations when I arrived though, so every experience was a pleasure indeed.
I landed in Taipei in the evening via Cebu Pacific, as usual, unprepared. I was carrying only a backpack even though I was to stay for 4 days. I took a bus from the airport to the central station, where I would take the metro to my hostel.
The Metro was quite confusing at first, and probably because I was more accustomed to the MRT in HK. I was expecting the same. It was more difficult to find your way, but I managed to determine what station I would disembark.
There are a lot of hostel choices in Taipei, but most were fully booked when I arrived. Good thing I was able to find a spot at the Chocolate Box Backpackers Inn, located near the ShiDa University and its popular night market. The locale is also very interesting, with several cafes and shops along small alleyways.
I was getting really hungry, so I headed straight to one of Taipei's best draws - the night markets. The closest one from my hostel is Shida Night Market. This one has a lot of trendy stores, since the area is mostly visited by student from nearby universities. Of course, food is also abundant.
Night markets in Taiwan are probably the best in the world. Hence, I will dedicate an entire entry just for it. I ended up in these markets every night, that I didn't eat in restaurants anymore.
Taipei 101 is no doubt the most famous landmark in the country. Being the 2nd tallest building in the world, I am amazed that Taiwan is courageous enough to build a mega skyscraper considering that the country gets more earthquakes than ours. So a trip to the viewing deck of Taipei 101 was a must.
Going up was quick, and an experience in itself. I'm not a fan of view decks, so I tried to make this trip quick as well. The view from above the 101 was like being in an airplane already. All the other buildings looked miniature versions already. I was definitely on top of the world.
I wasn't really able to go around Taipei, since my itinerary had trips out in the countryside. I only arrived in the late afternoon, hence, I would visit night markets only. On my last day in Taiwan, I managed to meet up with a friend and walk around the city more.
This is the Chang Kai Shek memorial, with its beautiful landscaped gardens. There was even a lake beside it. It was expansive so I was too lazy to scour the entire place.
We continued going around and passed by some cafes and more street food stalls. One of the best street food I tasted was this roti wrap filled with egg, vegetables and pork. I absolutely loved it (to think this was my 3rd meal in 3 hours).
I passed by more shops and restaurants in the main street. It was such a nice experience just walking around the streets of Taipei. I actually had more fun here than in Hong Kong. The thing about Taipei is that the atmosphere is so relaxed, and yet, very alive and vibrant. These are just two things that are so hard to combine.
So with that, I begin my entries on Taiwan, my surprise destination of the year so far. The trip includes a day tour of the Taroko Gorge and a quick one to Yehliou. It's definitely more fun in Taiwan!