Plan for the first morning: get out of Taipei. Unfortunately, due to increased traffic from CNY travellers, the next available train out of Taipei was at 6:30pm. Suddenly, it was desirable to sight see around Taipei. We stored our items in a locker at the train station (this fact plays an important part later in the story of Day Two). En route to the first landmark, we serendipitously crossed a road with Juno, a friend from the hostel. Another Christmas Miracle! She joined us to see Taipei 101, the 2nd tallest building IN THE WORLD! Or something like that. It is tall: It is possible to pay a high-sum for the high-speed elevator to near-the-top for a magnificent view of the city. However, the combination of Taipei's haziness and our thriftiness pointed us away from the observation deck and toward a photo op with this nearly accurate representation: Juno lives in Seoul and writes articles about travelling (in English) on traveldudes--found over there to the right. Plans for visiting HK and Seoul are already in progress! We all went out in search of lunch--an epic quest when many establishments are closed for the holiday. Ultimately, we found more noodles: But not without stopping by a kindly street vendor for some mysterious and glutinous rice thing:
The Taiwanese are a far more gregarious people than Hong Kongers. Of course, this impression is formed mostly by the handsome man on the train who leaned over to me and whispered, "beautiful". We were offered unsolicited help; strangers wished good health on us for the new year; some people actually smiled. It was like a Chinese Midwest. We even saw a HarvestStore silo in the south.
After lunch, we visited the Longshan Temple, the most famous one in Taipei:
Back at the train station, we could not find the lockers in which we had stored our luggage. It is a large and complicated station, with many levels, exits, and distractions such as a Cold Stone Creamery. When it grew desperately late, we presented the keys to various people and asked, "NAR?!" and looked confused. It worked, as Nar always does. We followed a circuitous path through a parking lot, found the missing lockers, collected our things, and located the High Speed Rail train 15 minutes before departure.
Late that night, we arrived in Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan, checked into a shady hotel, and met our friendly Canadian neighbors, Hugh and Susan. They showed off the sketchiness of their room, including the naked mermaid stained glass window, which looks into the shower:
As fun as naked stained glass mermaids are, we parted ways with our new Canadian friends, to find food again. At 11pm on Chinese New Year's Eve is a terrible time to look for food in an ancient Taiwanese city. Just as we were beginning to lose hope, we miraculously glanced down an alley and found our grail: Hud La Voos. When we walked in, I almost apologized for interrupting a family gathering. We were quickly welcomed and ushered to the upstairs area. The pub is owned and run by members of an aboriginal Taiwanese tribe. They serve traditional food (including crickets, which unfortunately, were out of stock) and original artwork covers the walls:
We also had the good fortune to meet Lief, whose stunning blog can be found to the right. Lief is really cool, and is therefore from Canada. With 20 years living in Taiwan, he was incredibly helpful to guide our plan and give us useful information. He and his wife own Hud La Voos; if you are ever in Tainan, I cannot recommend this place highly enough! Exclamation! Three lovely ladies performed a traditional dance, then encouraged us to dance with them. Post dancing, a bit sweaty: Then of course, it was time to limbo.
It wasn't a competition, but I won in terms of style and they gave me a free drink! (it was orange juice, dad)
Also, I enjoyed the privacy of the urinal, which I did not use: We danced into the night, then walked back to our shady hotel where we had to open the windows, despite the coldness, in order to air out the unpleasant and mysterious odor. Day Three brings many more surprises, twists, and turns...and some things of which The Mother would not approve, so don't miss it.
Stop answering emails and truly relax
2 months ago