taipei

Travel time: Taiwan

A little while ago I went on a two-week holiday to Taiwan. My sister is doing an internship there and my parents and I went to go visit here. I managed to fit the two weeks within my lectures and classes at uni and we flew on a Monday afternoon from Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The total travel time was about 20 hours. We made a stop in Dubai where we had a four hour wait for our transfer flight to Taipei. It was around two o’clock there and there was nothing to do, but I couldn’t sleep. So I sat around like a zombie until we could board our next flight. Now, I am not afraid of flying, but I just can’t fall asleep as easy on a plane. I hadn’t eaten or drank very much either, but sometimes I don’t feel hungry or thirsty and forget I need to eat and drink until it’s too late and I start feeling a bit queasy. This in combination with being very tired will easily do me in. So during the second flight I had a panic attack. Yay. I barely managed to eat or drink anything, because I was feeling so sick and awful. A very nice steward pushed me to eat and drink just a little and thankfully it slowly started to fade. I was wrapped in two blankets and shivering, but I would not let this ruin my holiday.

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We arrived at Taipei airport around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and after going through customs and having my first stamp put in my brand new passport we went to meet my sister. My first impression of Taipei is that it was very crowded, very chaotic and loud. There were people everywhere, neon signs, flashing lights and stoplights all around and traffic rules seemed more like a suggestion than a rule. We went to our B&B and were greeted by the very nice and helpful owner and we got our first real meal in Taipei.

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We stayed in Taipei for two days and I quickly realised the city and its people weren’t as chaotic as I thought. Yes there were flashing lights and signs everywhere, and yes no one really cared about the traffic laws, but everyone knew what they were doing. The people in Taiwan are all very helpful and they know how to go about their day without bothering anyone. When you walk into a metro station (MRT station) there are lines that indicate where to wait, and everyone stands in them. When you get out of the metro there is a SINGLE file queue for the escalator, so that you can walk past if you are really in a hurry and no one will eat or drink in the MRT stations. Not even chew gum, or have a sip of water, because this isn’t allowed. And when we appeared lost, in no time there would be someone to help us get to where we were going, even if they didn’t have a clue where it was themselves.

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We went to the Taipei 101, one of the highest buildings in the world and the view of Taipei was absolutely breath-taking. You could see until the edges of the city, where the mountains divided the city. There are a lot of hidden treasures to be found in the city. There are temples hidden between buildings and little patches of green scattered around the blocks.

taipei

After our days in Taipei we travelled to Sun Moon lake, which is a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains. On our way to the next hotel we stopped at a bamboo forest. Here we saw monkeys! It was the first time I ever saw monkeys in the wild. We arrived at our hotel which looked out on a tea plantation. We went hiking on a trail in the area. The surroundings were beautiful. It gave me a bit of a mysterious otherworldly vibe, it was a bit misty and it was so quiet and peaceful.

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bamboebos

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The hotel we stayed at after this looked out on a tea plantation. Along the way we also travelled past several teaplantation and stopped to look at the workers.

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thee-dame

While in this area we went hiking on the most beautiful trail I’ve ever seen. It trailed along an abandoned traintrack. The surroundings absolutely stunned me to silence. It gave me a bit of a mysterious otherworldly vibe, it was a bit misty and it was so quiet and peaceful.

spoorbrug

The next stop was the Fo Guang Shan monastery. The monastery grounds are huge. There are multiple buildings and you can easily walk around there for a whole day. There is a gigantic golden Buddha statue, but sadly it was being repaired or something while we were there.

buddha

Along the way to our B&B we stopped in Meinong, where you were supposed to be able to buy handmade paper umbrella’s/parasols, but we couldn’t find it. Like at all. We searched and searched, but with everything being Chinese it was very difficult. We were about to give up and just move on when we stumbled on a temple. We decided to go in and it turns out you had to go through the temple, through a little garden and there it was. A little place where a woman was making the umbrella’s. My mum and me both bought an umbrella and the lady was very nice and tried to explain as much as she could about the art of umbrella making. Then we went on our way again.

paraplu

We travelled along the east coast on our way to the next hotel. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful roads in Taiwan. There are a lot of scenic areas and tourist attractions along this route and we saw monkeys again. We also passed the tropical cancer mark on this road.

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Our next adventure would be the Taroko gorge. In this gorge are a lot of things to see. We took two days to explore the gorge before moving on to our last stop before returning to Taipei.

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Also at the end of our day in the gorge, we went to eat at an aboriginal restaurant. They had a performance at the end of the night where, at one point, they picked people from the audience to join in. And me being tall, blond and European stood out and was off course invited to dance with the group. I was absolutely petrified, I don’t speak a word Chinese and they didn’t speak English that well. But in the end it was fun. And I promise you that this is the only picture of me smiling. The few that were taken before this point show me with a look of utter horror on my face.

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While staying at our B&B we went to pick up my sister from the train station, because she had worked during the week and would be joining us again for the weekend. We went to a hot spring the next day. Holy shizzles was that water hot. But luckily you could mix it with cold water and then it was pure heaven.

The next day we went on our way back to Taipei. We first travelled to Juifen, where we went to one of the smallest streets I have ever seen. And, man, was it crowded. There were all these little shops and people stopping and buying things. And people bumping into you and you bumping in to other people. I would understand people starting to feel claustrophobic in such a street. Then we went back to Taipei. That night we went out to dinner with my sister’s host family. They took us to one of the best Dumpling restaurants in the world and it was delicious.

Our last day was spent wandering through the old part of Taipei: Banka. It was a really relaxed day strolling through the streets. But all good things come to an end right? That night we had to say goodbye to my sister again and go home. But it was one of the best experiences of my life!

What has been your best travel experience so far? And where do you still want to go? Let me know in the comments!

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