02.15.07

Exploring Taipei – 14. 2. 2007

Posted in Taipei at 18:37

Everything looks quite different at daytime. Where there were empty streets and barred shutters the evening before, life was pulsating. I did not recognize the street I was walking the evening before. Just next to the hostel are many small computer shops (photo) and for the first time I also saw the mass of the most important means of transportation: the scooter. On every red traffic light they are queuing in dozens, making the change to green light feel like the start of a motorcycle race.

After visiting the Sun Yat-Sen (S.Y.S.) memorial hall (photo) and the surrounding park, a very peaceful place in this active town, I wanted to go to a nearby hill to watch the dimension of this city. Unfortunately the air was not that clear so I decided to visit the Taipei 101 the day after. Anyway, I read in guide book that I can ride up this hill by bus. But the problem here is to find the bus stop. After observing some buses I found out how they look like. They are only indicated by small yellow signs written in Chinese. Fortunately I did new the bus number (there are over 300 bus lines!). The place where the bus ended somehow did not promise a good city view. Just a huge high school area. I was sure to be at the right place and so I was asking some guys which were practicing break dance if they can explain the way to me. The guide book mentioned a park at the place where the school was. But also the guys could not help me out but were willing to find this SiShouShan park with me. Finally we even found the entrance to this park which was named there as YongChunGang park. Anyway, it was the place I was looking for. And after a half-hour hike we had a great view to the city (photo) especially to the Taipei 101. Also these guys did not want to miss the chance to give me their phone numbers and e-mail addresses pointing out that they will help me whenever I have a problem here. I already knew that Taiwanese people are friendly but I never expected it like this. Their tourism slogan “Taiwan – Touch your heart” fully makes sense.

What attracted my attention while walking through the streets, is the kind how they are built. Next to the street there is a stripe to park your scooter (they are really everywhere), followed by a stripe for cyclists (which are not too often seen) and then there is a roofed sidewalk (photo) in front of the shops. It remembers me very much to our “Lauben” (photo) we have in the old town in Bern. I often read that they proudly say that the “Lauben” build the longest roofed shopping street (several kilometers). But when I see this here, I have to say that they are wrong. In Taipei they have dozens of kilometers of roofed shopping streets.

My local friend was already calling me again for eating dinner and wanted to show a special Chinese New Year night market to me. We were heading against DiHua night market. Before we entered the fray we braced ourselves in a popular small restaurant. Normally this would not be the place were I would go to eat. It was not looking very specially from outside. When ordering the chief pointed out lovely that he can speak English. We then ate an oister dish (photo) which is apparently very famous in Feng Yuan, the place I am going to stay in a few days. For dessert I tried some of the unknown but very delicious fruits on a market stand (photo). Alright, now I was ready. After passing some already interesting shops and restaurants (photo) the people were suddenly crowding round us. In a narrow lane there were dozens of shops and stands selling goods for the Chinese New Year festival. First of all, all kind of food. Different sweets (photo, photo), seafood, meat, sausages, dried mushrooms and vegetables, preserved fruits, tea and of course also a lot of decoration stuff (photo). The smells were overwhelming and my friend gave her best to explain as much as possible to me. Of course it is very difficult to describe tastes but she did not had to because of most of the food there were small bits to try.

In the middle of this busy market there was suddenly a place of calm. A temple: the XiaHai ChengHuangMiao. A lot of single people go there to worship to the god XiaHai which should help them finding a good partner for living or even a husband (photo).

02.14.07

Pictures…

Posted in Taipei at 21:02

I know, you are all waiting to see some pictures from Taiwan. Do not worry. I took some. But I could not decide yet how I should make them available for you. So be patient. I think as soon as I am in Taichung (after February 16) where I will stay for a longer time, I will put them online…

Update:
OK, I did it. I really opened a flickr-account. So you already can see a small choice of pictures. Go ahead here.

First evening in Taipei – 13. 2. 2007

Posted in Taipei at 20:54

After I arrived in my accomodation for the next few days the World Scholar House, which is definitely a big name for this place, I only had a quick shower before my friend started to show me around in Taipei City.

The first thing we did is having dinner. After this long travel and bad airplane food, I was quite hungry. Time to get introduced into Taiwanese eating. I specially write Taiwanese here because Taiwanese food should not be confused under any circumstance with Chinese food. Food is one of the most important thing for Taiwanese people and you see it as soon you are eating with Taiwanese people or talking with them about food. But for me not only Taiwanese food was new but also Asian eating culture at all. You enter one of the wide spread mostly quite small restaurants. When you are not alone you often order different meals to share with each other. You have to order them by form (which of course is only in Chinese and not always has numbers and pictures of the meal) or directly from the chief. You mostly can choose from 10 to 15 meals. What you do not order in this smaller restaurants are drinks. Sometimes you see a fridge with some cokes inside but you do not see Taiwanese people eating and drinking at the same time. For having a drink after the meal you can go into a tea house or coffee shop. Or you can let you mix your own drink at a street shop. Running gag here: Milk with kind of gum candy balls which you ingest through a straw.

With full stomach I was introduced into the Taipei public traffic. It is very modern system mainly consisting of Mass Rapid Transport (local name for subway) (photo) and a dense bus line net. Like this it is very easy to travel around in the city. All the information you need is also available in English. I have to enjoy it because it will not stay like this in the rest of Taiwan.

After my friend left, I still was not tired. I wanted to drink a Taiwanese beer and therefore I had to find a bar. This is not that simple like you maybe think. Bar culture is not really wide spread here. After walking into several directions I finally found a big blinking beer bottle on the sidewalk pointing to the “Taiwan Beer Bar”. I did not sit there alone for 5 minutes a 31 year old engineer came to tell me that Taiwan Beer is not really the brand to prefer. As he learned that I am not a language student and that I am the first evening in Taipei, he introduced me to his friends and invented me to his table. After discussing for 2 hours the bar was closing and we had to look for an alternative. Fortunately he did knew something and so we could continue our talk. After another few hours we were hungry again and of course we found a place, we are in Taiwan, where we took a traditional Chinese breakfast. Egg in a pie. Eventually it was time to sleep. The guy gave me his number and asked me to call him whenever I have a problem here. He even gave me some money because I was not sure if there was still enough left to go home. After a short taxi ride I safely arrived at the hostel. Wow, what first day.

Journey

Posted in Taipei at 20:16

Journeys are normally quite boring. A lot of waiting… In the airport, in the plane… all the thoughts are already in holiday. At least in my case it was like this. Therefore nothing special to say except that we made a stopover in Bankok. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport was often in the media during the last weeks because it was built to become southeast Asia’s leading air hub but suffers of many design and quality flaws. Some runways cannot be used because they are already broken and it was already in discussion to open the Don Muang old airport again. But I could not experience any inconsistencies myself. The only negativ point there was me in warm winter clothes from rainy Switzerland and sticky 30 degrees of air temperature.

My entry in Taiwan was swift and without any problems. And soon after I arrived, a local friend I met before in England, did pick me up at the airport arrival hall. That’s a good start for this holiday.

02.12.07

Taipei, I’m coming…

Posted in Taipei at 12:22

Like most of you know I’m leaving to Taipei (Taiwan) today. I’m going to stay in this region for one month. Because I expect some international readers I will write in English now. I’m trying to write as often as possible from my experiences in Asia and also provide you some pictures.

I’m very looking forward to this travel. Have to leave all my friends here but I will be very welcomed by the friends in Taiwan. Therefore I shouldn’t miss the plane and leave now….

CU everybody