A Wonderful City

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Royal Taipei Inn

Flag of Taiwan  , Taipei,
Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taipei....what a beautiful place!! We hopped on an early morning train....after stopping at the street vendor outside our house to buy the BEST authentic green onion cake around....and headed on an adventure to Taipei....no idea where we will stay, and only our day pack as luggage! Mmmm...did I mention the awesome green onion cake??!! You can even have an egg added to it, slather it in hot sauce, and roll it up to eat!!....the best breakfast ever!!

So, like I was saying...we hopped on an early morning train for our 2.5 hour train ride to Taipei. As soon as we arrived, we hit up the first bookstore we came across....bought some more Chinese books, and headed towards Taipei 101. If you like Gucci, Louis Vutton, Coach....or any of that sort...you should consider a shopping holiday to Taipei city! The Taipei 101 mall consists of every brand name....expensive brand names...not my favorite...The North Face...lol. We were too cheap to pay for lunch at one of the restaurants in the mall, so we had Hagen Daaz for lunch!! Not that I minded...lol. It was the most expensive ice cream I have ever eaten! I think it was almost $15 for two ice creams!~ yup...we double checked our passports....for a minute, we thought we were in Europe or something!

A 30 second elevator ride (1010 meters/minute!!) brought us to the 89th floor of Taipei 101! An amazing view of the city! The 90th floor was the outside observation deck (I'm barely tall enough to see over the barriers) and the 88th floor was where we viewed the wind damper and learned about the construction of the building....yes, of course....Jay was inspecting each and every weld! lol.

Downtown Taipei is bustling with all sorts of people and performers. The fringe festival was on (not quite the same as ours at home....but we did see a couple acts.) The first one was an older man (in his 60's maybe) dancing and singing in the street...oh...did I mention he was only wearing a cloth strap...yup...you pictured it right! We saw butt crack and man jewels....gross. I don't think he was part of the fringe performers...lol. A little further down the block was an unbelievable performer! I think he was magic...you could see every muscle he had (in a definite good way...lol). He did some form of martial arts or Chinese acrobatics...with a large ring with about a 6 ft diameter...maybe a little more. This guy would twirl himself in the ring, roll around upside down, fly sideways...like he was in a big bubble! He was a one man Cirque du Soleil~. Fantastic. I was stunned with his ability...the coolest act we have ever witnessed!!

After a few miles of walking, we finally decided to splurge and get a nice hotel for the night...all of the hotel prices include breakfast....so we thought this was fantastic!!!...until the next morning when we slept too late and missed the breakfast! Doh!..lol. Our hotel was right above one of the main streets...we paid $2700nt for the night...so about $80 CAD I think. It was a great location. We wandered around and found a Beer Festival...of all things. They gave us free beer and we didn't hesitate to accept! Nothing better than an ice cold beer on the streets of Taipei! After enjoying our beer...and closing down the festival (really early...around 11pm), we headed to a HUGE night market. We ate some good food, enjoyed the sights (not always the smells), and ate some more good food! lol.

One thing that is the same in all large cities in Asia is the poverty and mutilation of some of the street beggars you see....it's really hard to overcome the sights and the drastic desperation of some of these people. There was only one beggar there that we saw that night...but it really bothers Jay. He sits on his knees and bows forward, kissing the ground, over and over again....for hours! And he does it so fast, probably at least 50 times a minute...and he is missing a hand....so sad....and slightly disturbing.

In the morning, or early afternoon...whatever you want to call it...lol, we made our way over to the Taipei Zoo!! Asia's largest zoo....and by far the nicest! In our opinion, the Calgary Zoo has nothing on the Taipei Zoo! It's built in a mountain, right through the rainforest....so natural. In 4 hours, we only made it through one quarter of the zoo...but it only cost us $1 CAD each to get in!!! Phew!...good thing we got that student discount!!...otherwise we would have paid $2 each...lol.

Right beside the Taipei zoo is the Maokong Gondola (4030 meters long!!...google it). We took it right to the top of the mountain.,.where there is a little village, a ton of hiking trails, some temples, and lots of food! We made it for the sunset and enjoyed a hot fruit tea (with real fruit) as we peered over the edge of the mountain to enjoy our first Taiwan sunset. The Gondola ride was phenomenal...the quietest and smoothest ride I have ever been on....so relaxing and the views of Taipei were indescribable.

We made it back down, caught a train home (and bought some donuts to take with us) and arrived back in Hualien at 1:30am. We caught a race car home, passed our turn, and ended up walking in the dark for two blocks back...lol.

Our classes are in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to sleep, then do our homework in the morning...they definitely like to assign homework!!
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