Made in Taiwan, Part 3

Two reindeers

Two reindeers

Chirp chirp my little friends,

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 and 2 of my Taiwan series as much as I did writing them. I also love taking pictures, and you might not realize it but I use no camera but my Nokia mobile phone to take pictures. The blog pics will take you to our trips and hopefully give you the slightest idea of what is it like in the countries that we travel to. Although in my opinion the pictures will never give out what the eyes can see.

Inside a temple

Inside a temple

Before we returned to Hualien we had made a brief visit to Taipei for few days. Taipei’s weather wasn’t that good either but at least we were in the city and there’s always a place to hide from the worst showers. Again we made a great choice by staying next to the main railway station. You don’t really need to go any further in search of good hotels. Taipei is full of night markets, shopping possibilities and temples but we didn’t feel like there’s so much to see in on top of them. Taipei does have the former tallest building of Asia, Taipei 101, with 509m, but for more sights you defs have to leave the centre and do day trips to the surrounding areas. Probably one of the must see areas in the city centre is Ximen, the so called youth district. It gets packed upon nightfall, just like the numerous night markets.

@Taipei

@Taipei

The hotels in Taipei (at least the ones we stayed at) did not offer any breakfast so we had to look for a place to have some. That turned out to be a challenge. The cafes open very late in the morning. We were saved by the railway station though. Speaking of the station, I think it’s one of the most complex railway stations I’ve been to. If it wasn’t for Raffi I could not have found my way there – such a labyrinth.

Decorative temple

Decorative temple

Grand Taipei

Grand Taipei

Our first day trip was to Tamsui and Bali District north of the city. We walked a bit, saw some temples and a fortress, took a ferry across the river mouth, nothing major. Although we reserved quite many days to explore Taipei’s surroundings the time flew and we had to decide which day trips to make. One of the places I was expecting to see (ever since the American Bachelorette season X) was Pingxi Rail line. Pingxi rail runs through small towns, each town having some special character which it’s known of. Since the plan was to combine places of interest we only saw the cat town Houtong, walked to the next one in the scorching sun to notice that we might not have time to do any hiking after all, and then hurried into Pingxi which is famous for its lanterns and lantern festival. Pingxi was okay but I suppose the ideal would’ve been to spend a night and send a lantern up in the sky in the evening under the dark sky and blinking stars. The Pingxi rail line is rather cute though but oh so touristy and crowded. We got great seats on our way back from Pingxi to Sandiaoling and could see the jungle branches curving on top of the rail line, and the tiny river curving beneath the cliff and the rail. Very lovely indeed. We also made “friends” (yet again) on the train. A couple from Singapore chatted with us (it must’ve been one of Raffi’s sports apparel that initiated it) and we continued with them to Jiufen.

Aahm.. so where is what?

Aahm.. so where is what?

Rock n roll Taiwan style

Rock n roll Taiwan style

Speaking of rail lines. It is unpleasantly hard to coordinate the train rides to the sights outside the city. Somehow the timetables were difficult to read and the train schedules did not match well. But we managed to get to Jiufen too. Jiufen was something new. It’s a tourist attraction town in the mountains, in the outskirts of Taipei. How would I describe it.. it has narrow alleys surrounded by stalls of different sorts lit by lanterns in the night. I think it has some old time charm that appealed to me. The views from the village top are amazing. We happened to be there at the sunset and I got pretty darn good shots from up there.

Crossover to Bali

Crossover to Bali

Our two other day trips to Maokong and to Wulai weren’t as successful. I didn’t find Maokong that special, although the 45minute gondola ride was fun. You can do hiking on the mountain road and some shopping at the stalls, and visit tea houses. Wulai on the other hand had suffered from some serious floods some time back and we could not enter the road to the waterfalls, and it was raining quite some at the time, too.

At Longshan Temple District and airplane highway

At Longshan Temple District and airplane highway

Kittycats

Kittycats

So to recap Taiwan. It is one of the friendliest and coolest countries I have ever been to. As a tourist you have good times. The hotels and toilets are clean and there are toilets everywhere (yay for us girls!).  I must say people in Taiwan are generally trustworthy and it feels really safe there too. I mean they don’t always lock their scooters, they leave their phones or laptops on the table while using the bathroom etc. Even in the shadiest of the railway stations it never felt unsafe. One particular sticking memory from Taiwan are their garbage trucks. 😀 They’re like the Finnish ice cream trucks that have their own theme tune for people to recognize that their coming. Hilarious. Another thing to mention is the sense of fashion of Taiwanese. Fjällräven, the old Swedish company producing rucksacks is super popular here. Although, I have the feeling the products are mostly Made in China.. 😉 But Fjällräven is back on the world map again after 25-30years. Minions are big too, all Disney figures and Hello Kitty, naturally. Shopping in Taiwan is superb, although at some point it feels like a huge horn of plenty. 😛 If I have to think of something negative to say, then it’s the amount of sugar used in food and drinks and the paper thin walls in many of the hotels. 🙂

508 metres of steel and glass

508 metres of steel and glass

Go to Taiwan – there’s a reason why the Portuguese named it Ilha Formosa!

My Taiwan Series came to an end now. Next stop Hong Kong and after that.. well, time will tell..

Happy New Year!

Nora XXX

The most peculiar shopping mall

The most peculiar shopping mall

Accommodation Taipei: Rose Boutique Hotel, ZhongShan; Design Hotel Ximen, Wanhua; Lan Ting Business Hotel, Datong
Price: Rose Boutique Hotel appr. 57€/room w/out bf; Ximen Design Hotel appr. 94€/room w/bf, note location and weekend raises the prices; Lan Ting Business Hotel appr.63€/room w/bf
Other: Rose Boutique Hotel was the cheapest we had in Taipei but it was small, clean and cozy, next to the railway station. Rooms are tiny and we had some sort of a rat race on the roof top every night.. mind you, I wasn’t bothered though, someone else was lol; Ximen Design Hotel was a major flop. Just look at the price per night. Locationwise okay but no way worth the money. Poor foam mattress, small room, icky bf; Lan Ting Business Hotel is again near the railway station. Friendly staff although we were obviously a rare sight in a business hotel. Bf was great. Minus points for the stinky sewer and the small room.

Sunset at Jiufen

Sunset at Jiufen

//Nyt on Taiwanin 2,5viikon loma lähenemässä loppuaan ja siirrytään Honkkariin. Kaiken kaikkiaan oon tyytyväinen meidän lomaan ja eritoten Taiwaniin. Taipeissa ei ihan kauheasti ole nähtävää tai tehtävää mutta Taipein ympäristössä on kyllä vaikka mitä päiväretken arvoista nähtävää. Jiufen ja Pingxi line kannattaa käydä katsastamassa. Toki joku kuuma lähde retkikin kannattaa kokeilla jos kylmiä jalkoja kolottaa. 😀 Kyllä vain, Taiwan ja Taiwanin loma jäi sydämeen! <3

 

 

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