We feel like we’ve earned our first destination bonus on our trip as visiting Taiwan was not in our original plans. However, we needed to work our way back up north to Japan and the price was right. Our decision was rewarded as we enjoyed our stay and we gained a very positive perspective on Taiwan. The people were welcoming and many spoke English and most signs had English sub-titles. We enjoyed the food and while the weather was hot and tropical, we had some beautiful blue skies when we were hiking. The countryside was a lush green with lots of Mountains and the deep blue color of the ocean reminded us of Hawaii. Taipei has wide streets and sidewalks and motor vehicles actually yielded to pedestrians. We were fortunate to be staying right across the street from Taipei 101, which was the world’s tallest building from 2004 through 2010. It’s beautifully designed making for a very fitting landmark. It contains a large shopping mall, with several reasonably priced dining options and a supermarket, that we took advantage of. We even got an extra-added bonus of experiencing our first, and hopefully last, earthquake of the trip. We can only hope that this bonus destination will be the first of many more that we’ll luck into along our way.
Taipei, Taipei 101, Four Beasts Hiking Trails, Wufenpu Shopping Area, Raohe St. Night Market, Peace Park, Hualien, Taroko Gorge National Park & Pacific Ocean.
Taipei is bordered by some lush green mountains. Just 6 blocks from our hotel, we were able to take a 3 hour hike on the Four Beasts trails that provided spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas. The hiking trails consisted of what seemed like endless sets of stairs. When combined with the 90+ degree heat, this hike was even tougher than what we trekked along the Great Wall in China. We opted for a full day tour on our last full day and flew out to Hualien and the Taroko Gorge. Not only did we see some stunning scenery, we also met some great people. There were only 6 other people on the tour but one couple was from Japan another from Perth, Australia and another individual had just come from Thailand. These are all places that we plan to visit and the insights that these fellow travellers each shared with us are sure to help us make the most of our visits. At one of the tour stops in the heart of the gorge, we heard a loud rumble and felt the ground shake right next to a monument dedicated to the head engineer who built the road through the gorge. We learned that he died in an avalanche caused by an earthquake in that same area. Some coincidence.
We used our Hyatt points to stay at the Grand Hyatt in Taipei. It’s another impressive property that offered an outstanding value that we couldn’t pass up.
Food And Drink:
We primarily ate Asian food enjoying various noodle dishes, steamed buns, dumplings, rice and more. We’re not always sure what’s in the dishes we’re eating but we like most of what we’re served. The one thing that we haven’t adapted to yet is the full experience of the Hot Pots. We like the food in them but we can’t take the heat and have to ask the staff to turn off the fire burning underneath them so the liquid in them stops bubbling.
We sampled some local beers and all were good. We also found a nice selection of wines from around the world at acceptable prices.
Elizabeth surprisingly scored some of the best multigrain bread we’ve ever eaten at a supermarket which provided for breakfast 3 of the days we were there.
We used just about all modes of transportation in Taiwan except Scooters, which are prevalent, and found them all to serve us quite well. We used subways, taxis, buses, a 1 hour plane ride to Haulien and a 3 hour train ride back. The domestic plane flight was nice, in that we could take a hot coffee and water bottles though security without a problem.
Blogger Stuart Dawson for posting info about the Four Beasts hike from Taipei 101 @ http://hikingtaiwan.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/taipei-top-five-day-hikes/
For Your Amusement:
As we walked by an elderly street vendor, he starting shouting at Rich and pointing at his hip. Rich thought he was just trying to get him to dig out some money and buy the pancake-like batter he was frying that smelled so good. So, Rich ignored him but the street vendor persisted, raising his voice even louder while reaching down and producing an empty plastic bottle. That’s when the light bulb went off. Rich was carrying an empty plastic water bottle by his side while waiting to find a recycling bin. The street vendor wanted the empty plastic bottle, which Rich gladly handed him.
We don’t have a picture to share of that exchange but thought you might also enjoy seeing how we’re doing our laundry and having some fun.
The bag Rich is holding has a plastic cover provided by the uniqlo store clerk to protect against the rain shower outside.
Highlights: Taipei 101, Four Beasts Hike, Taroko Gorge Tour