15 May 2011 A Day in Taipei
Our two weeks in Taiwan started with some great outings around Taipei. At Mudan House, more of a hotel than a hostel, both Doris the owner and her dad, Stephen, gave us suggestions for day tours. Stephen teaches tourism at the University; during our homemade breakfast of egg pancakes with onion and cheese, created by Aunt Acco, he told us about Alishan, Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge. As is usual for us, we only had one night of accommodation planned and a rough sketch to guide our two-week visit.
Mudan House is in a great neighborhood; it does not feel like we are in a major city. Doris’s family lives on floors 5 and 6. Doris says in the summer they have many natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons in Taiwan. She says it is good we are here now in April. She was so helpful and friendly and we would soon realize that nearly everyone in Taiwan shared these same qualities.
Video: A day in Taipei
We met an Indonesian couple at breakfast who are from Sumatra and now live in Singapore. They can’t believe how many places we have been in Sumatra that they have yet to see in their own country, such as Lake Toba, and Pualau Wei! They are also shockingly impressed with our Chinese (I mean 5 words which is even less than I speak in Moroccan Arabic, but at least we try.) They were very impressed with George’s Indonesian. He can have a real conversation, not just mumble through “Thank you,” and “Where is the bathroom?”
Taipei was full of very friendly people, and a very clean city. It was incredibly simple to use the MRT rapid transit and everything was written and announced in Chinese and English. At 20NT (New Taiwan Dollar; 29NT is $1) for most rides, transport was also very economical.
Our first stop was Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and national theater. The grounds are beautiful but we heard there are discussions underway to change the name. So when you visit, the site may have a different name and no longer be that of the former leader, who used heavy governmental control and intervention to control the country. When you arrive and see the beautiful buildings, large garden area, red roofs and ornate gate structure, you will find the attraction well worth visiting.
We were confused about 2-28 Peace Park, and on our video we called it the War Memorial. This site is in memory of the massacre that began on February 28, 1947 and ushered in Taiwan’s era of martial law. The park is beautiful, and shares its grounds with the National Taiwan Museum.
Later in the day we traveled by metro to Taipei 101, at 508 meters the second tallest building in the world (after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa) but we chose not to go to the top. The exterior was completed in 2003; construction began in 1997. The world’s fastest elevator is in this building and travels at 1010 meters per minute, rocketing passengers on a 40 second ride from ground level to the 89th floor observation deck.
More videos to come about our trip in Taiwan. See more travel stories at We Said Go Travel.