Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Travel, Wander

Tired of Hong Kong? Try Taipei!

view of taipei from taipei101

Ok, so you’ve been to Hong Kong a million times and somehow it already feels like a second home. You already know how to get to your favourite local noodle restaurant even with your eyes closed. Going around and out of town does not require you anymore to bring that trusted metro map. That Portuguese egg tart seller already knows your name. Heck, you even speak Cantonese already (ok this might be a bit exaggerated). But you get the drift. So it’s time to find a new second home. A place that would excite and even make you feel a bit nervous.

Jeff and I challenge ourselves to travel abroad as much as we could, not to collect stamps on our passports (which, thankfully, Hong Kong has already abandoned and replaced with a small square of paper), but because we hate complacency. Complacency is the enemy of curiousity. Once you become complacent, you stop asking questions. That is simply like being a sheep- dull, boring, and without self-awareness.

A new surrounding triggers awareness. You cannot be on auto-pilot mode. Suddenly, the roads are different, the people talk in a different language and behave differently, and the foods are not the usual meals you have, even the money in your hand has a different value.

We trusted hello kitty to fly us there.

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The View from the Top

Here’s an awesome view of the city which I took from the tallest building in the country, Taipei 101. You’ll notice that they don’t have as many skyscrapers as Hong Kong. Most of the buildings are just mid-rise and the high-rise buildings are quite spread out.

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If you plan to go up to the viewing room, which you should do since you’re already there, I suggest you buy your tickets online to avoid lining up twice. As this was one of our spontaneous trips, we didn’t really plan anything and simply booked a flight and a hotel, so that meant lining up to buy tickets and and again for the lift.

Creative Twists

You might also enjoy Taiwan’s humorous take on businesses. It’s rather twisted but we couldn’t resist its call. Who actually thinks to dine in a pay-as-you-go toilet? But here the Taiwanese made it a money-making scheme.

Surprisingly, the Modern Toilet Restaurant’s food was better than we expected. Jeff was all red and sweaty eating his super spicy seafood noodles. It was so fun watching him. The serving was quite big so a dish would be good enough for sharing.

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Look at those yummy dessert!

Eating food that resembled poop and drinking something that looked like pee was a strange yet entertaining experience. I have to admit I tried to avoid going to the washroom while in the restaurant in fear of spotting what had originally inspired my meal’s concept.

If you feel like you haven’t had enough, do try their prison, hospital, and barbie themed restaurants.

For the Love of the Game

One more thing you won’t get in Hong Kong is baseball. Believe it or not, we flew to Taipei and stayed overnight only to feed this boy’s baseball game craving. This wasn’t my first time to be dragged to this little American game. Two years ago, I watched my very first baseball game in Seoul. Something I did not quite enjoy. Imagine my surprise when I found myself cheering together with the crowd. Perhaps it was the free vegetable noodle soup they gave away? Or that nice cucumber-stuffed calamari? The squid was so good we had to go back and get a second serving. This time with a can of Taiwan beer for Jeff and a cup of iced Taiwanese black tea for me. Indeed, a can of this so-called beer was more than enough: Please let us know where to find a good craft brew in Taipei.

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You know it’s a good game when you’ve managed to finish watching it without getting hit in the head by a foul ball :)

The Red House and Ximen Market

I love going to all sorts of markets- street markets, night markets, food market, Christmas markets. You name it. Not so much to go shopping but more of to feel the energy of the people, to see what gives people livelihood, and what they’re passionate about.

86 years ago the first 35 shops opened here in Ximen. This market was surrounded by walls and adjacent to the historical Red House building back in 1928. The doorposts were pulled down by residents to build more stores and shelters in 1949. It’s great to know that their city government is working on preserving the area through its Ximen Regeneration Project.

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Night Market, The Night Life

Forget about the bars, we suggest that you stay outdoors and check out the night markets. This is surely better for your tummy and your pocket. You can also avoid that annoying after drinks headache.

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Since delicious milk tea shops can be found in every corner, it’s hard to not drink too much of it. It’s just so addicting. I dare say, it’s even worth flying for!

Now, I’m sure you’re already convinced that Taipei is worth checking out. In the next days, hopefully, I’ll start writing about day trips you can take from Taipei and how to apply for a visa, so do come back.

Good night and stay curious,

Chris