Taipei is admittedly one of those places I never really had much interest in visiting but realistic options are fairly limited when you only have a few days available. After my research though I was very much looking forward to the trip and wasn’t disappointed.
Fortunately, I was able to avoid any of the tropical downpours until my last day on the way to the airport. It was bloody hot though with temperatures in the high 30’s and, as I was hiking quite a bit, I sweated absolute bucketloads!
I found the people to be very helpful, kind and friendly which is very important when you can’t read or understand anything. English signs aren’t as common as in Japan but the standard of spoken English is certainly higher! One particular woman even lent me her own bicycle in order to see some of the sights in Pinglin which went beyond her call of duty.
I spent my first two nights at the YMCA but it wasn’t so fun to stay there (expensive too) so I moved to a cheaper hostel where I met some really nice Taiwanese people. I also met two American girls at Fulong beach and a Canadian couple in Yangmingshan National Park who gave me some useful advice about where to go and what to do as I didn’t really know what was essential to see as everything is made to sound good in the guide book.
I have never seen so many motorised scooters in a country. Absloutely thousands of them and often weaving in and out of the crowds on the paths. Its very common to see a family on the one scooter but to see 5 people (a mother, father and 3 kids) on the one machine was a sight to behold.
I didn’t tend to stay in Taipei city in the day as I thought it would be just like most other asian cities. Instead I went to the north east Bitou Cape to do some hiking on day one where I saw some beautiful coastal scenery including sea eroded cliffs. At the end of the trail I went snorkelling in the ocean park at Longdong Bay (the name caused amusement for a few minutes!) which was far better than I imagined it would be. I saw lots of fish and cooled off after a sweaty walk in the heat. Further down the coast I went to a beautiful white sand beach called Fulong.
Climbing Mount Chihsing in Yangmingshan National park was on my itinerary for day two and on my third day I went cycling and hiking in Pinglin which is in the sticks and famous for its tea not that I ever really drink too much of it. Don’t let small matters like that stop you from seeing such a place!
My three full days were very busy long days usually starting at 8am and finishing at around 11pm and other highlights included going up the worlds tallest building, seeing the changing of the guards at Martyr’s Shrine and eating lots of nice Taiwanese food from the many night markets. I somehow managed to resist the temptation though to drink snakes blood which was available!