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bootlegga T'ai-pei - A travel report by James
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T'ai-pei,  Taiwan - flag Taiwan -  T'ai-pei
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bootlegga's travel reports

A short trip to Taipei

  15 votes
Page: 1 2
While I was living in Taiwan, I was fortunate enough to visit Taipei a couple of times. Taiwanese are justifiably proud of this very nice city.


Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
While there is always some argument over whether or not Taiwan is part of China, one thing most everyone can agree on is that Taipei is a fun city to visit.

Taipei boasts an excellent train and bus system, and it is quite easy to navigate, as most signs are in both Mandarin and English.

Being a sub-tropical island, Taiwan’s climate is very warm and only a couple of the highest mountains on the island receive any snow at all. During the winter, most of the island remains well above the freezing mark and is quite comfortable. When I arrived in mid-February, it was +18 (Celsius). The summers tend to be very warm and humid. Autumn is punctuated by typhoon season and plenty of rain.

Favourite spots:
The changing of the guard at the Martyr's Shrine
The changing of the guard at the Martyr's Shrine
For military history buffs, a visit to the Martyr’s Shrine is almost mandatory. This is the ceremonial resting place of soldiers who died fighting for the republic. Guards here stand motionless for hours on end, similar to the guards at Buckingham Palace. Personally, I feel sorry for the guards, who endure endless taunts and pokes from tourists. Make sure you stay to watch the changing of the guard, which happens about once every two hours.

What's really great:
One of the preferred methods of transport in Taipei
One of the preferred methods of transport in Taipei
Taipei has something for everyone. If you love to shop, then there is plenty of that. If you like sight-seeing, there are world class museums and sights to visit. If you are a history buff, the city has something for you too. And if you love to party, there are tons of bars and pubs.

Sights:
National Museum
National Museum
The National Museum houses the largest collection of Chinese artifacts in the world. Over 700,000 items are stored here and they are rotated on a regular basis. To see everything the museum has, you would need to visit once a week for an entire year.

Chang Kai-shek Memorial is one of Taiwan’s most stunning buildings. A gleaming white edifice that rises out of the ground, it memorializes the former leader of the Kuomintang and the Republic of China.

Taipei is also home to the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101. Be sure to drop by and see this incredible building.

Some of Taipei’s better sights are on the outskirts of the city, like Fort San Domingo, which in Chinese is called Red Hair Fortress after the Europeans who occupied it in the 1600s.

Taipei also has many large night markets, where all manner of goodies can be bought, from CDs/DVDs to clothing to food.

Accommodations:
Taipei Train Station
Taipei Train Station
As I didn't stay in Taipei, I can't give you the names of any places to stay, but there are always tons of inexpensive places near the major train stations.

Hangouts:
A funky building in Taipei
A funky building in Taipei
One of the most interesting places in Taipei is Snake Alley. It has plenty of food stalls, but the reason to come is to test your bravery (or stupidity). Here you can buy all sorts of delicacies like snake and turtle meat and blood, as well as snake venom.

A test of manhood for some is to drink a glass of steaming hot snake blood from a freshly killed snake. I have to admit I wasn’t brave enough to try it…

Restaurants:
Pancakes from a street vendor
Pancakes from a street vendor
On of the best places in Taipei to eat IMHO is a night market. The best noodle dish I ever had was from a vendor on the street. It was filled with pork cilantro and sprouts and utterly amazing.

Every market will have a variety of food stalls, and some of the more popular foods are Dou Hua, a sweet tofu-like dessert, Shumai (dumplings stuffed with a combination of meat, veggies, and/or rice) and Taiwanese sausage (kind of like kielbasa but it tastes better and is far worse for you), noodle stir fries and chicken.

Many street vendors don’t really put all that much effort into sanitation, but I never had a problem. If you have a delicate constitution, go to a place with a long line and ask for something made fresh while you wait, instead of something that has been sitting under a heat lamp.

Other recommendations:
The garden at Aletheia University
The garden at Aletheia University
Just north of Taipei is Danshui, a little port town filled with some interesting places, like Fort San Domingo (Red Body Hair City) and the Aletheia University (formerly the Oxford Women's College), founded in 1872. The gardens and surrounding area are a great place to go for a walk.

Just down the coast (about 125 km south) is Taroko Gorge National Park, a very popular getaway for many on this tiny island. There you can hike, camp, and do a variety of other activities.

http://www.taroko.gov.tw/english/


Published on Friday June 2th, 2006


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Sat, Jun 17 2006 - 04:09 AM rating by downundergal

I really enjoyed your report. I had an overnight stopover in Taipei last year but as the plane was severely delayed and it was teeming rain I saw very little of the city but it is certainly on my list to revisit.

Sun, Jun 04 2006 - 02:40 PM rating by mistybleu

A very intresting report on a place I know very little about.

Amanda

Sun, Jun 04 2006 - 04:06 AM rating by marianne

James,
Your report gives a very good impression of Tapei. I like the detail about the weather and the snakes blood. The photo of the motorbikes is great, exactly what I had imagined transport to be .

Fri, Jun 02 2006 - 05:19 PM rating by jesusferro

Very didactic report about a different China. Thanks you for share

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