I arrived fairly tired very early in the morning in the Airport in Taipeh. For ~20 Euro I bought a SIM card that gave me unlimited 4G for the two weeks. Sweet!
The train took me directly into the city and after a short walk I arrived at my hotel. Unfortunately I could only drop my bags hence my room was not ready yet. So I spent the day checking out two huge tech malls (Syntrend and Guanghua Digital Plaza) that were only a short walk away. All the tech malls in Asia seem very similar to me, so I forgot to take pictures.
Some shitty fast food later I went back to the hotel and could finally go to sleep. But before that I discovered my high tech toilet. This thing was a work of art. Seat warming and “massage” function included! Should I settle at one point in the future one of these nice pieces of engineering needs to be part of the deal! 🙂
I got a bit unlucky with the weather and could not do much for the next two days but on the third day I went to the Yangmingshan national park that was just north of the city and easily reachable by bus. Man I loved being in a first world country again. Everything was so easy to find and they had signs in English and everything.
In the national park I hiked up Mt. Chihsing to 1120m. This took me around 2 to 3 hours. But it was all steps and it was hot and humid. Needless to say I was soaked when I reached the top and actually had flashbacks to the mountain in Chiang Mai. The views were definitely worth it though. But the air pollution was also visible.
On the next day I started out with a visit to Din Tai Fung which is (according to the NYT) one of the best restaurants in the world. The food was amazing and not as pricey as I imagined! I ordered ~4 dishes and all of them were top notch. Dumplings found a way to my heart! 🙂
While my stomach was happily digesting I took the subway to the Taipeh 101 which was ~10 years ago the highest building in the world. Besides the view I could check out the mass damper (yellow round thingy) that keeps the building from swaying too much. They had a video were that huge ball was visibly swinging during a hurricane. Luckily this was not the case that day. I still could not walk on those fancy glass tiles which I found a bit ridiculous.
Once the sun had set I hiked up the nearby Elephant Mountain to get a shot of the skyline. The pictures turned out not very great because of my camera. I finished the day with a big order of dumplings I got at the street near the hotel.
On my last day I got to check out the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Inside the building you can learn a bit about the history of Taiwan which I found interesting. The building was surrounded by a nice park and the huge theater. While walking around I got caught by some more rain so my exploration was cut a bit short. Of course I picked up some dumplings for dinner.
But Taiwan consists of more than just its huge, almost glamorous capital. So I utilized the excellent high-speed train system and went south to Taichung.
A bus took me from the train station to the city center and my nearby hotel. In the afternoon I had some time to explore the city but besides some nice sculptures there was not that much to see. So I was not too unhappy by the incoming rain.
The highlight in, or more accurate near Taichung is the Sun Moon Lake that is easily reachable by bus from the city center. Here my reflexes drilled in over many childhood years by my uncle in Germany kicked in. Basically if I see a lake I instinctively want to grab a bike and cycle around it. And since Taiwan is home some famous bike brands (GIANT, Merida and probably a lot more…) they had excellent equipment waiting to be rented.
After some lost in translation moments with the cute bike rental girl I found out that about half of the lake has a nice bike path and the rest is normal road. The locals are very reluctant to advice visitors to cycle the whole lake but I consider myself a very experienced around-lakes biker so I ignored all the warnings. Also the most interesting spots like a big temple and the harbor town where I had some strange spicy fish in ball form on a stick and some delicious tiramisu as dessert were on the other side of the lake. So after around 35 km, including some challenging elevation changes I arrived back at the start point where I took the bus back to town.
The last day in Taichung I visited a local gym and relaxed in the hotel before taking a train south again. Next stop was Taiwan’s second biggest city Kaohsiung.
And the first sight waited for me in Formosa Boulevard Station where some nice colored glass made for a nice first impression. Very close to the station was my hotel that included an amazing view and oddly a swing.
I concluded the day with some tasty Ramen and a short walk through the city.
A nearby mall got amazing reviews and was – apparently – a must see in the city. So I went there early the next morning and was really disappointed. Almost no people around and just normal, boring stores. Not worth it in my opinion.
Back in the city center I found out my hotel was right next to a street with heaps of smartphone stores and since I was still looking for a replacement for my battery dying phone I checked it out and did find nothing. Also next to my hotel was the local night market where I enjoyed some really good street food for dinner.
On my final day I checked out the art district and searched for the famous statue of Bumblebee (from Transformers). Maybe my eyes are getting weaker or they relocated it because of the nearby train track maintenance but I could not find it. But I found some other cool statues and a nice place to get lunch.
More or less next to the art district is another hill with some hiking trails and also the local zoo. I decided to skip the zoo this time and went for the hiking. The goal was Monkey Hill. And – surprisingly – there were some monkeys hanging out but besides that nothing too special. The views of the city were nice.
Because I got caught by a rain shower I skipped the nearby island where you could cycle through a nice park. But at least the night market provided me with another nice dinner. I will definitely miss these markets once I am back in Germany. Compared to Thailand the food is actually not cheap but just the diversity and atmosphere is great.
A relatively long train ride later I arrived back in Taipeh the next day for one more night. Two goals on my agenda: Get to the post office and collect my new camera. I had ordered it on my visit but it took ages to be delivered so my cousin was kind enough to sent it to Taiwan for me to pick up.
The second thing was another visit to the Din Tai Fung restaurant. And it was amazing again! Another thing I will miss and I added “learn how to make proper dumplings” to my bucket list.
So very early the next day I went (almost to the wrong) airport and caught my flight to Seoul.