First, I should give credit where credits due. My friend Chris gave me the idea for this blog post title.
I finally made it to Taipei! We had our introductory meetings at a swanky hotel, were introduced to the scholars doing research this year, met some diplomats, and visited a few museums. We also had the opportunity to get to know ETA’s from other areas of Taiwan. So fun!
Fulbright paid for our expenses while during the conference, including our traveling to and fro. That meant we got to take the High Speed Rail (HSR)! Essentially, in order to get to Taipei by HSR it takes a short 50 minutes. It costs about $25 USD. There are 2 other accessible ways to get to Taipei, which cost a lot less, but take much longer. A normal train takes about 2.5 hours and bus takes 4. (I think…) Some people from other locations flew, or took a bus.
The conference was fun and informative. Lots of handshaking, smiling, and creme brulee. At one of the museums we visited we were introduced to the works of a super famous calligrapher. That was cool. I was more interested in the museum in remembrance of the 228 massacre. Essentially, a rebellion led by Taiwanese was violently suppressed. Having studied quite a bit on war crimes and genocide in college it was interesting to hear about something I wasn’t previously aware of.
After touring the museums we were left to our own leisure for the weekend. So Jedrek, another ETA from Taichung, and I headed to our friend Matt’s place where we would be staying for the next couple nights. We used the local public bikes to bike to a small night market and I ended up meeting up with some other ETA’s later for a night out on the town. Fun times all around.
Sunday was a big day.
We started off taking a gondola ride to see a purported fabulous view of the city.
The entire ride took about 25 minutes. At the top there was a touristy area with tea shops, “xiaochi” or local snacks, and restaurants with incredible views. I ended up eating with Matthew, who I was staying with, Julianna, and Melissa, my roommate. We ate at a place that was famous for cooking their food in tea. Loved everything I tasted, but I’ve decided pork floss (on top of the rice) really isn’t my thing.
After such delicious food, we decided to head back. We thought it might storm and the gondola doesn’t run when it is storming. So we headed down the mountain but decided to stop and quickly see the Chi Nan Temple. Honestly, this was one of my favorite moments of the trip. On the steps of the temple the wind was blowing and it was so peaceful. Not to mention, it was a beautiful view.
After the temple we scurried down the gondola (with the impending thunderstorm) and headed towards Taipei 101. It is the second tallest building in the world! We were going to pay the $20 to go up and see the sites, but it turns out 30% of it was close due to construction. We are going back to Taipei in about a month, so I will go then.
So, instead of going up Taipei 101, we ate Xiao Long Bao instead! Apparently it is special cuisine and during regular eating hours you normally wait over an hour for a table. It is a dumpling, with a bit of soup inside. This was one of the first times in Taiwan that I took a bite of something and melted. It was delicious.
Lastly, we hit up the largest night market Taipei has. We all got some sort of bubble tea/ milk and shopped, saw the sights!
I have seen the snakes in a jar before in China. I know sometimes people make it into an alcholic drink, but apparently there is also snake soup. That’s great! What wasn’t quite so great was the 3 crates of live snakes right next to these dead snakes.
After a couple hours at the night market and the snazzy purchase of $6 shoes and Coni pink boxer shorts for $3, I was ready to call it quits and pass out. Today we woke up and took the HSR back to Taichung. Needless to say- busy weekend- but lots of fun. Leaves me hungry for more travel in Taiwan!