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Venturing new land in Taiwan: Taipei in 101 pictures!

 
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jbalonso777
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Location: Never, never land

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:50 pm    Post subject: Venturing new land in Taiwan: Taipei in 101 pictures! Reply with quote

The story so far:
We had arrived into Hong Kong after a 4 year gap on SQ's A330 and A380, which led to some unfortunate and unnecessary drama, due to positive vibes in Hong Kong. Once the drama was overcome, it was time to head for Taiwan, on the ultra rare (outside the US, at least) MD-90 aircraft. It was now time to experience the city of Taipei.....

Fitting isn’t it? From the city where the world's 6th tallest building is located, the Taipei 101, comes a hundred and one pictures of the city! Very Happy

TAIPEI: DAY 1 & 2
If I said that we crashed onto our beds that night in the previous part, I do apologize because that’s a damn lie Razz Mum went off to sleep almost immediately, yes, but Dad and I? Dad finished watching Rush, while I went through the data from MD90 flight (that is…pictures and videos Razz), while making notes for this TR and..writing a bit more about the A380 flight.
Surely, it wasn’t long before my eyes got heavy and I went to bed. It was now almost 2 in the morning…with barely 6 hours of sleep coming up.
The tour operator (MyTaiwanTour) kept me abreast with all information, being quite prompt and efficient. A change in guide was notified to me - Sandy would show us around Taipei for the duration of Sunday.
At 0840, we were down for breakfast. 0900 was the time for us to meet Sandy. Come 0857, she arrived and introduced herself to us, and asked us to step out as soon as we finished breakfast. It consisted of ham, omelet, bread, OJ, milo, cereal, etc. The TripAdvisor reviews warned us about a rude restaurant crew. And so it was, the exact opposite. We were greeted with huge smiles, and yes, Sandy was smiling a lot as well!


I totally know what that telecom provider is Rolling Eyes

Post breakfast, we stepped into the Volkswagen van, to pick up another family. Luckily, they stayed close by to our hotel, however, they did take some time to get down, delaying us by about 15 or 20 odd minutes. Another short drive later, we were at our first destination, the Longshan Temple.
I really do apologize that I do not have the time to go in to much detail, I'll just let the pictures do the talking... But I must say, whatever Sandy told us was amazing! Yes, she did lack in her English, she admitted that (she learnt it at the age of 13!), but full marks for her effort and the amount of knowledge she had! It was amazing! Here, she told us everything about the traditions, how people worship the Gods, seek answers, etc. She also showed how they are given offerings after all of this - which included a can of Coke, amongst others.
Another set of lame excuses, if you please: I checked my camera battery was at 40% just before Longshan Temple. After Longshan, it was down to just 32%. SOS levels. So, I decided to save up as much as I could....therefore, I've borrowed a few pictures from Dad.
Anyways, here is Longshan:

Okay, the street first, hehe Laughing












We had some multiple spices chilled tea, mostly aloe vera. Was it amazing? I want more type amazing! While waiting for the cab, we got to know our co-passengers. They were of Japanese Origin, however, Americans living in Hawaii! How about that! Very Happy


Our next destination was the Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall. I'm not going to go into much of the history and politics, but it is very interesting which you all should perhaps check out. Asked Sandy - is CKS loved or hated? She said, it is a very controversial topic, and did not provide an answer. Understandably so.




Luckily, we made it just in time to see the guard changing, a breath taking 15 minutes display of serious faces and loaded guns, all done by the youth of Taiwan - yes, it is mandatory for the boys to serve the military, including the hour long standing in front of Chiang Kai Shek's statue.






It was a sight to savor, no doubt. The clicks and clacks of the shoes and guns echoed through the massive mausoleum where we stood. Somehow, this is a controversial statement, yes, but I felt an air of communism was around this area.....

Something about it...is communist...




I had to stick to auto-mode...couldn't risk killing the battery!



We were off to see the Presidential Building next.



After this, Sandy highlighted the need for free WiFi in this day and age. And so, she gave us the password to the mobile router on the car, charged by the cigarette lighter! And it was bloody quick at the same time!

Next stop? Taipei 101! Tallest building up until 2010, fifth tallest in 2014. Damn, how stuff has changed! Shocked However though, in what was the first rip off of the day, unfortunately, this was only seeing Taipei 101 from the outside. Not going to the top floors......Why?!!?
Anyways though... This is when we decided: screw packing in the morning, we'll do that tonight and rush for the Taipei 101 ASAP next morning!








We didn't show our displeasure, but to make up for it (or so we thought), Sandy booked us at the Din Tai Fung restaurant. It took us just 10 minutes to get to a seat, where otherwise a snake line of people meant that waiting time was just 80 minutes Shocked
We took this time to get to know each other more - passports and the Dad bag were at the hotel this time, just to make sure LaughingRazz Uncle Larry was a funny person, with similar interests as Dad, so this made sure...the ladies (mum, the other aunty and her daughter) had their own conversations....and I had my phone Crying or Very sad
Without any WiFi Evil or Very Mad
Ordered the food, and...did I forget to mention more smiling people? My God! Everyone was smiling...no matter how much we kept calling them over to the table to amend orders, ask for water, etc! Truly, the happiest country I've been to!



Pork chop soup....heavenly!


Some dim-sum (see what I did there? Yeah okay, I should stop with the puns Rolling Eyes)

After that amazing lunch, it was time to head for the National Palace Museum, which is slightly outside of Taipei. Dad and Uncle Larry had their corporate stuff to talk about. To fill in during the long car journeys, Sandy would sing us a few folk songs, all from centuries ago. She had a beautiful voice, I must say. She described everything - from the meaning of the song (translation), to the significance of the tone and of course, to how relevant they were to the time in history. A fascinating experience!
National Palace Museum...well, people suggest at least 4 hours there...but I'm one who really isn't interested in all the historical artifacts and all to be honest. But sandy had many bunnies in her hat, and she pulled yet another one out. She took us to the most prominent ones, such as the jade grasshopper eating cabbage, or the sleeping baby porcelain. She also showed us an interesting video, kinda like a night in the museum thing, but animated with the artifacts personified as kids, and an entertaining back ground as a whole! No pics in National Palace Museum, this is all they allow:



Outside



We spent about 2 and a half odd hours there. Next up, it was a drive through the Yangmingshan National Park was followed by a bird's eye view of Taipei. During this, Sandy told us a lot about the flora and fauna in Taiwan. Complimentary cans of Coke and cake (pineapple cake, WOW!) were given us, as Sandy told us to rest it out a bit if possible, since the drive would be quite long. We reached the spot for the bird's eye view...





That looks so much like WALL-E! In a totally unrelated observation, we just flew on EVA Air! Razz



Another long drive down the hills followed, I slept for a bit, Dad and Sandy dared Uncle Larry to do a Hawaiian Dance in the next destination, the Beitou Hot Spring Area! That's all I heard, and before I knew it we were there.

That looks so much like the Banco Santander logo! Anyone agree? Razz



It smelled. Horribly. It was the chemical reactions. And the heat was upwards of 80C. This was easily felt, no doubt! Took a couple of sweaty pictures there, obviously.

Next up was the Danshui Old Street. Further outside Taipei, almost in New Taipei City. Watched the sun set here, it was time for some low light photography! Danshui is almost...everything. Clothes, food, food, food, souvenirs, once cream, etc. Dogs being taken around on prams. Long 1.5 feet tall ice creams! This was the Mong Kok of Taipei!
Let the pictures do the talking Smile




See the plane there? Very Happy
















The last attraction of the day was the Shilin Night Market. We were out of energy. The three of us wanted to get back to the hotel, pack, eat and rest after what was a tiring, yet enjoyable day. The van kept getting stuck in traffic. Although, Sandy kept us alive with her cheerful conversations. Shiling Night Market was overflowing with people - thank God we didn't go there! But its an experience we missed out on. Next time, perhaps!
It was the end of our Ultimate Day tour. We shared contact details as we bid adieu to Sandy and Uncle Larry and his family. Yes, we had to take the MRT back to the hotel. This is perhaps the only flaw in the itinerary: they won’t drop you back at the hotel. We found a cab. The drivers’ two daughters were there, both perhaps under the age of 10 or 11. They were really accommodating, and yet again, they had a very positive attitude! We reached the hotel. I turned on the TV. Switched on the WiFi in my phone: Daniel Ricciardo was leading the Belgian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg in second, Kimi Raikkonen in third (:shock:shock:shock:) and Lewis Hamilton WAY down in 19th or 20th! The two Mercedes’ of Rosberg and Hamilton clashed on just the second lap, leading to this. At the end of the race, Fernando Alonso’s front wing end plate was broken, as he barely finished the race.


Pretty decent room! And fast WiFi! What more does one need? Smile


Although its Mandarin commentary, they're still showing F1. No complaints!

As has been the case in every race in 2014, I got bored. So, I decided to head for Ximending, and buy some dinner. This was some place!







Our hotel! Smile


Pineapple cake and all..


Pork steak for dinner....it wasn't very good to be honest Sad


More Mandarin!

Woke up early next morning to get to the Taipei 101. Well, even that got a bit delayed as we woke up late, by around half an hour. Mum headed down for breakfast first, Dad and I took some time. Once again, the cheerful lady greeted us for breakfast, and offered us two portions rather than one - so 2 buns, 2 omelets, 2 pieces of ham per person! And all of this was asked with a smile! I fell in love with Taiwan, I really did.

Double breakfast joy! Very Happy


Uhh...yeah...

Yes, it was the same breakfast the day before. If I were in this hotel for another 6 days, would I get bored, just like in the Ibis, Paris? Most likely so.
But oh well, this was the second last meal in Taiwan.
Slight walk followed as we got to the Ximending station. But before that, we needed cash. We had run out of notes, to pay for the MRT. We headed for a 7-Eleven store, where an ATM was there. That dispensed a NT$5000 note, very helpful for the NTD300 we required for 2 way tickets. Ugh.
Waited in line to get some change, the clerk seemed a bit confused as to what we were telling him. Thankfully though, the person behind us in the queue knew what we were talking about, he translated it and told the clerk, clearing up the confusion. You see? Taiwan has the nicest people. Ever.

Went to the metro station, and bought tickets for the Taipei 101 station: they're just coin sized tokens rather than the usual tickets we find in Hong Kong or Singapore. The trains are a pretty good, made by Kawasaki I think. Everytime the breaks were released, it sound like a little girl screaming...but that was just me, perhaps. The driver would step out and make sure everyone gets on the train, and once that happens, he decides to close the door when its safe. Also, there was an instance when a blind man boarded our train. Very good service to help him out, both by the driver and stations security! We went from Ximending to Taipei Main Station, and then interchanged onto another longer train ride which took us to Taipei 101. Trains were largely empty and very clean, with idiot-proof markings, signs, and voice commands. Good stuff!

Ximending MRT station


Monday morning rush hour.....yes.


And the return, on an empty MRT. Wow, if only this was found in Hong Kong, too!

Tickets were booked quite soon for the 89th and 91st floors. But the commercialization meant that a walk potentially lasting a few steps took us around for at least 400m, stopping for the annoying customary souvenir photo. The line for the lift was long (quite a surprise considering it was a monday morning, half an hour after it opened!), but yes, it was quick.


One would expect ears to pop horrendously while going up the floors on this super fast lift, but that didn't happen since the lift was pressurized! Amazing stuff, really. Usual stuff, got up there and took a few pictures of the views, including the predominantly domestic Taipei Shongsan Airport.


World's largest tuned mass damper. At 660 tonnes, there is not much I can say about this, other holy mother of God! Shocked




The airport! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy



Ice cream, any one?




We talked to one of the guides in Taipei 101...she told us visiting Taiwan was a must for us.. She also gave us plenty of brochures and itineraries to discover more of Taiwan next time! Went back down the elevator, boarded the MRT back to the hotel where we completed our final round of packing.



BR stuff, hehe






Interesting graffiti!

After the final round of packing, we checked out from the hotel, and began the long wait for finding a cab. And once we eventually did find one, he told us he won't be going...and then he made sure we found another one for us. How nice, seriously! Very Happy

So, in the next part then: a slight deviation. No, it won't be the flight on the B747. It will in fact be on the THSR, the Taiwanese version of the TGV or Shinkansen. Stay tuned, it will be up in a few days only (seriously...I've typed it out.. Smile )

Regards
Jish
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Last edited by jbalonso777 on Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it as worth the wait, again. A lovely JB-esque TR once again, with all the usual exciting ingredients. A lovely report from a place exotic for most of us here. And as usual, a great perspective on the place, its people, a feel of the streets, points of interest, customs and traditions, and...of course, food!
And yes, nice word-play and puns. Some dim-sums Smile Great observation with Wall-E and Eva Air! It is nice to hear about the cheerful common person in Taipei. We all look forward to your high speed train ride, and more!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another excellent photo-essay Jishnu! It really opened my eyes to the potential of tourism in Taipei - I always thought of it as a massive industrial city!
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ameya
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great photos Jishnu. Taiwan has never been on my list of places to visit

Guess that will now change!

Thanks
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good set of clicks!

While a little distant from India, Taiwan certainly should make for an interesting tourist option, away from the BKKs and SINs closer to home.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey all, thank you so much for the replies! I really appreciate it!

Sumantra sir - thank you for your kind words! Yes, I will put up the HSR TR up when the time is right, hopefully! Very Happy

Nimish sir - thank you! Taiwan has always been a mystery to me...and now I know what it is like, and surely it was much much better than what I had in mind! A must visit, yes.

Ameya sir - thank you too! Yes, I'm glad I added a new item to your bucket list! Twisted Evil It truly is an awesome place, and something which you should think about if you have plans! Very Happy

Varun - heya, thanks for your reply! Agree with your point. SIN and BKK are the only places (and DXB on the other end) where the average Indian would want to go for during their holidays. But Taiwan is an awesome option, no doubt! And perhaps Taiwan too should advertise themselves a bit more in India...more flights from India would be a start!

Regards
Jish
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How come I didn't get the sir lol? Razz
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiderguy252 wrote:
How come I didn't get the sir lol? Razz


And why did I get the sir Twisted Evil ?
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimish wrote:
Spiderguy252 wrote:
How come I didn't get the sir lol? Razz


And why did I get the sir Twisted Evil ?


These are mysteries....even I can't solve Razz
Sorry for my inconsistencies, hehe Laughing

Regards
Jish
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