<![CDATA[Rider's Log....... Lifelong journey around the world - Taiwan ]]>Thu, 22 Feb 2018 18:50:19 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[My first introduction to Taiwan¬†]]>Thu, 10 Nov 2016 07:36:24 GMThttp://riderslog.com/11/post/2016/11/my-first-introduction-to-taiwan.htmlThere is a small island on the northern tip of the South China Sea I always wanted to go but somehow never got around. I flew over that little green patch of heaven a few times on the way to Japan, but until this year I haven’t had the chance to set foot on Taiwan.

Finally, on a faithful day, I met someone who changed the course of my life in a heartbeat and there I was, heading to the Island nation I long wanted to go.

Even thought Taiwan was on my bucket list for a while I haven’t really had any fixed plan or must visit places in mind when I boarded China Airlines flight to Taipei. 

After a pleasant 3.5 hours flight I landed at the Taipei-Taoyuan international airport, little I know at the time that this place will soon become my new home. First thing struck me at the airport was the smoothness of the immigration, even though they took a picture and scanned my fingerprints it took me less than a minute to make immigration and head out to catch an UBER to the city.

If you read my earlier blog entries, you know that I barely write useful travel info on where to go and what to visit but stick to my personal feelings and experiences of the place. This will not change now, so I am not going into different ways of traveling from the airport -which happened to be over 30 kilometers from Taipei- to the city. UBER felt like a good option at that moment, although as l learned later, an expensive option.

After arriving and settling into my downtown hotel room, I head out to find something to eat. I stayed near Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station, close to the SOGO department store so chances that I find a decent local food were high. I learned that there is a great noodle stall nearby and with some help and a hungry belly I was on my way. Just for the time reference, it was already passed midnight so when I arrived at the noodle shop and seen at least 30 people queuing up for a late night bite I was shocked. 

Not just the amount of individuals but the civilized manner they waited front of the shop surprised me. Where am I? Kept asking myself. After the great beef noodle that cost little over $USD4, I headed back to the hotel to collect my thoughts and put together a somewhat doable itinerary for my quick trip.

As the Bible says; The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. In my case, the Lord Almighty had nothing to do with my plan but her Majesty had a say in it. As I haven’t got to this point earlier, I do owe you a small explanation why and how I ended up in Taiwan. A few days earlier, to be exact with those dates, 5 days before my arrival to Taipei I met an extraordinary lady in a hotel lobby in Bangkok. She was visiting the City of Angels with her friend and faith crossed our path. The few hours we spent together in Bangkok made up my mind that I want more of this, more of her. Taiwan, the land I always wanted to visit, explore and conquer now within reach. Next day, my ticket was booked, only for four days at first, called sick at work and was ready to roll. So let's get back to the main story. I went back to the hotel room to plan the trip. Taiwan is not a huge island, with a proper bike I could cover most of it within my four days of stay, two of us here, let's rent a car, cover more ground, those were my thoughts. However, lady Almighty had different plans, instead of driving over 1000 kilometers to cover everything I wanted to cover she opted for the easy approach. Drive little, rest more, I was like damn, I can see the conflict arise from this soon.  

There is not a better way to explora Taipei than a bicycle
Taipei 101, the second tallest building on the world.
Another shot of Taipei 101 from the distance
Although this was my first time in Taiwan and the travel bug kept buzzing in my head I let the lady have her way, kept my mouth shut and went along. I knew that I will be back here no matter what so enjoying and let her enjoy became the objective, instead of my usual SOP, do as much as possible.

The first day we covered the must to visit places in Taipei proper, the 101 tower which claimed the throne as the tallest building in the world for 5 years, up until Burj Khalifa took the crown in 2009. Went to Ximen, the buzzing shopping/market district paddled across town on a bicycle, enjoyed the random food, let history touch us in the temples and memorial halls across town. We had a good day. 

Jiufen, outskirts of Taipei
Afternoon tea in the mist
Next morning as planned we woke up early and headed to rent a car as planned and hit the road. After having a great, sunny first day I was a little disappointed with the torrential rain that greeted us on the second day but hey, we are driving. And yes, driving unlike sitting hours in the traffic to get out of town as I am used to in Bangkok, the traffic is light and flowing in Taiwan and that made everything even easier. First stop was Yilan, on the eastern side of the island. A small, sleepy and in overall not a massively impressive place. However, the surrounding countryside is impressive. Massive hills and rock formations inland side while long, black sanded beaches formed a boundary between the mountains and the ocean.

Little I know that she planned to surprise me and stay here for a night and booked a room in a B&B. At first, I strongly opposed the idea, Yilan is not even 100 kilometers from Taipei, if we stay here we won't be able to drive much further down south, what a disaster, I thought. Luckily it played out. Differently, the B&B she took me turned out to be owned by a famous Taiwanese actor and his wife who are also residing there with their kids and even make the food for us, just like in a traditional B&B. Also, this place was by far the most comfortable hospitality establishment I ever stayed in. I do love staying in hammocks and tents in the jungle, but time to time everyone needs some pampering. 

Not your regular B&B with a Jacuzzi in the middle
Everything was controlled by an Ipad, water temperature and level in the Jacuzzi, lights, curtains, TV, even the shower was remoted controlled.
The room itself was huge with a jacuzzi right in the middle, the front of the bed. The view was breathtaking, unobstructed to the ocean and everything in the room was operated from an Ipad. The toilet sensed whether it was her or me walking in, raising the toilet cover and seat accordingly. I never was seen anything like this before, even though I stayed in a very fancy 5-star hotel in Japan where the toilet was more high tech than my computer that time. After settling in the room, we were on our way to the beach, it was raining, windy, cold and beautiful. The waves were comparable to the ones in Australia, and the dark black sand reminded me of the beaches in New Zealand.

Every step we took in this heavenly paradise, I started to like the idea of relaxed traveling. I wasn’t anxious about leaving and driving hours to get from place to place, I just enjoyed the moment.

In the end, we spent the remaining time of my vacation in Yilan. Enjoying the automated toilet seat, taking trips around the area, went to track around the mountains, ate the best seafood I ever had in my life, took advantage of the large jacuzzi edge’s capability to store street food around, simply just had an excellent few days.

Come, let's check out the edge, she was scared of falling down at this point.
The beautiful coastal mountain range
Our view from the B&B
Yilan city from the top of the mountain
This was the first time when I actually traveled without any plans with another person, the first time when I compromised with someone on the itinerary, the first time I didn’t do much but still felt overwhelmingly lot on a trip.

The moral of the trip for me was to relax sometimes, don’t overdo things, once in a while doing nothing is acceptable. From now on I will have trips like this although I will try to keep the healthy balance of adventure and leisure.

This trip to Taiwan was not the last, little over two months later I moved there, settling in for a while and see where the wind blows me from here after.