Year of Wanderlust Day 6 Taiwan Review

Greetings fellow wanderlusters. I’m now on day 6 of my year of wanderlust and so far, it has been a doozy. For this entry, I would like to focus on my brief but wonderful visit to the island nation of Taiwan. Hopefully, with this entry, I can set some sort of template for future entries on all of the countries that I will visit. Let me know if it works for you or if I should change some things.

Itinerary

I was in Taiwan for 4 complete days, with the following schedule:

Year of Wanderlust Day 6 Reviewing Taiwan

Beef noodle

Motorcycle around gate

Motorcycle around gate

Day 1: Had noodle beef for breakfast near where I was staying, which was the bomb. Walk around Taipei, mainly focusing on the areas near the National Museum, the Memorial Hall, and the Main Station. It was a very hot and humid April day so I rested a lot in parks when I got tired of walking. Also got food near Dongmen Station. There’s a popular Vietnamese restaurant there. The beef noodle is similar to the northern style Pho. It was okay, not great.  At night, I did the Tonghua Night Market near Taipei 101, although it’s also near the Linjiang Street MRT station. It was a small night market compared to the other ones, but apparently famous. Afterward, I went to the bars around Taipei 101. Can’t remember the names, but it was pretty much the bar/club area around there.

Tamsui Village

Tamsui Village

Sunset at Tamsui Village

Sunset at Tamsui Village

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

Day 2: Metro up north to the seaside village of Tamsui, which you can get to as there’s a station of the same name.  There, I mainly walked around in the afternoon, and waited around for the nice sunset. For dinner, I metroed to the Shilin Night Market which was on the same line as Shilin Station and had grilled vegetable beef there, which was decent. This night market was definitely a lot bigger than the Tonghua one. Most of the food stalls are located in the basement floor of the main building which is a little further back if you’re coming from Shilin station. Just keep walking towards the big warehouse.

Inside a Taiwanese train

Inside a Taiwanese train

Monkey inside Taroko Gorge

Monkey inside Taroko Gorge

Day 3: I woke up very early

Tiansiang Temple in Taroko Gorge

Tiansiang Temple in Taroko Gorge

in the morning to take an 8am train to Taroko Gorge. The train took about 4 hours, and I got into Hualien Train Station at around 12pm, which was just in time for the shuttle bus that takes you from the train station to the gorge at around 12:20pm.  There are many hikes that one can do in Taroko Gorge, but I took the shuttle bus all the way to the last stop called Tiansiang, which took 2 hours total. At Tiansiang, I had lunch where the bus dropped us off at, and began hiking to the nearby hiking path that takes you through all these different tunnels. It was a gorgeous hike. In fact, I was super impressed at just how stunning Taroko Gorge was. Next time, I would probably just rent a bike and stay the night. I got scared away by people saying how dangerous it is, but from what I saw on the bus, it was not dangerous at all. Along the hike I got to see some gorgeous sceneries and even some local wildlife.  There’s a suspension bridge as you walk towards the water curtain cave that has a minor waterfall behind it. I did the entire hike in about 2 hours there and back, and made it back to the bus stop to catch the 4:15pm bus back to the train station, and caught the 6pm train back to Taipei. That night, my friend and I went back to the Taipei 101 bar area and did all you can drink at the newly opened club there called Hive. Let’s just say we got our money’s worth. Not as epic as Korea, but it did its job well.

Day 4: Spent the day just chilling at where I was staying cuz it was mainly just too hot to do anything. That evening, we went to a nearby night market-ish place around Ximen station, and had a traditional Taiwanese soul food, which was rice with meat. For a dollar and a half, it was pretty good. That night, I took the bus at the bus station near the main train station to the airport and ended my brief time in Taiwan.

Where I Visited

Butterfly inside Taroko Gorge

Butterfly inside Taroko Gorge

Waterfall inside Taroko Gorge

Waterfall inside Taroko Gorge

Inside Taroko Gorge

Inside Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge: Contrary to what you might read on the internet, Taroko Gorge is totally doable in a day. Just make sure you get an early enough train to Hualien Station so that you can catch that noon shuttle bus, as it only runs 3 (or 4) times a day. Even better is to rent your own scooter to go at your own speed as the shuttle bus doesn’t stop everywhere, and waste the first hour just driving around the city. While I did say it is doable in a day, know that you won’t have enough time to do every hike or see everything. I was only able to do one of Tiansiang’s trail. Ideally, if I was to do it again, I’d rent a scooter, travel around Taroko Gorge, get myself a hostel at one of the youth hostel there in Tiansiang, and then use the next day to see some more stuff, and finally return the motorbike to head back to the train station. Taroko Gorge was really beautiful. The air was clean, and if it’s a sunny day, you can get to see the scale of it all and see what nature had done. Rating: Must do.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market

Taipei City: Taipei City is where you are flying into. Pro-tip: If you can, fly into Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA). It’s next to the city and is only maybe 15-20 minutes away. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), the main airport, is about 1 hour away from the main city. Overall, Taipei City doesn’t really have that much to do or see in terms of beautiful buildings or must see landscape. But what it lacks in beauty it makes up in the abundance of cheap, good food. This is definitely an eater’s city. Walk along any street in any part of the city and you’ll see food everywhere. The main attraction for locals and tourists alike are the night markets. There are a lot of them, so take your pick. From the three that I’ve seen, they’re just a smashgasmic orgy of restaurants and food carts, mixed with random clothing stores, with a little bit of carnival games sprinkled on top. If you don’t like food, don’t come here. If you love food like myself, consider this your mini mecca. The nightlife is decent. I went only to two bars and a club, so I can’t say how the rest are, but from what I’ve seen, the reputations that I had heard about Taiwanese parties have been greatly exaggerated. It’s no Korea or Hong Kong. (Popular clubs of the past like Muse were shut down when I went) Rating: Should do.

Where I Stayed

For my entire time in Taiwan, I stayed with a friend of mine near the Main Station. As such, I can’t really give you guys a review of it and hope you stay there, but just as a shout out, my friend was an awesome guest. Gave me his bed, and took me to get all his favorite eats (which turned out to be my favorite eats as well). If you happen to stay with John, you’re in for a treat. His apartment, while small, has AC and is conveniently a 10 minute walk from the bus and main train station. Rating: Should stay.

Final Commentary

Inside Taroko Gorge

Inside Taroko Gorge

Like I said in the beginning, my time in Taiwan was very brief, but I really enjoyed what I saw and experienced. I think if I was to go back to Taiwan, I’ll explore the eastern side more as well as the southern beaches. The closure of the bigger more famous clubs really hurt Taipei’s nightlife, but hopefully newer and better clubs will take their spots in the future. But for now, don’t expect too much from it. Taiwan is a small island country with a big heart. The people were courteous and I did not experience any rude moments in my time there. English signs were everywhere, and when lost, just ask, someone is bound to help you. It isn’t the best country in Asia, or even my top 5, but I would visit again if someone pays for my ticket. I wouldn’t if I had to pay for it myself.

Country Rating: B

 

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