For our last day in Taiwan, we went a little outside the city to a small railway line called Pinghsi (or Pingxi, there was no agreement on spelling!) that connected a few tiny towns for a fun day trip. There were about 8 towns on the line, so we visited 3.
First stop was the end of the line at Jingtong. It retained its Japanese-built station, and people could get out and walk to the end of the tracks. The train was about a once-an-hour deal, but Jingtong being the end of the line, stopped there for about 30 minutes, giving us plenty of time to get out and look around a bit.
Next we stopped at the main stop on the line, Shifen (literally the kanji for 10 and minute… weird). This is the site if a famous lantern festival, where thousands and thousands of paper lanterns are released with good wishes written on them for luck. It wasn’t time for the festival, but you could still release a lantern, and a good many people were doing it. We didn’t, because on the train we noticed tons of these lanterns littering the ground. I don’t think they are ever picked up once they fall out of the sky, and we felt a bit bad about that, so we just took pictures instead! We also walked to a nice waterfall for some pictures as well.
By that time it was getting dark. Our last station was Houtong, which was famous for tons of stray cats the locals feed. You can play with the cats, buy food and toys for them, and cat-themed things abound. Unfortunately for us, the later timing meant that things were closing up. We still got to play with some cats, but even getting a snack was a bit difficult. After waiting awhile, we finally got a train to take us back.
And for dinner, we met for the last time the gang, plus Tony’s girlfriend Tomoko was back in town. We ate in an area known as the “Harajuku of Taipei”, at a fantastic seafood restaurant where you could point to the fish/seafood you wanted, and they’d grab it and cook it up for you. It is a close call, but I think it was my favorite food of the trip!
After that, we said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel. I had a pretty early flight the next morning, so I caught a taxi early, while Kenji’s flight wasn’t until later, so he could sleep in. And that concluded our Taipei trip!
On the train
Day 2 started out at the Taipei Main Train Station for an early lunch and a bubble tea to top it off. From there we went to visit Longshan Temple by Metro. Longshan is fantastically decorated, each square inch of the building either beautifully carved wood and stone, or painted and tiled. The building was cacophonous in the best way possible. I LOVED the dragons!
After that, we went back to Taipei 101 to actually go up to the top and the observation deck. We rode the fastest elevator in the world (at least at one point…) to the top, ears popping the whole way, to see the views right around sunset. Although most of the outdoor observation deck was closed, we did get to go out on a small part of it.
And after Taipei 101, we had to scramble to meet the gang out at the Shilin Night Market, where Terry, Tony, and Hugo brought us around to eat the best of the best food on offer. And we both bought shoes too!
Taipei Train Station
At the beginning of January, we decided to take a last minute trip to Taipei, Taiwan since we had free time before school began. We went for about four days and had a fantastic time!
I was able to use Delta miles to book a Business Class ticket roundtrip, which was my first time ever! Kenji, unfortunately, wasn’t able to even get a seat on the plane for a decent price, so he went on a completely separate flight. So we had to coordinate arriving and departing and separate times, which was a little bit difficult, but not too bad.
So on the 3rd, we left for the airport together, but his flight left first, so I hung out in the lounge for a few hours before my flight. And since he arrived before me, he went ahead and checked into the hotel. My flight landed pretty late at night, so the first night we didn’t do anything.
Lounge and snacks at Narita
Our first full day started off with walking from our hotel to the 2/28 Peace Park close to our hotel, after an ok breakfast at the hotel. We continued on to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Plaza, a HUGE place with the memorial, the archway, and the National Theater and National Library on each side. At both of the National buildings there were many separate groups practicing dancing of different kinds, everything from ballroom dancing to jazz to modern. It was fun to watch! The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is free to enter, and features at the top of the steps a statue of Chiang Kai-Shek, guarded by two motionless guards. There are other things in the building, but besides checking out the gift shop and sending a postcard from the post office, we didn’t visit the housed museums.
From there, we grabbed a snack, then went back to the hotel to ask about lunch. We walked in the direction of the hotel’s recommendation, but decided on a basic workers lunch place instead. It was good, if a little difficult with the language barrier. Then, bubble tea!
In the afternoon we took the metro to the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial, in contrast to the Chiang Kai-Shek one. The Sun Yat-Sen Memorial is one building and is close to Taipei 101, which we went to after seeing the memorial. After walking around a bit in the building, we met our friend Terry, and his friends Tony and Hugo at the famous dumpling place at the bottom. We would have gone up the tower, but it was cloudy so we put it off. After eating at the frankly fantastic restaurant, we walked a bit around the area to get drinks at the fancy W hotel, then took the metro to Tony’s apartment. Terry went off to grab some street food, we bought some drinks at a local grocery store, and Hugo got us some tea, and we met up at the apartment to talk and drink and eat before heading back to our hotel after a long day.
Being silly in the morning
It was a good first day!