I have decided that Taipei is awesome.
The touristy things are nice, but that’s not the reason. The weather has been great, but it’s more than just being able to wear shorts in January.
It’s how east meets west. It’s how people offer you directions when you’re hopelessly lost. People here are friendly and helpful and gorgeous and wonderful.
But I’ll move on before I get all teary-eyed. Yesterday was full of adventure. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park, the National Palace Museum, Shilin night market, and dancing, oh my!
CKS Memorial Park is under renovation (and evidently has been for ages), so parts of it are blocked off and obnoxious metal support beams are everywhere. Despite this, it was still beautiful… and entertaining. Evidently the thing to do on a Saturday morning for Taipei youngsters is to practice under the main pavilions with their dance troupe. Hearing Katy Perry as you wander around classic Chinese architecture is disturbing.
The National Palace museum is a little ways off the subway path, but only takes a few minutes on the bus from Shilin station. It’s in a valley with picturesque hills above it.
Inside are three floors chock full of Chinese artifacts made anywhere from the last century to two thousand years ago. My favorite was a Buddha statue of such serenity that I couldn’t help but stare at it for ten minutes.
The Shilin night market is chaos. Food stalls everywhere, clothing shops, and random shit that you didn’t even know you needed. After seeing this and the special new year’s market, I think I can say I’ve experienced night markets and never go again in my life.
To top the day off, I met some awesome girls for dinner and dancing. $17 (or $13 if you’re over 25–curse you, 25th birthday for being 26ish days away) for all-you-can-drink festivities with hawties? Umm yes!! And if you have a great friend like I do that requests the bartender to add “a little bit,” they will literally fill your jack and coke with 90% jack. Needless to say, there were some dorky white girl dance moves that night.
And so, slightly hung over but with many pleasant memories, I leave Taipei for the town of Hualien, gateway to Taroko Gorge. Time to get in some nature. Also, this in the Taipei train station. A children’s music group was setting up instruments nearby for some kind of AIDS-repelling ritual.