It was a really early start to go to Taipei, and I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare thanks to Janny who had arranged a taxi for me.
Going into the airport early in the morning always feels quite strange, but at least there were bright lanterns to greet me. I got through to the departure lounge and discovered a machine selling short duration data SIM cards for various destinations, including Taiwan. The price was a little over a pound a day for a week-long card, a bargain considering how useful online maps are when you’re in a new place.
Once in the air we were provided with this snack pack and a hot meal with rice. I was really surprised as it was only a short flight! By the time these had been given out, eaten and cleared away it was pretty much time to land!
I only had a small backpack, so I got out of the airport quite quickly and found a train to the city centre. The first thing that surprised me about the geography was all of the hills covered in thick forest – I hadn’t realised Taipei was quite so hilly. As we got into Taipei city centre the land flattened out a lot and I managed to get data on my phone, making getting to my hotel a lot easier.
My room wasn’t ready when I arrived, but I was able to drop off my backpack and just take a small bag out to explore a while. I was staying in a busy district famous for its night market, Ximen, so I decided to go out and find some lunch.
I didn’t go far from the hotel, but here was a lot of life in the streets, including street performers and lots of open fronted shops. After a bit of a wander I found a place where I was confident I could order lunch without too much language trouble! My favourite restaurants are often the ones with pictures when I’m abroad.
The noodles hit the spot, and there was a staff member who spoke a little English, which helped me!
I went back to the hotel and settled in a bit, and got my bearings. The hotel was really nice, though my room was tiny it had everything I needed and made good use of the small space. The sun was setting and I decided to go back out and look at the night market.
I didn’t know much about Taiwan at all before I left, and ended up reading about it a bit on Wikipedia before I arrived. The Japanese influences are easily seen in Ximen night market, as there are lots of shops dedicated to various Japanese youth subcultures, not to mention plenty of cute cartoon characters available in giant plush form.
There were lots of people out and about shopping, and to give myself a little task to accomplish I thought I’d look for a few souvenirs.
Much later on I went out to a Japanese restaurant for tea. There are lots of them in Taipei but I just chose one close by.
The currency in Taiwan is the dollar and there are about 40 to the pound. It didn’t make this order card any less scary looking with the prices though. You choose what you want on the menu and tick off the dishes on the order sheet. Mine was easy as I was having a set meal, partly because I couldn’t decide what to have. My meal included sashimi and tempura, which I always enjoy.
After a long day I was happy to go back to the hotel to sleep.