I arrived early in the morning. By the time I got my bag and found a taxi it was 1 a.m. The taxi I ended up getting was an unmarked black car. It was pretty sketchy but I had read that Taiwanese people are super honest and friendly. So, I went with it. Probably not the best idea ever, but I kept my bags with me just in case and not in the trunk. I ended up at National Taiwan University safely.
I got dropped off at the front gate. It’s kind of hard to explain where you want to go when you do not speak the language. P,us, the instructions I was given were only in English. Luckily a security card had a translator in his phone. He was kind enough to type out all the directions and then convert it to English. I had to walk all the way across the campus in the early morning hours with all my shit. It was great :).
I woke up in my empty dorm room. I decided that I need to get out and walk around before my orientation later that day. When I walked out of the dorm towards the street the first thing I heard was this loud obnoxious roar, then I saw it. Literally, around 100 motorbikes had just taken off from the red light. It was a crazy sight. I’m in Asia.
The next day the College of Management had a tour of Taipei planned for all exchange students enrolled in their college. We hit all the big tourist attractions in Taipei in one very long day.
National Taiwan Museum
This is a place where you can see a sub-par piece of jade carved to look like a cabbage and rock polished to look like pork!
When Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan with the Republic of China government during the communist revolution in China, they took with them a ton of Chinese historical art pieces to protect them from being destroyed. All of these artifacts are housed inside of National Taiwan Museum.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is not only a huge transfer station on the MRT it is an Abe Lincoln Memorial like statue of Chiang Kai-shek and below is a museum where you can see some historical photos. But, more instesting is his cars on display and replicas of his favorite meals. I kid you not!
A lot of Taiwanese people where taking selfies with this portrait, so I took one too.
Taipei 101 is the only image that comes up when you search Taipei online. It is the symbol of not only the city, but the country as a whole. If you come to Taiwan you just have to go. You can go up to a three story observation deck. One floor is the main floor with glass all around, then there is a lower floor to view the damper, and you can even go on the roof of Taipei 101 to enjoy the view without all the smudges and fingerprints on the glass.
Taipei 101 from the ground up
Din Tai Fung
Some really good dumplings. Wasn’t aware this was a chain though! I could have just went to LA if I wanted to try it 😉 However, I got to say that I really did enjoy this place. I was able to find better dumplings elsewhere later in the exchange for much cheaper at a nice hole in the wall restaurant.
The last place on our agenda for the trip around the city was Roahe Night Market. This is probably the most popular night market. It’s hard to say which is the best. The different night markets have different atmospheres and offer a different assortment of things. Taiwan is famous for night markets, so if you go, and you are interested, I recommend see as many as you can.
Taipei Zoo & Maokong Gondola
The next day after the orientation I met up with some people to go check out the Taipei Zoo and the Maokong Gondola.From the dorms we could walk across campus and get to the MRT (subway) on the green line at the Gongguan station. Or, we could walk two blocks the other way and get on the MRT on the brown line at the Technology Building station. To get to the the Taipei Zoo we have to take the brown line.
The brown line is not like the other MRT lines in a few ways. It has the smallest train cars, the train cars are driver-less, and it is above ground. It’s a pretty enjoyable ride because you can actually see Taipei out the window. Getting to the zoo is easy. The brown line drops you off right next to the main gate.
The zoo in Taipei is extremely cheap! It’s like two bucks, but with our student IDs it was even cheaper. Realize though that the zoo is just a zoo like any other. It was interesting to see the section of just Taiwanese animals though. My favorite picture from the zoo is this of the Formosan Black Bear.
Right next to the Taipei Zoo is the Maokong Gondola. The gondola was pretty fun. You use the same EasyCard you use to get around on the subways and buses to take it. It is extremely cheap as well.The gondola is a long ride up the mountainside that takes you up and down and then up some more all the way until you get to the top. Make sure to get one of the crystal bottom cars, they cost the same.