This post was written Monday night, in Taiwan.
My day actually isn't quite over. And I'm writing this long before I'll be able to post it. But my first day in Taiwan is mostly over and I have some observations.
First, I visited ShanGriLa Paradise (or is that Paradi?) for a quick ride on their one coaster. The manager at the front office was very nice and went out of his way to ensure my (short) stay went well. I left after about an hour so I think he was worried that I wasn't happy. I told him I had a busy day today, but he gave me two free passes to return sometime. I'm not sure if or when I'll be able to use them but I really appreciate his efforts. (The Blizzard and panda photos are from this park.)
From there it was back north a little ways to Windows On China. There are two coasters and a lot of miniature buildings from around the world. This was the busiest park of the day so I did the bare minimum - one ride on each attraction I wanted. I still spent about three hours there! Taking a lot of pictures didn't help my pace. All my photos are on my camera. So nothing to show you until I do a full report.
I was pressed for time so I hopped in a taxi for a quick ride to the last park - Leofoo Village. I arrived around 4:30 with three coasters and a bunch of other rides to try. The best coaster was closed and the other two were just "meh" as Amanda says, but I really enjoyed some of the flats. The Arabian castle and meteor-carrying coaster photos come from this park.
It took forever to get back to Zhongli to get a train to my next hostel. It's even worse because now I'll be about 1.5 hours late. Thankfully I called the hostel and they'll wait for me.
I've noticed that the people of Taiwan are very friendly, perhaps even more so than Japan. That might be helped by the fact I'm in the country and I've been dealing a lot with people in the amusement business. A nice woman with good English skills helped me when I was on the train between parks one and two. And all the employees at stores have been at least as nice as those in Japan. However, it seems local/commuter train and bus operators aren't too happy with foreigners who don't know the system. They just have this look and attitude that conveys disgust.
And speaking of looks, I don't think foreigners make it to these parts all too often. Kids have been staring at me all day. I get that in Japan sometimes too so I'm not worried about it.
But speaking of transit, getting around by rail here isn't as easy as in Japan.
For one, there's no convenient English router similar to Jorudan. There is a trip planner, but if you're going to or from a local-only train station the router doesn't seem to cover switching to save time.
Secondly, signage is a bit weak. Even in Chinese it looks like there's a lack of information available. Granted, there's really just one main loop around the island, but I haven't seen information about which stations are served by express or only local trains, for example. I'm sure there is information on the Internet somewhere, but I need something on paper on trips like these.
These are trifles for most tourists, who will use the high speed rail service only to major cities and thus won't worry at all about local buses or commuter trains. But for those who explore off the beaten path, especially on a time budget, these things matter.
I have other topics to talk about, but this post is log enough as it is. So in future updates I'll talk about quick (not fast) food and cell phones. Plus whatever else comes up in the next couple days.
Tomorrow, I will be in Taichung, visiting another nearby amusement park, a couple museums and hopefully my first Taiwan baseball game!
By the way, the guy next to me has no burped audibly twice. Yup.