With only two days in Taipei, I don't have a lot of time to really explore. So I had worked out an hourly plan to get me everywhere on time.
I slept in a bit because I stayed up late talking with someone else staying at the hostel, who also teaches English. But I still made it to my first destination only 30 minutes late. That would be the Taipei Discovery Center located in City Hall, right next to Taipei 101.
The Discovery Center is a three-floor museum that aims to teach a bit about the history and current state of the city. It manages to tell tiny pieces of stories, but it feels like there should be more. For example, there is an exhibit on waste management in Taipei, which tells just a little bit about a law passed a few years ago requiring a charge for using throw-away plastic bags. The display seems to indicate that the law alone directly and indirectly caused a 67% drop in annual burnable waste. But it's free and worth a quick stop. One of the volunteers was very helpful and recommended a bunch of places to go, though many I won't be able to do on this trip.
Of course, my next stop was the top... of Taipei 101. At about $14, this is my most expensive non-amusement park admission ticket. And of course, being that it's a summer holiday Sunday, there were lots of tourists wanting to go to the top at the same time I did. It was about a 30-40 minute wait to get to the elevator. While waiting they take your picture in front of a green screen so you can pay a lot of money for your image in front of the building at day and night. I'm not sure why they made everyone go individually - wouldn't there be more interest in getting group shots?
When I first entered the line there was a woman directly in front of me. At some point a guy behind me in line decided he was going to try to cut in front of me. Taiwanese people do this ALL THE TIME. At stores, getting on the train, you name it. In general, Chinese people are very rude and self centered. I'll get into this more at some point, but back to my story. The guy just tried to slip past me in line like he was entitled to it. He stayed next to me in line, trying to fully get ahead of me, for several minutes. At one point he tried rocking from side to side to get me to give up my spot. He would whistle some annoying stupid tune too. But I held firm and eventually cut him off around a corner. Then I just made sure I didn't give him any room to get past me again. If I knew some Chinese I would have told this guy off. Would it have mattered if I had let him go in front of me? In this case, yes. I was the last one I get on my particular elevator.
But I got to the top of the tower in under a minute and took a good number of pictures. Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw a picture from the top. The weather was pretty nice at that point.
It was hot as a crotch today (just like every day in Taiwan!) but I decided to walk to the golf ball mall (Core Pacific City). It's nothing special, except there's a giant 10 story ball in one third of the building, and half the mall is inside it. I wanted to see it up close, so I took the 20 minute trek to check it out. Also, since it's a mall, I also had lunch. They have a decent food court in the bottom floor. McDonald's and Subway in addition to several Asian restaurants. I saw a shabu shabu place and a hibachi style grill. I also tried out some of Taiwan's massage chairs up on the sixth floor.
My favorite massage chair to date is a Panasonic model. It just hits me right in all the right spots. But there's a Taiwan company called Nikko, if I remember right, that had a fantastic chair as well. If I see another one I have to give it another go. After a full week of amusement rides and lots of walking (my second pair of walking shoes this year are already falling apart) it was a pleasant fifteen minutes.
Unfortunately, the rain started. And kept going. Pretty hard. I needed a taxi to get to the Miniatures Museum anyway, and got there in no time. It's a
Few bucks to get in, but it's worth it. Sure, there are some things that look like glorified dollhouses, but there are some awesome scenes from all over the world and some famous mouse-related movies. It was pretty busy there, surprisingly, though it was Sunday on a summer holiday.
Again my original plan called for a taxi to take me the 4 km or so over to the Lin An Tai Old Homestead. It was still raining when we arrived (which took quite some time, because my taxi driver didn't know where exactly this place was since its in the middle of a park. The homestead is a really nice complex, with gardens, outbuildings, and a tea mountain to explore. I saw all of this while getting fairly wet, since I spent most of the time outside. But again, it was a nice location and turned out better than I expected, other than Mother Nature.
The rain finally stopped as I left Lin An Tai for the Taipei Story House. This is on the other side of the park, and signage is minimal, so I had a little bit of trouble figuring out which way to go. Time was getting short but I managed to arrive at the house on time. I decided to skip going in the house, though, and instead visited the Fine Arts Museum next door. The exhibits were pretty nice and focus on contemporary art. I saw a nice collection of minimalist paintings, a style I really like. You can blame Looney Tunes for that!
Again, time was not on my side as I walked another long distance past the MRT station to the Confucius Temple. I must not be meant to visit these, because I once again got there just after closing time. The gates were still open and I was able to take some quick pictures, but I couldn't visit the inside of the temple.
Now, due to the heavy rain, tonight's baseball game was canceled but I went to the stadium anyway. A quick stroll around the grounds and a few photographs later I was back on the MRT headed for dinner.
I won't get into it too much, but I Ate at Modern Toilet, a themed restaurant. You sit on toilets, eat on a glass tabletop over sinks, and are served food in little toilet bowls. I had the spicy Sichuan pork hot pot. Originally they brought me chicken curry, which was kind of blah - since I never had hot lot I didn't realize what I had and it didn't look like my curry anyway. They realized the mistake though and eventually I had my spicy pork. Unlike the curry, this was pretty good. I don't have anything to compare it to, but I was certainly happy. My meal came with a drink (I had green tea) and ice cream. Again, Facebook buddies saw my picture from the restaurant.
I was in Ximending, the hot teen fashion capital of Taiwan. I literally said to myself as I walked off the subway escalator, "Wow, I'm in Taipei's Shibuya!" I didn't spend long here, as I wanted to get to Shilin night market in another part of town.
Night markets are crazy, busy places like Ueno's big shopping street. Most of the stuff for sale is clothes, souvenirs, or snack foods. I saw a good variety here though and found a couple cheap souvenirs and gifts.
I didn't get home til 1am, on one of the last trains I think. It's now almost 2am and I'm exhausted so I'll end with that.
Not sure what I'm doing tomorrow by the way. I planned to go to Hualien but I might skip out and chill for the day.