Ni hao from Taiwan!
Taiwan isn’t a country by the UN’s measure, but it is by most of the world’s, so it was definitely on the list. I’m severely disappointed to be in Taiwan (and subsequently Japan and Korea) and missing baseball season. I don’t think anyone who even just kind of knows me would be surprised at how much I want to see baseball culture on this side of the world. I guess I’ll just have to come back in the summer.
I had been running around from place to place in Laos, so I decided to spend my short time in Taiwan just in Taipei, rather than darting around the small island.
The biggest shock of Taiwan was the temperature. Toto, we aren’t in Southeast Asia anymore. New item on the top of the list – find a warmer coat.
It was cold and rainy the entire visit to Taipei, but that didn’t keep anyone inside. I explored the city seeing the typical big city sights – national monuments and museums. The structures are stunning in their intricacy to detail. And because of the weather, I assume, the public areas were quiet. All of the streets were, in general, quiet. I expected busy, bustling city madness and instead it was organized, calm and stress-free.
Until you got to the night markets. Nearby the hostel was a great night market that we visited every night. Your pick of what to eat, very random shopping, and arcade games. A great combination. In one place you can get hot, cheap, freshly made food and then duck inside to play robot soccer. One thing you won’t find in the night markets of Taiwan are “big size” shoes (US 9, for the record). My sneakers are not at all waterproof, which hasn’t been a problem until now, so I thought I’d try to pick up a cheap pair to get me through the rain in Taiwan and snow in Japan. But after about the 40th shop I checked in, the lady told me I would not find “big size” in Taiwan. They just don’t have them.
Two of the biggest draws in Taipei both involve going up very high to get a good view – the observation deck of Taipei 101 and Monkey Mountain. But with cloudy grey skies, neither held any really appeal for the week. I tried to get a reservation at the secret Starbucks in the Taipei 101, but while I was waiting for the weather to change, I ran out of time. This is a Starbucks that requires reservation a day in advance, but gets you to the 28th floor of the Taipei 101, with a stunning view and you only have to [shucks] get a coffee and bakery treat. The observation deck is much higher and not much more expensive, but neither seemed worth it without visibility.
I also spent some time getting a bit creative – the hostel was looking for someone to paint the door and the direction they gave me was “young and fun” and showed me the supplies they had. So now I am officially a paid artist, and am quite happy with how it came out, especially since it was free-hand.
Painting is something I have always wished I was good at. My brother has mad painting skills, but mine are limited to one-dimensional shapes. The longer I am away, the more I find my creative muscles being flexed and strengthened and it has been showing up in surprising ways.
Another surprise in Taiwan was the opportunity to be featured in a video for YouTube channel STOP KIDDIN’ STUDIO. Johnny makes awesome videos and has over half a million followers and when we got to chatting, he said he wanted to do one on my story.
Extensive travel, especially solo, can be seen as a very Western thing, so it was great to talk about travel and going after big goals with a brand new audience. I’m excited to welcome my new Taiwanese followers and enjoyed reading through all of the comments on the video, even if it meant getting nice and cozy with Google Translate.
Taipei 101, I’ll see you during baseball season!