Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taipei


After a morning of classes, we boarded the bus and headed downtown to catch a train. When we arrived at the train station, we wondered around the ticketing area in search of any ENGLISH. Seeing that we were confused, a young man asked if we needed any help. We told him where we wanted to go and he offered to help us buy our tickets. Micheal ended up being a great help throughout our trip to Taipei, from boarding the correct train on the right platform to purchasing out MRT Card in Taipei. After arrival, we thanked him and got his phone number so that we could meet up and buy him a drink back in Hsinchu some time!

Once in Taipei, we headed directly to our hostel - Amigo's. This literally hole-in-the-wall place was down a long alley-way out of sight. Nothing fancy of course, but cheap and somewhat clean. We only needed a place to sleep for the night - so Amigo's was the place.


Once we were checked in, we headed back into town to get some dinner. We spent almost an hour in search of the world-famous restaurant Din-Tai-Fung. Once again, Taiwan maps are unreliable...even those maps printed by the city of Taipei do not match the roadsigns posted in Taipei!! After circling back down the street it was to be on, we finally stumbled upon a crowd of people waiting outside the restaurant. As a hostess approached us and asked if we'd like to order, we asked what the name of the restaurant was...EUREKA!


The wait was about 45 minutes, but was well worth it for the meal...hand-made dumplings, rolls, and noodles! Super yummy! The best part was that it only cost us about $18.50US! A steal for such a wonderful meal!


Next we headed to the famous Taipei 101...what used to be the tallest building, now just shy of the Burj Dubai. As you could have guessed, the building has 101 floors. The bottom 5 floors are an upscale mall...places we never would want to nor could afford to shop! The 5th floor is where you catch the fastest elevator in the world to the 89th floor - a total ride of 40 seconds. Once at the 89th floor, you're free to roam the 88th & 89th floor as well as take the stairs to the 91st floor where, if the weather is suitable, you can visit the outdoor observatory. This was an amazing experience, as you are able to feel the strength of the wind and see the city minus the glare of the multi-paned glass.

We ended our day with a stroll through a famous night market near our hostel...were we were able to get a late night doughnut snack! =)

Sunday morning, we ventured our for some breakfast before checking out of our room. We found this cute little shop and hand danbing - a traditional Taiwanese breakfast egg omelet/tortilla type thing - along with my favorite nai cha or tea with milk. After eating, we headed back, only to find that we were completely turned around and had no map with us! It took us 2-3x longer to return but we finally found the hostel. We checked out then headed to our first stop for the day "Museum of World Religions." As we again struggled with inconsistencies on our many maps, we found that we were headed right back to where we had just been lost earlier in the morning! The museum is located on the 7th floor of a building, and isn't that easy to find - but once found, is a great way to spend an afternoon. There are 2 floors dedicated to the museum that feature artifacts and information for 10 of the world's most followed religions.
After the museum, we hopped back on the MRT and headed to the 2-28 Peace Park. This park is a memorial to a massacre that began on February 28, 1947 (hence the name). This massacre led to the start of Taiwan's martial-law era. The park is a beautiful place with numerous paths and patches of grass (although some dead due to lack of adequate rain) and a number of monuments and sculptures. We spent time just wondering around the park and relaxing.



Our final stop for the day was the Longshan Temple. We strategically planned our visit for 5pm, when hoards of people come to worship. As we arrived, there were a number of stalls set up outside the temple gates selling fruit, flowers, and incense. Upon entering the temple gates, there is a man-made waterfall with loads of fish - which Dan loved! Entering the temple, there are yet more incense and other worship memorabilia for sale. As we walked in, we began to hear the chanting...people from all walks of life come to worship a number of different deities. Most people worship Guanyin, the central Deity, however the temple enshrines 165 others.

As the rain began to fall, we sat in awe of this spectacular event. We marveled at the number of people and the abundance of food offerings. It was a great way to end out time in Taipei...upon leaving we headed back to the train station for some dinner and awaited our train.

Check out more photos on the photo page!

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