When I booked the trip to Taipei I knew that I had to visit the National Palace Museum. Beyond that I had no expectations. This is why it’s sometimes better to go into a situation with no expectations – I really liked Taipei. It was clean, less chaotic, and people followed traffic rules (whether on foot or car/scooter). The weather was beautiful the entire weekend and weather can make or break a trip in my opinion. I don’t want to use the word uncivilized or civilized to compare China and Taiwan but I can’t think of better adjectives.
Having survived the food tasting from the night before with no intestinal issues we were ready for the museum. We got a later start than I wanted and was worried about crowds but it was fine. We took the Metro and then a short taxi ride to the museum. The museum is the only thing I had previous knowledge about. Without going into a history lesson (and possibly getting myself into trouble with the government) let’s just say that the Taiwanese got the good stuff from the mainland. You can read all about the history yourselves. The museum lived up to my expectations and was filled with amazing artifacts from China’s looooong history. Everything was displayed beautifully. All the literature and explanations were in Chinese as well as English. It was the main reason I joined Anders on his trip and I was not disappointed.
We attempted to go to the observation deck of Taipei 101 but were foiled. Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building from 2004-2010. I like to get to the highest point of any place I visit but sadly so did everyone else and I had to be content seeing it from our hotel room. Anders took me to our favorite dim sum restaurant as a consolation prize and it worked, I was quite happy when we left Din Tai Fung. We did some shopping and walked around the downtown area to enjoy the relatively quiet atmosphere.
Anders had to work Monday so I was left to my own devices until I had to leave for the airport at 12:00. I had planned on shopping for a bit before I was to leave so I got myself out at 9:45. It seemed a bit quiet and I noticed that there weren’t may people out and about as I walked to the shopping area. I just thought that Taiwanese weren’t early risers. The shops weren’t open and I took my sad self back to the hotel and to my laptop to find out if there was a holiday that I somehow missed in my pre-trip planning. Guess what? Shops in Taiwan don’t open until 11:00!!! That would make me crazy if I lived there. I mean, I’m home by 11:00 most times I go shopping.
On Sunday from the museum to the metro station I got talking to our taxi driver. I managed to negotiate a fair price for him to take me to the airport the next day. It was a first for me and I figured that if it didn’t work out (e.g., he didn’t show up on time, he charged me an exorbitant fee, or robbed me and left me on the side of the highway all chopped up in little pieces :-)) it would be a lesson learned. I had a good feeling about him though so I went with it. So glad I did. On the drive to the airport we chatted the entire time, about 75% in Chinese and 25% in English. He told me that Italian is his second language. Italian? How/why does a taxi driver from Taiwan speak Italian? I asked the obvious question if his wife was Italian. Nope. He was a roller-skating champion when he was a teenager and spent 5 years living and training in Milan! When he returned to Taiwan he was a skating coach for years and had only been driving taxi for one year. I pretty much got his life story and he was such a nice man. THAT is why I like to travel. Everyone has a story to tell and given half a chance they love to tell it, and I love hearing them. The more different they are the better.
In the end, I’m so glad I went and would go to back to Taipei in a heartbeat. We should also explore the rest of this island nation. Davey the taxi driver gave me a list of places to visit and he would of course be happy to pick me up from the airport. ;-)
5PM – 71°