OK, so I went to Taiwan over the weekend. Typical Japanese style holiday. Leave Friday night, have fun for a day, then come back the following day. Not my kind of trip, but what can you do?
The weather was notably miserable. Non stop rain for the first ~24 hours after arrival. We went up the famous Taipei 101 nonetheless. Obviously there was nothing to see out the window but clouds. The damper was mildly interesting. The elevator was surprisingly fast, about 60kmph if I recall correctly. However, this did not seem to help with the wait to get on it (15 minutes up and down).
The hotel (Hotel New World) was better than I expected. It worked out at about 7000 yen a night. The only bad thing was the mosquitoes. There were at least 15 of the little buggers, and they kept streaming in from somewhere.
We also went clubbing for a few hours (Room 18). Nothing out of the ordinary there. I was playing around with my camera to avoid dancing with anyone and pass the time. It cost about 2000 yen to get in, with one free drink. Kind of a waste of money but the wife wanted to go….
The food in Taiwan was great. The dumplings and pork buns were the best I have ever had. Midnight snacks from the night markets were also really tasty and crazy cheap. I did notice that there was an abundance of fried foods. Not only the usual ones like chicken, but also bread. I even saw someone wrap some fried bread in more fried bread – for breakfast. Not the most healthy food, but damn tasty.
The second best thing about Taiwan was the taxis. They are so much better than taxis in Japan. They are not only significantly cheaper, the cars are newer, have younger drivers (as in not senile) and like all drivers in Taiwan (Or at least Taipei) ignore most of the road signs. Speed limits do not seem to be an issue, nor do red lights or hundreds of scooters. The base charge was $70 (about 200 yen) – the most we were charged for going across the city was around $200 (600 yen)
One other thing that was annoying other than the weather, was the smell. There were so many new smells. Many were pleasant and interesting, but every once in a while I would come across a smell that would make my insides turn. I came across one such smell at a night market, near where they were selling food. Words could not accurately describe this smell, but if you could image a laundry drain pipe (those that have grey gunk sticking everywhere) filled with the remains of a dead animal that had been left in the sun to ripen, you might come close to the intensity of the smell.
It was not an uncommon sight to see dogs lying around the place. Most were sleeping, but a select few were doing their business on the roads or pavements.
This brings me to the most disappointing part of my trip. Prices of electronic / computer products. I assumed that because many of the computer products I buy come from Taiwan, it would mean they would be cheaper. This was not the case. The SD cards and motherboard I was planning on buying cost almost exactly the same as they would in Japan. So, I ended up not buying anything I had planned on buying. This also sucked because when I changed my Taiwanese dollars back to yen, I lost about 4000 yen due to the exchange rate.
To finish up I should talk about the people. I don’t know how to put this bluntly, but I found the Taiwanese to be extremely pushy. For example. when we were lining up to check our photo (in Taipei 101). Two people pushed right past us without even saying a word, to join their friends at the front of the line. The same behavior was apparent with the traffic on the roads. If you need to get somewhere, just push your way through.
These observations are obviously lacking as I was barely there for two days, but you know what they say – first impressions last. If I were to give the trip a rating from 1 to 10, it would be a 5.5.