Time Out in Taiwan

Our trip to Taiwan began with a flourish.  After touching down Taipei we made our way through customs and immigration only to be told that Nicky could not come with us.  As a non-US passport holder, unbeknownest to us, he was required to have a visa to enter Taiwan.  He was taken off to immigration; he told us to go on and have a good trip and he would keep us updated.  With that we trudged on through the airport, got Taiwanese sim cards for our phones, and were on our way.  After checking into the hotel we were off to the Shilin night market to explore and get a sense of the Taiwanese atmosphere.

As a group we all shopped, wandered around, tasted the local street fair, and just relaxed after a long week.  At the market it was fun to see what each vendor was selling.  A shop that specialized in socks was nestled in between one that sold formal floor length dresses and one that sold various types of bags.  The sheer range of diversity we found in the night market was unbelievable.  There were even vendors with their products spread out on blankets on the street trying to catch people’s eyes as they went by.  The number of people who could fit into that size of an area was also overwhelming; stopping to look at something, without moving out of the way of the foot traffic, was dangerous to your wellbeing.  One of the best parts of the night market, however, was the food.  While there I tried some delicious cranberry iced tea and mouth-watering grilled chicken.  The dinner was definitely the best part of the night market.

The next day we visited an ancient temple and then made our way to 228 Memorial Park.  The park was not only a place full of history, but also a great place to relax and just have fun.  We were all enamored by the stone foot “massage” path we came across.  While a few brave souls ventured across, the rest of the group looked on with great amusement as we winced and cursed our way down the path.  Upon completing it though we all felt very proud and only mildly sore.  After that, one would assume that we would be on our way with more culturally and historically important ventures, but, when you put a bunch of 20 something’s in a park with a playground we must try the toys from our childhood.  We all scattered on the playground, some opting for the seesaw and remembering first hand why it is good to not only keep it balanced but also to hold on.  Others enjoyed the swing set, and still others of us climbed the metal structure to see what the park looked like from a higher vantage point.  We had a great time just goofing around and relaxing until Fuji finally asked if we could get on with the important parts of our trip.

Later that day we went to the top of Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan, and until a few years ago the tallest in the world.  To reach the observation deck on the 89th floor you take an elevator, which covers the entire distance in 37 seconds!  The ride was great; however, my ears were not too pleased, as they popped every 10 floors – not the most pleasant experience but well worth it.  From the top you could walk all the way around and see a 360-degree view of Taipei.  Looking down on the city reminded me of the view from the top of the Eifel Tower and how small everything looked from up there.  From the top of the tower we were able to watch the sun set over the mountains.  The sunset was a beautiful ending to a fantastic first full day in Taiwan.

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