As you might have gathered I spent the last week on a work trip to Taipei. I’ve never visited Asia before so this was pretty awesome! I flew out with another guy from work on Friday evening so we had Sunday and Saturday evening for sightseeing. Sunday was mostly spent wandering around the city, visiting temples and other sites, and then riding the Maokong Gondala to a tea growing area on a nearby mountain. Unfortunately the view was mostly obscured by mist and rain.
The first four days it rained constantly. Never torrential but was more of a persistent heavy drizzle. This actually turned out to be a bit of a blessing, especially for our sightseeing day, as later in the week when the sun came out the 33 degree with near 100% humidity outside was almost unbearable. 20 degrees in light rain was comparatively pleasant.
Exploring by night was a lot of fun. We visited a couple of night markets which you can see in the photos below. It felt quite safe being out and about and everyone was really friendly. No drunk people either, which is more than can be said for the flight back to England.
On Wednesday evening, the first dry period, we went up the Taipei 101. It’s only the third tallest building in the world but claims to have the fastest elevator. On the 91st floor there’s an open air viewing gallery which was remarkably pleasant given the temperature at street level. Here’s the view out over the city:
Although I’ve been learning (written) Chinese for ~18 months I only know simplified characters which I thought wouldn’t be much help in Taiwan. But I was pleasantly surprised that I could read quite a lot of signs, metro station names, etc. Often you can apply transforms get the simplified character you know from the traditional one. E.g. 言, 門, 金, etc. are all replaced fairly consistently when they appear as components in other characters. Menus were a bit of a fail however: turns out knowing “beef”, “lamb”, and so on doesn’t really help knowing what the food actually is. At least you can avoid things containing 足 “foot”, 头 “head”, and other suspicious body parts.