East Asia has had a top spot on my travel list for a long time, especially Japan and South Korea. Japan is a bigger project for the future. So, in spring I had time and money on hand for about 6 weeks of travelling; off to South Korea, and what else? A small island between South East Asia and China caught my eye while checking out the closest countries on the map; let’s go to Taiwan!
Time to broaden my knowledge about Taiwan beyond that of the movies of Hou Hsiao-Hsien. So it wouldn’t be too hot in Taiwan and not too cold in South Korea, I first booked the flight to Taiwan, for two weeks; from there return flight to South Korea, three weeks. On the 9th of April with two stopovers 22 hours to Taipei.
Day 1 – Taipei
[ Your luggage has not arrived yet, I was welcomed at the luggage claim by a sign on the belt after a relaxed flight. Shit happens; short conversation with the airport employees, then with unusual light baggage with the super-modern MRT into the city. Eyes wide open, brows tense with anticipation. In the Shilin quarter out of the metro; the girl from the hostel tells me, after mentioning my lost backpack, that another guest had to wait two weeks for his bag. Mental note: buy clothes]
Shilin Night Market and Ximen
[ After sleep, shower, nightfall and neon light in the empty hostel; carefully packed photo bag; the Shilin Night Market surprises me right in front of the door. Food, games, couples, souvenirs, bubble tea, wherever you look, wherever you go in Taiwan. Time for a power-up and first Taiwan photos.]
[ Strenghtened and attuned to my camera again, to the city center. A few stations later out of the metro out of the train station. First persisting impressions: neon lights; oversized billboards, Cyberpunk flair. Short Welcome-Meditation in the park around the Beimen North Gate. Cigarette, camera in the hand, ISO and aperture up and ready into the city. The weight on the right arm once again familiar, high spirits.]
[ After half the night on mosquito hunt, awake in the empty dorm around 12, still tired; hostel also still empty expect the hostel girl. Toast with strawberry jam for breakfast, while setting objectives for the day (Chiang Kai Shek and to the river!). With explorer’s joy out of the hostel into the heat into the metro out of the metro.]
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall with changing of guards
[ Short break; look at the map: river in walking distance? Let’s walk]
[ Way much longer than expected; meditation on arrival on the Tamsui river; hungry along the river to the
Taipeh Artist Village, burger, sunset mood.]
[ Finished the day with another stroll through Ximen; mosquitos on Cinema Square; dancers, rappers, children, tourists; the next big stars.]
[ Dorm still empty, sleep still a little disturbed. Slow start into the day, jam toast, to the museum today. Distance walkable; longer than expected two hours under the sun to the National Palace Museum, Chinese art and Chinese tourists.
With the bus and American and Americanized Taiwanese back to Shilin; Taiwanese explains everything as if we were completely clueless. Together to the Shilin Cixian Temple, bye bye, rain, food, hostel.]
National Palace Museum
[ After 2 weeks round trip, 4 stops, back to the capital for 2 nights. In Korea-mood back to Ximen in the evening; second photographic encounter. Camera in front of the stomach, Spy Mode.]
[ Next day with sympathetic Taiwanese acquaintance from Taichung to Yangminshan on the scooter. The Chinese instant translate app she is using, translates metallically monotonous: I want to show you Yangminshan Mountain. Raining cats and dogs, Do you mind the rain?, she organizes rain capes and rain shoes; first to the former sulphure mines. In fog and Asian rain then up to the top. Next day to South Korea.]
[ Eventful 3 weeks in South Korea later to Taipei for the third time, on the way home. Arriving not easy, 35°, at first almost unbearable, only passing through. A lot of time, meditative, ending mood; go see what I haven’t seen yet. Cool down in the cool dorm, sort the last Korea pictures; in the afternoon to Taipei’s landmark, highest skyscraper Taipei 101; best view from Elephant Mountain, steep ascent, sweat and mosquitos.]
Taipei 101 / Elephant Mountain
[ With one foot already in the plane, on the last day with bus and train to the tea houses of Jiufen; tea house from Spirited Away! View out of the bus station grand; then in the alleys between tourist masses and sellers quickly uneasy; through it all once, exit. Lonely Planet promises more to see; defiant down the mountain on feet; sun burning, heated up, content.]
Jiufen and Keelung
[ Arrived down the mountain on the sea; still time to kill. Keelung, city of the country’s first night market, seems very close on the map; conversation with bus driver and passengers, hands and feet, how do I go there? Up the mountain again, changing bus; two hours through alleys and alleys, 15 km. Last money wisely spent on an abundance of food; back to Taipei with the bus. Farewell-Meditation, high spirits, tense, sleep, and back.]