"When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky"
-Guatama Siddharta

Over and under and up and down...sunshine and thunder...a laugh and a frown!

Monday, August 3, 2015

What's a girl to do with a 20 hour layover?!

8/3/15

Time to go Exploring!
The first official day of the journey! I'm excited though I'm not sure that it's really hit me, the magnitude of what's about to happen. Even boarding the plane to Taipei it didn't fully sink in, I mean, I've been to Taipei before so perhaps that was delaying my freak out moment. That all changed when I landed. I didn't freak out but I felt that sense of adventure that I've been craving for so long. I felt like a piece of me that I lost a long ass time ago, for reasons so stupid I won't even humor them on this blog, was reignited. I felt alive. I'm ashamed to admit that I definitely haven't felt "alive" in a really long time either. Maybe I need to travel more :)

Taipei is a fantastic city! I did a lot of the main touristy stuff when I was here over Thanksgiving of last year, so I wanted to try something new this time. Upon recommendation I set out for Tamsui. It's the very end of the red line, a beautiful waterfront community that is bursting with life all along the waterfront. You can walk for miles along that sucker and probably not see everything. My favorite part of Taipei might be the street food, I love it, especially the squid. Yummy! I got right to work filling my belly with some delicious treats. I didn't try anything new this time, I knew exactly what I wanted and I meant business when it came to finding it. I went for the squid and the amazing dessert they have that is like a crepe with 3 scoops of sorbet, some crushed up peanut brittle, and the grand finale ingredient, basil. It's genius!

I walked along this waterfront for hours (let me advise you, pack comfortable shoes in your CARRY ON if you plan to escape and adventure from the airport...I epic failed and was adventuring in my flip flops, while comfy for walking short distances, I walked MILES today, in the blistering sun, which brings me to advice #2).

This is the amazing waterfront walkway, and the breathtaking views

Advice #2 buy sunscreen when you get to Taipei...or bring your umbrella. You laugh, I did too when I first got here and saw swarms of umbrellas. I hate umbrellas. Seriously hate the things, I don't even use them when it rains. Best believe by the end of the day when my skin was screaming from a sunburn (despite my attempts to dive under the overhangs whenever possible) that my happy ass handed over the 100 NTD and am now the proud owner of what I'll be referring to as the SUNbrella.

I laughed at this...and then I became this!
Back to my long walk on the beach...err, wharf. From there I went straight up a mountain, ok maybe it was a large hill, but remember where I said it was really hot and I was in flip flops? Felt like a mountain! I saw a sign for Fort San Domingo and followed it, I had no idea what this was, but it seemed interesting and lots of people were heading in that direction! That's always a really good measure, or a really really bad one, I like to be optimistic! It was interesting, worthy of the hike, meh. It's an old Spanish built fort that was originally built in 1629 (I googled that shit, you think I walk around spinning knowledge like that?!) What totally was worthy of the hike was the accidental stop I made at Aletheia University. Wow, the grounds are stunning. If you're looking for a place to cool off I can't recommend this more, they have massive trees that provide great shade and a beautiful pond with a fountain and fish, it was a great mistake!

Aletheia University, truly a beautiful mistake in my journey!
From there I got slightly...lost. I knew I was going in the right direction I just couldn't find a street that headed downhill to the main road, finally I did after winding down some really pretty (and thankfully shaded) roads!

I watched the sun set (as best as I could, the cloud blocked any chance of seeing an actual sunset) over the water and walked through the streets as the night markets were starting to pick up.

From there I hopped back on the MRT headed back toward downtown Taipei and making a stop at my favorite night market, Shilin. The MRT stop is Jiantan (not the one that says Shilin, I know, those tricky tricksters). You can pretty much buy anything from shoes, knock off purses, amazing food, and probably a kidney if you tried, although I haven't. The night market really kicks up when it starts to get dark. Go there hungry, you won't be sorry. I was still full from the food at Tamsui so I actually didn't buy anything to eat...I did buy the one thing I went there for, my new selfie stick :) Laugh all you want, when you travel alone you get sick of the pictures that are so close that you can see every line, crease, and blemish in your face. I will say, I purchased a selfie stick when I was here last time, but this one has the built in remote...in the handle...total upgrade!
By this time my feet were not only on fire from walking (in flip flops) but I had sunburned the tops of them. Had the Converse store had my size in the new Chuck Taylor II's I would have bought them then and there...alas, the Universe did not want me to have them, and I had to venture a couple more miles in my flip flops.
Advice #3 (I think, I lost count already). Don't get a fresh pedi days before going on a trip where you'll be walking a lot. They scrape all of your built up "cushion" off of your feet, my feet, while soft, are now also rubbed raw. But I have cute toenails. So perhaps the sacrifice is worth it.

I opted to get a hotel room (I had planned this before arriving in Taipei) and after today's adventures I'm so glad that I did. Nothing feels better than getting back to a comfortable room and relaxing, had I not done this I would be heading back to the airport to crash on the floor in a terminal somewhere.

So if you have a long layover in Taipei and you want some tips...here they are:

1. Get the MRT card (I believe it's official name is Easy Card) This thing is amazing, you can use it on the MRT but the convenience stores also take it, so you can load it up, and use it like a debit card. Super convenient. The MRT is VERY affordable and very user friendly. The stops all have maps in English and stop announcements on the train are all made in English at some point.
2. If it's your first time there, plan ahead and really figure out what you want to see, the city is packed full of great things to see/do and a lot of them are spread out, make a plan to make it most effective for the time you have!
3. Eat street food. It's amazing. Why wouldn't you?

Here is what I used:
Airline: EVA (I'm in transit to Thailand and I got an amazing rate from Okinawa to Thailand stopping over in Taipei) They also happen to be a Star Alliance partner which is a bonus, I try to stick with those because of my "status" with United :) Can I just say that I had a 45 minute flight from Oki to Taipei, and they fed us lunch. You can't even get a bag of nuts/pretzels in economy on flights in the US, I got a meal, on a 45 minute flight. I love traveling in Asia!
Hotel: Eclat Hotel (second time I've stayed here, great boutique hotel, amazing location, near Taiepei 101 and close to MRT stations (2 options)
Transportation in the city: MRT and my 2 legs (this city has an amazing transit system!)

Ok I'm exhausted! Off to bed to get up nice and early to head back to the airport (hopefully my luggage is somewhere there, they said it was checked to Bangkok, who knows what that means, to be honest I don't even care!). Thailand tomorrow!

2 comments:

  1. Loved reading this! You are so adventuresome! Love it!!

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    Replies
    1. Debbie, is that you?!
      I'm a total introvert so some things are easier than others :)
      This is like introverted adventure, since I'm traveling alone...ha!

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