MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

Made in Taiwan

If I hadn't been caught up with trying to finish all my posts on Tokyo, I might probably have analysed our trip to Taipei in July a little more. The fact that in the scale of things, Taiwan is actually quite a small country seemed to work in our favour and the close proximity of places meant we didn't waste much time traveling within the city of Taipei in our ten day visit.

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At last, I could put a face to the phrase "Made in Taiwan" which labeled practically everything I bought growing up.

Taiwan Airport

We landed at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport and it was a relatively straightforward affair to catch a bus to Taipei Main Station, one stop from Ximen which was where our hotel was conveniently located. The bus cost us NT$125 (£2.30) each, with the journey taking under an hour.

EasyCard for Transport in Taiwan

Once at Taipei, we made our way towards the MRT and our first transaction was for two EasyCards - Taiwan's equivalent of Hong Kong's Octopus Card and Tokyo's Suica Card- and another convenient device that was to meet our transport needs for the next ten days. Like the others, the card cost covers a deposit (NT$400) and an initial credit of NT$100 (£1.80).

On the MRT, we only had to find the right platform - easy with the clear English signs, and nothing compared to Tokyo's complex subway system(!) - and travel one stop to Ximen before we faced the hot and humid retail streets of the Ximending shopping district.

The King Shi Hotel in Ximen

In Taipei, we stayed at the King Shi Hotel which was recommended by a friend. It's an unusual set-up since the hotel takes up two floors (7th and 8th) of a block, but being less than a ten minute walk from the conveniently located Ximen MRT station, with the streets of Ximending in between, really made a difference. Especially since in Hong Kong, living out in our New Territories village means waiting for and traveling on a bus that could take anything between 20-45 minutes to get to the nearest rail station.

The photo at the top of this post shows the view from our 8th floor room. The billboards in the distance at the top left are actually located at Ximen Station.

First Impressions

Since we arrived in Taipei in the afternoon, we were left with the evening which we used to explore Ximending nearby. Our first impressions however, were that the streets of Taipei seemed very similar to Hong Kong with the volume of bikes on the road reminding me of Vietnam. There were nowhere near as many motorbikes as Saigon, but to me, they were still noticeable - far more than Hong Kong - with numerous bike parking areas.

With Taipei, because we were in a new foreign country, our expectation was to face a completely foreign culture. However, even if the people of Taiwan prefer to be identified as Taiwanese, the link to China (and the Chinese culture) is undeniable. For me personally, that's where it ends, since my mandarin is very basic to say the least.


This entry posted in : Culture. Taiwan.

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