Two days in Taipei – Taiwan

This was my third visit to Taipei but the first time I spent some time in Taiwan. Briefly, Taipei is a place with incredible architecture, a very different and interesting culture and a lot of things to do.

In this post:

  • Visa – How to apply.
  • Temperature.
  • Where to stay
  • Travelling around (public transport)
  • Safety
  • Temples – Confucius and Longshan
  • Shilin Night Market
  • Taipei 101 & Damper

DSC_0371

Visa

As Brazilian, I have to apply for an entry visa every time I go to Taiwan. Unfortunately,  there is no online application and it need to be done in the Taipei Representative Office/ Embassy. All process takes a week to be complete.

They have always been quite strict with all the documents. The immigration on the Taipei airport is also very strict. Even with the visa in hands, they asked a lot of questions. In the return also it is necessary to pass through the immigration

Temperature

I visited Taiwan in two different seasons: winter and summer.  The winter is very mild but the summer is very hot. The humidity is very high what makes the air heavy and hard to breathe.  While I was there the temperature reached 40°

So, it’s already expected that under this temperature was a bit harder to walk around. Anyway, I got to see the places I’ve planned and I really enjoyed Taipei.

Where to stay?

I stayed at Hotel Mezi. I chose this hotel for being close to the metro station and for being close to most of my places of interest. And honestly, I was very happy with the choice. The location of the hotel is very quiet and at the same time very central, close to the red station which links some of the most important tourist attractions: Taipei 101, Shilin Night Market and Confucious temple. and two stations of the central station that gives access to all other lines.

The hotel was also quite fun and the rooms were themed. My room was from Alice in Wonderland and one of those super-tech toilets that I spent a long time trying to figure out.

The front desk staff was quite friendly. On the price of the hotel, it was included breakfast with French toast, salad, and juice.

Traveling – Public transport

The metro in Taiwan is great, very organized, fast, easy to travel and clean. The service is great even on Sunday, you will not spend more than 5 minutes wait to the train.  You can check the metro map here

Ticket options

There are some ticket options available:

  • 24h tickets are available for NT$150 (4.17 EUR).
  • 48h tickets are available for  NT$280 (7.80 EUR)
  • 72h tickets are available for  NT$380 (10.58 EUR)

And what’s the thing with these people and kitten?

From the airport to the city – or the other way around. Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR) – SAVE MONEY!

The taxi from the Hotel to the airport would cost around  NT$1,500 (41.00 EUR) but there is a High-Speed train option to go to the Airport for NT$116 (3.23 EUR)

The only problem would be getting to the station with the luggage. I made the whole way on foot without the suitcases and it was a fair distance to walk with heavy belongs. So, I took a taxi from the hotel to the closest metro station (the one closest to the North Gate) . The price was NT $ 90 (9.26 reais / 2.50 EUR).

It was a very fast and easy trip to the airport and an economy of 3.27 EUR.

Safety

I’m always very careful about safety.  I always avoid going out when it’s dark – especially in a strange country. But I really wanted to go to the night market and I would have to go alone. I asked around whether the place was safe for a woman to walk alone at night and the response was always extremely positive.

So decided to go, and incredibly I saw many women walking alone in dark and empty areas.  However, even in a safe place is always wise to be alert. Better safe than sorry.

Must go temples

I always imagined temples as a peaceful place, surrounded by green, butterflies and wrapped in mysticism and magic … The reality as always is a little tougher than our imagination. Both temples I visited were surrounded by buildings, people in a hurry, cars, buses, restaurants, and people with  angry closed.

But almost like magic, as I entered the temples, it was as if the whole world had stayed behind.

Taipei Confucious temple

Inside the temple was a lake with turtles, trees and of course the temple itself with a burnt red roof full of gold detail.

IMG_3118.jpg

While I was resting and hiding from the heat in the shade, a person came to close the patio doors. The venue was being closed for a performance and the people inside were able to watch and record the event.  The temperature was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t record it without shaking and I couldn’t get to the end.  In any case, I managed to capture much of the performance:

After this, I visited the souvenir shop and bought a wooden sign where I should write a wish and leave it with several other wishes that would go through a prayer at the end of the day. It was hard to choose a wish. My wish was made in Portuguese and it means: I wish to always look the bright side of everything

DSC_0555

And now some pictures of the temple:

DSC_0500

 

DSC_0526DSC_0516DSC_0549DSC_0496DSC_0502DSC_0515

Longshan Temple of Manka

While the temple of Confucius was a quiet place, the temple of Longsham was a place full of people and full of faith. As soon as I entered I was surprised by the amount of people praying between incense and images.

The details of the buildings were unbelievable. A beautiful place that will definitely stay in the memory as a place of faith.

IMG_3134 (1)DSC_0590DSC_0586DSC_0569DSC_0570DSC_0585

 Shilin Night Market

Go to the Jiantan station, follow the direction of the night market on the metro signs to put you in the right direction. After passing the subway ratchet, proceed to the first traffic light and cross the street. Despite having some food stalls this is not yet the market. Keep walking on the same street and you will see the entrance to the market where you will see the sign: ‘Shilin Market’

DSC_0435

As a vegetarian I was afraid to eat anything n the market but some food looks very good and different. Bt I play safe, I ended up going on 7-eleven and eating some chips.

DSC_0441
Food you can buy in the Night Market

Besides the options of food some unusual activities happen in the night market, like this for example:

Taipei 101

DSC_0392

 

Taipei 101 is an unbelievably tall skyscraper with 101 floors and was the tallest building in the world until 2010.

It is possible to go to the top by a super fast elevator that travels at 60.6 km / h. From above it is possible to have a 360 view of the entire city of Taiwan coming up to see where the city ends.

The architecture of the building is quite different and quite modern. Inside is a shopping center with several upscale shops.

 

 

Damper

At the top and center of the building there is a huge ball that weighs 660 tons that works like a pendulum. The purpose of this is to neutralize the effects of wind and earthquakes to avoid compromising the structure of the building.

damper

Credit: Taipei 101

damper2

Credit: wikimedia

I spent a lot of time looking and wondering how it got there? And that fear when you think it’s on the 101st floor of a building, along with shops, people and an iron ball that weighs 660 tons. Not nice!  To make it even worse, they show you a video showing the moment of an earthquake and how pendulum works – and it happens with several people on the spot. Very scared. Another video at the time of an earthquake.

True or not – I could swear that the building was shaking while I was there…

Way back

The airport

The best boarding gate ever

Buying food at the airport

I bought some food for a friend but unfortunately, I could not pass through the immigration of the Netherlands. I had already been informed in Taiwan while buying the gift, that food with pork did not pass in the Dutch immigration. So I bought a product without this ingredient, but the bag was not sealed and the product label was entirely in Chinese, the product was thrown away.
If they buy something, check that the bag is closed.

See ya next time Taiwan…