Like most other flights, the time flew by with only 2 hours of being in the air. As soon as we landed, I easily went through immigration, where they added a stamp in my passport to my collection, then I collected my bag from the luggage conveyor belt. I headed outside to find a the bus station, where I sued the machine to purchase a ticket and mounted the bus to Taipei main station.
The drive took about an hour, where the bus was full of people, stopping several times once we were in the city. After, I got lost around the train station trying to find the subway in the huge station. Eventually I found it, where I went one stop to where my hostel was situated. It was inside a sort of mall on the first floor. It was easy to find as I had instructions as well as the address of the property.
I couldn’t check in until later on in the afternoon so instead I put my essential in my handbag and place my other bags in the luggage storage room. I took a map from the front desk and started scanning my eyes across it. I had no idea what I was going to do in this country let alone this city. I wanted to plan my time here so I could make the most of my days. As I was looking at the map, an American, older guy started talking to me, telling me his life story. We spoke for a bit before the conversation closed and I went to the reception area to ask about what to do and see.
A Taiwanese man, not sure if he worked at the hostel, explained places to go in the country what to do in each area as well as what to do in Taipei, the city I was currently in. I knew I wouldn’t have time to travel the whole country even though it is a small one due to the fact that I didn’t book enough days here. I had to decide whether to do a couple of cities properly of scan through the country quickly. I decided to do the former.
Now to make a decision about what I was going to do for the rest of the day. As the hostel was quite central, I wandered around the surrounding area. I walked past the enormous Presidential Offices with guards standing outside, to a park with several statuses, on to the huge garden with the National Theatre, National Concert Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
The temple like gate stood at the entrance of the place, where a long, straight aisle took you to the steps of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on either side were the other two buildings reflecting each other as they looked exactly the same with red walls and golden roofs. Here and at the park, women stopped to ask if I needed any help or to take a photo of me on my camera. This was incredibly kind and just showed how friendly the Taiwanese people were.
Once up the stairs, inside Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, I stood in front of a huge marble-looking statue. I arrived at the exact time when the guards were about to change. With red rope sectioning us of the central floor, I stood at the edge waiting for what was about to come. Three guards came out of the side door, marching a particular routine to the front where the current guards joined them. They then did a kind of dance or maybe more of a sequence of marching, spinning and throwing their guns to each other and swapping position before the new guard stood in the front of the statue and the other three left the building. It was cool seeing this happening.
My stomach by this time was flipping with the lack of food so I was in search of some kind of cheap nourishment. Unfortunately, there was no-where close by so I had to walk a while past the National Museum of History and the Botanical Garden to find somewhere. I found a mall with a Spar, McDonalds and some other restaurant that weren’t exactly in my budget. In the end, even with seeing if anything in Spar took my fancy, I went to Maccas, which was 5 AUD for a meal.
I carried on walking west to Longshan Temple, where I could look around for free. The temple had an incredible statue with a waterfall just outside in front of a main road. Many Buddhist people showed their respects by buying incense and praying in from of the Buddhist statues. These were very different from the Thai Temple Buddhist statues.
I strolled along the streets full of little food shops back to my hostel. I checked into the hostel, where I found I was in a female dorm with three tiered bunk bags. And guess what… I was on the top one. It was first time sleeping on the top of one of these but it wasn’t scary as there were stairs around the back to the beds instead of a ladder. I napped for a couple of hours as I was feeling tired.
When I woke up, I had a bit of a headache and didn’t feel too well. I was debating whether to go back to sleep but wanted to make the most of my time in Taipei and thought food might help.
I walked about 20 minutes along roads with bright-light signs to Huaxi Street night market. It was a standard kind of market with loads of food stalls and gist that could be purchased. I ordered some noodles and tofu from a small stall with tables. The food was cooked fresh and bought to my table. It wasn’t tasteful food as it was bland but it filled a hole but didn’t make me feel any better. I didn’t want to stay at the market much longer so I just re-traced my steps back to the hostel, where I changed into my pyjamas and curled up in bed.