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Taiwan

Curious what backpackers do in Taiwan? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • At Taoyuan airport my trip is ending. Unfortunately I have to say that the airport officials should seriously reconsider their concept. The airport is one of the worst I've seen. Just luxury and other overpriced goods, not enough seats (people sitting on the floor), every gate has another confusing design (there is one in Hello Kitty Style.....hard to see what destination the plane flies to!) and not a single opened café for the waiting passengers. An airport is like a business card....a last impression to the tourists. In the next few years when studying tourism it will be my task to make suggestions to make these places better.
    Taiwan itself surprised me also very much...but in a positive sense. It is not very well known as a tourist destination, but people are very friendly, often good English speakers and willing to help. The landscapes in the north part of the island are spectacular. All in all an underestimated country which is more than worth a visit!! Glad I've been there. Oh, one last thing: don't forget to try taro cake!!! ;-)
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  • My trip to Taipei, Taiwan was a 9 hour flight from Brisbane to Taoyuan with Eva Air. Admittedly I was feeling quite ill during the last hour before arrival, not really sure why as I've never had "flying-sickness" before. Eva Air was great, smooth landings and great customer service from the flight attendants, I would definitely recommend the airline. The cost of my flight was $836 with 30kg for luggage, and converted $620AUD which gave me $13000NTD.

    I arrived in Taoyuan International Airport at 6:10pm and collected my luggage and out of customs at approximately 6:45pm.. All ready to start my 10 day Taiwanese adventure! My 7th uncle and his son picked me up and brought me to Banqiao, the place where I stayed for the first week in Taipei. Boy, was I excited! And a little nervous - I' had not seen my relatives for a good fifteen years!

    I was amazed and excited to see the city, and discovered that it was still busy and lively late into the night! Shops were still open for business, food stores were still open for the hungry people. We went and grabbed my favorite drink.. BUBBLE TEA! aka Milk Tea - and some deep fried chicken to sooth and satisfy my grumbling belly.

    Ok. The food. Into this journey of mine, you will see just how much of a "foodie" place Taiwan is known for, but for now I will just rant on about the deep fried chicken. The delicious, mouth-watering deep fried chicken... Honestly, amazing! It is definitely a must eat when visiting Taiwan. It was approximately $100NTD for a whole bag, and so approximately $4AUD. They were pretty kind with its serving size!
    Originate in Taiwan, Milk tea normally cost around $5 for a medium size in Australia and I bought one for $50NTD, which is approximately $2AUD.

    First things first. As much as I love getting magically lost in a new destination, I always make sure to have a SIM card or a working phone with data just in case of emergencies, obviously for safety reasons.
    The SIM card I bought was $800NTD, for 10 days of unlimited data usage and it only cost me $33AUD. Bargain, right!

    Although the city doesn't sleep until midnight, I went to bed early after all day of flying and spending it at airports. So, first night was an early night, ready for the first day of my adventure!
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  • One of the famous landmarks in Taiwan I went to was the Longshan Temple located in the Wanhua District. Before I get into the awesomeness details of such culture that was built in 1738, lets rewind the clock to a few hours beforehand.

    When I think of a normal train station or a building of a train station, my imagination is not far off than the one I imagined at Roma St Brisbane.

    My uncle and aunt's place was not far away from the Banqiao Train Station, which was approximately a 15minutes walk. And for the life of me, it took me about an extra 30min to find the building. Here's the tip: Just because a building looks like a commercial building, it does not mean it can't be a train station in Taipei! It has a huge shopping mall in the building, restaurants, 7/11, shoe shops, surf shops, sports wear.. and many many more. It also has High Speed Rail, normal trains, underground trains, buses, and taxi's... Honestly, that was why I was lost for such a long time. Also mind you, the ONLY time I was lost in Taiwan. Getting to the Banqiao Train Station, and when I was inside it.
    .
    The Longshan Temple was legit one of the most artistic and impressionable landmarks that I've ever been to. Longshan Temple has a miniwaterfall, gardens, along with a lot of people praying and offering their food. It was so cultural and ancestral.. It felt so harmonious. I'm not a religious sort of person, but I really enjoyed it. The atmosphere... It was on point!
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  • Despite the fact that it rained on most days, I still had an amazing time. Taiwan is actually quite a clean country, with the only thing that was crazy chaotic were the streets. This is the thing, there is an actual reason why Asian drivers drives like the way they do in Western society - it's the way they lived! There were vehicles on the road, a million motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, and people. I think the only thing that was missing from all the action was a horse carriage? Perhaps a plane. I was actually quite terrified to walk across the street that I always ran across.

    I explored the streets of Banqiao and took some happy snaps!
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  • I was really impressed with the Taipei MRT. The Taipei MRT is exactly like the London Tube in London, except much cleaner! Not only at Shandao Temple Station, which was where I took the photo, but at EVERY station. The stations are sparkling clean, and the cleanliness was something I've never seen before in any country! Yep, eat your words to every Westerner who thinks all Asian countries are dirty.

    People are so respectful towards each other. No screaming or shouting - I don't think I've seen even one "bogan" during my time in Taiwan.

    The MRT trains come at every two to three minutes, five at max. It was really efficient! Like the Oyster Card in London or the Go Card in Brisbane, you pay for the card and then top up however much you wish to. I can't remember how much money the card cost, but I topped up $100NTD (about $4AUD) and if memory serves, it cost me $20NTD from Banqiao Station to Longshan Temple Station which is approximately $0.84AUD. In another words... Public transport was super cheap for this little Aussie trotter!
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  • The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a national monument for the former President of the Republic of China, and it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Taipei.

    The place was beautiful. The landscape of the gardens, the spaciousness, and the architecture was awesome! I happen to be in Taipei for the Taiwanese 100th birthday, and a lot of people went to see the festival near the CKSMH.
    I didn't end up going, as I tend to avoid crowded areas. I did watch some of it on TV..

    My aunt and I arrived at the Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall, and I took a few snaps instead! The CKS Memorial Hall's museum has free entry as well. So we took our time there looking, and for me learning about the history of my country.
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  • There was a lot of markets in Taipei, from food markets to night markets. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to go to a night market, which was a shame. My uncle and aunt lives right next to a food market in the Banqiao District, and it was actually quite surreal - like, it's nothing similar to the Eat Street Market located in Brisbane or the lame as one that Toowoomba tries to replicate. When I say food market, it is legit all kind of food on the stand. Cooked, uncooked, biscuits, lollies, seafood, meat, veg, fries, fruits, nuts, just to name only a few.

    I came from a Western lifestyle, and remembers nothing from when I was 12yo, and I was completely blown away. Personally, I think it's so awesome and I'm all for it. How alive the place seemed, how loud it was.. It was almost as though I stepped into a whole new world. And there were all types of different food. The only food that I don't eat and will not give it a go are raw food, so I was literally in heaven!
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  • When I arrived in Chiayi one of my cousins drove us around and took us to eat and to visit a museum that was newly built. We had a tour of the countryside...
    And I saw all my auncles and aunties that I have not seen for 15 years! I felt so welcomed.

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