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Published: November 19th 2015
Day 1: Taiwan makes country number 32. I'm on a roll. Armed with a new stamp in my passport, I stepped off the plane and right onto the metro because the airport I landed at is right in the middle of the city. After lugging my backpack around and asking a lot of questions, I found a locker to store my backpack. I wandered around the station, ate some noodles and meat (always a mystery), and stepped into the city. I only had about an hour before I left for Hsinchu where Tiffany and Daniel (friends from Budapest) live. I found a peace park and walked around there for a while before I had to get my train. When I got back to the station, there were lockers everywhere, and it's a huge station, so it took me a while to find my backpack. Made the train, and Tiffany met me on the other side.
For dinner that night we met Tiff and Daniel's friend Kaitlin and went to a Michelin star restaurant where we had dumplings galore. Everything was so tasty.
Day 2: Tiffany and Daniel had to go to work like normal humans, but since I'm unemployed
and homeless, I decided to go for a hike on the other side of the country. Here's how my conversations went in the train stations.
Me: I want to go to Cidu
Ticket lady: ?
Me: Cidu. Train to Cidu (shows her on paper)
Ticket lady: Oh! Cidu (pronouncing it exactly the same way I did)
Me: Yes. Cidu.
Ticket lady. Ne ne. Ci-du (same)
The same thing happened for my train to Sandiaoling except I showed her the name of the station in English and she still had no idea what I was talking about. Taiwan is hard. Chinese is impossible. On the second train I met some Americans who informed me that I was probably on the wrong train. My stop appeared a few stops after theirs. Score one for Kate. The train station was a shack on the side of the road with two men in it. One of them spoke enough English to give me directions to the waterfalls (so much miming of waterfalls. Waterfalls are hard to mime). It was starting to rain, so I threw on my raincoat and started walking on a sidewalk between a blue-green
river and train tracks. I came to the sketchiest darkest staircase in the world that took me under the tracks, so naturally I just went. Slowly. Checking. Empty. Phew. I found civilization and the elementary school with a map out front. I started the trek up some stairs. My whole day was this hike. It poured pretty much the whole time. However, this is what I was doing, so I sucked it up and kept on. My raincoat was useless, but my Keens were awesome. Love those boots. The hike was through a jungle and everything was super green and crazy beautiful. There were about 4 waterfalls including two that came off of overhanging rocks that I could sit under and eat my crispy seaweed and be dry for a second. The hike was also a weird obstacle course. I went on trails and stairs. I went across rope bridges and up ladders and crossed rivers on stepping stones and scaled cliffs where the steps were carved into the rock and I had to hang on to a rope for dear life. All while soaked. I'll have you know that I only fell twice.
When I got back to
civilization, I had to find the train station. I wandered into this mining town that was obsessed with cats. And I mean, obsessed. I had an hour to kill before my train (after having that same conversation again where we pronounced Cidu in the same way with no understanding) so I wandered into a tent were a lady was cooking something and just held up a finger and said "one?" It was noodles and beef for $1. Yum. I wandered into some shops afterwards and literally everything was cats. Keychains, cookies, postcards, change purses, figurines. I can't stress how many cats there were. And the music playing was cats meowing Christmas carols. I couldn't get out of that town fast enough. Tiffany and Daniel cooked me hot pot that night with really tasty seafood and I went to bed early after a hot shower.
Day 3: Tiffany got out of work early, so she and went to Taipei for the day! We walked around for a long time. We saw the grand hotel, which looks like that building in Spirited Away (go watch that movie if you haven't. Do it now), and we saw a war memorial. We got
to witness the changing of the guard. The Asian tourists didn't understand all the signs that said "please be silent and take off your hats." They took lots of pictures. We got back on the metro and made it to Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest building in the world. Guess how many stories it has? (Hint. look at the name.) We walked around that area for a while and stopped for some beers before Kaitlin came and met up with us. We went to the biggest night market in Taipei. Holy crap. The first thing I tried was stinky tofu. Take that sewage smell you sometimes get in cities and amplify it and then eat it. Stinky tofu! Actually tasty though. I also ate scallops on a stick, grilled squid, and fried octopus (not squirming). We also went into a lot of clothing shops. Asia gets those reject t-shirts that the factories mess up, so here are some of the things the t-shirts said.
mjoy your fantastic boping in ribbontie...it's happy and fun
I will not instigati revolution-bwot sirtfsun
Have you ever seen black&white as lovely as this? Fukk. Your praises for me make
me feel loved. Fukk
I was so happy in that store. After we had our fill of food and funny clothes we got on a train back to Hsinchu and went to bed.
Day 4: People went to work, so I went back to the northeast corner of the country, this time by bus. I spent the day in a geological park called Yehliu. It is full of rocks eroded in really cool ways by time and wind and water. Mushroom rocks, candle rocks, ginger rocks, tofu rocks (their names, not mine). There were tourists EVERYWHERE. Everything was so packed because people kept stopping on the walking paths to take pictures. There was a big red line on the site that you weren't supposed to cross because you could fall off into the ocean. There were security guys there because people can't read signs and kept crossing the line to take pictures. The park is most famous for a rock that looks like Queen Nefertiti. There was a line of people waiting to take pictures with it. I went around and took a picture from the other side. Done. I hiked up to the top of the cliff,
came back down, had a mango smoothie, and went back to Hsinchu. I was back for a few hours before Tiffany and Daniel got home. We met Kaitlin and got on a train to Kaohsiung, which is on the southwest coast. When we got off, the buses for Kenting had stopped running. Thankfully, there are taxis there just for that, so we took a taxi down to our hostel and passed out.
Day 5: We're on the southern tip of Taiwan! Woke up and went for a walk on the beautiful beach. Tropical paradise. So hot. Everyone else got up and we had some sketchy breakfast sandwiches for breakfast. After walking around a lot and getting lost, we got some snacks and a taxi at 7-11 and went to the entrance of the national park. We hiked around all day, and WHAT A COOL PLACE. The forest is on top of a hill and instead of rocks, it's coral reefs. Above ground. And all these hanging trees that are basically mangroves but without the water. We went in caves and crevasses. We went to the top of an observation tower for 360 degree views of Kenting. We watched monkeys
play in treetops. We avoided seeing any poisonous snakes, poisonous wasps (NOPE) and centipedes. We did see land crabs and monkeys. I love monkeys. At the end of the day we got a taxi down to town and some nice man we shared the taxi with paid for us (thanks, nice man!). We showered at the hostel and went out to the night market. I had oysters and fried squid and banana pancakes. We had beers and walked around and played darts and had a swell night all around. At the end of the night, Kaitlin and I jumped in the water and then got chased away by a man with a flashlight. Oops.
Day 6: BEACH DAY. That's what we did all day. Amazing real breakfast, and then beach. With clear water and coral reefs. Paradise. Beautiful. Weird tentacle things in the coral reefs. We got a taxi back to Kaohsiung at the end of the day, and I said goodbye to everyone at the train station. They had to go to work, I went to Kaohsiung. It was easy to find my hostel. I settled in and went to the night market. I ate some deep fried
dumpling filled with shredded something, oysters, and an egg. So tasty. I walked around forever and then went back to the hostel and fell asleep.
Day 7: I spent the day at Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung. I walked around the whole lake and went to all these temples. The whole thing was beautiful. I went towards this temple with a huge statue of Confucius because I heard what sounded like prayer being sung from across the lake. When I got there it was really bad Chinese karaoke. I walked through dragons (for good luck) and tigers (cuz it was there). I decided to be cheap and get buses back to Hsinchu. The first bus dropped me off in some city, and I wandered around forever trying to find the bus station, but it was right where the bus had dropped me and I was blind. Oops. I got back to Hsinchu and passed out.
Day 8: I know it says 7 days, but on the 8th, I rested. I needed Netflix and to be horizontal. When Tiffany and Daniel got back from work we went to Taipei 101 and
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