Dating is still a relatively new concept to me but even I know that if you’re invited on a date to Taiwan, you don’t say no. So this week I threw some clothes in my backpack and jet off for just 36 hours in Taiwan’s capital Taipei.
The boy and I started with a gin at the airport before our 10pm flight. Our travel time to Taipei was only 1 hour 10 minutes so we hit the ground and got in a taxi before midnight. We’d gone off a recommendation for accommodation, the Meander Hostel, where we got a private double room for just $400 each for two nights. It was comfortable, easy to find and free breakfast (so much Nutella) – what more can you ask for?
Waking up the next morning the first thing I noticed was the quiet. Having lived in busy areas of Hong Kong for the last two and a half years, the lack of traffic and heated argument noise was a real novelty.
With not much time to lose, our first stop was the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. I have the worst luck with the weather and the boy apparently has equally terrible luck when it comes to monuments being refurbished. Naturally we arrived to rain and scaffolding.
We didn’t let the weather deter us though and next on the list was Yangmingshan National Park. The fresh air felt like it was quickly flushing out some of the Hong Kong smog from our systems and it felt good to be out in some greenery. We eyed up a couple of hikes on the map but after the rain had soaked through our rain macs we decided maybe it was time to enjoy the view from a bus instead.
A short bus trip from the Yangmingshan Park were the Beitou Hot Springs. There are loads of fancy hotel spa resorts here where you can get pampered from head to toe but we decided to do as the locals do and head into the public springs. We paid barely $10 to get in and it was relatively quiet. We spent a good hour hopping between the pools, trying to work up the courage to get in the hottest – much to the amusement of the woman sitting nearby. Afterwards I felt completely relaxed, if a little eggy from the sulphur.
We spent the evening wandering around the local markets and exploring tiny street temples before giving in to a good night’s sleep.
With only the morning to play with the next day we made a soggy dash for Taipei 101. Even though the weather was shocking we still managed to get some decent views over the city and, much to the boy’s delight, ride in the fastest elevator in the world.
Our final stop before the airport was Taipei Zoo. I was hesitant because of the weather but eventually was convinced otherwise. After clambering on a cable car and queuing in the rain we managed to get in to see the penguins for about half an hour before we had to leave. The less said about that experience the better!
It’s so cheap and easy to get to Taipei from Hong Kong that I could easily see myself heading there for another weekend to see more of the local sights or to simply go back to those amazing hot springs!