Back from Taiwan

The end of the semester is approaching so we have to hand in a lot of reports and presentations. I try to focus on studying. However, it is not so easy to concentrate on working due to a continuously repeating sounds from constructions close to our dormitory. Human rights are probably not so important here so we have already been listening to the sounds 24 hours a day for three weeks. It is a weird sound, we plan to make an excursion to find out what it is. Anyway, now it is time to take a break, put on earphones with some good music and think back to a wonderful stay I had in Taiwan. 

After three months, I met Czech people and I appreciated to speak in my native language again. I made a small exchange visit with my friend Lenka studying in Taiwan, a former classmate from our bachelor in Prague. At first, she visited me. We looked around Macau and Hong Kong and even I explored some new places:

A cable car in Macau and a new view at the city.

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A view from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong

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Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong (the largest one I’ve seen so far)

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Or The Big Buddha statue in Hong Kong (actually, we didn’t see it, we were only in front of it)

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After six days in the Pearl river delta, we took off to Taiwan from Hong Kong airport. I stayed the first day in the capital city Taipei and I met there a friend of Lenka (she had to go to her city to study), another Czech guy Tomáš who offered me a place to sleep at his dormitory. It was situated close to Taipei Zoo and there was a nice view from the roof.

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My friends had classes so I went to sightsee the city by myself. First, I took a cable car at Taipei Zoo and I had a great view from the south of the city. Taipei is much nicer than Macau, buildings don’t have “the cages”, aren’t so crowded like in Macao and the skyscrapers are embraced by green hills…

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The cable car ended at a mountain with a great Zhinan temple.

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When I came back with the cable car, the sky became totally clear and it was the best visibility I experienced since my move to Asia so I took advantage of it and went to the most famous building in the city Taipei 101. 

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It was for a long time the tallest building in the world before Burj Khalifa from Dubai overcame its record. At least, it has another record. There is the quickest elevator in the world. You come to the height of 390 m in 37 seconds at the highest speed of 1010 metres per minute (60,6 km/h). The view was spectacular.

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Later, I continued to the main square of Taipei with a monument of Chiang Kai-Shek. 

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I grabbed a take away sushi and enjoyed my snack at the square. Food in general in Taiwan is so tasty and cheap. I wish it was the same in Macau.

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In the evening, Tomáš joint me and took me to another amazing viewpoint. We climbed the Elephant mountain to see the sunset and Taipei at night. In my opinion, the view there was even better than from the tower. I was so lucky with weather. 

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Even after sunset, the view was beautiful. No wonder there were dozens of photographers next to us trying to catch an ideal picture.

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When it got dark, we realized we were hungry. Tomáš had “the best” idea to visit a snake market. After considering if it is a good thought, we finally decided to order a snake soup. We didn’t expect that the waitress will bring us also some additions. Besides others, there was snake blood and snake poison. She introduced us some kind of ritual and explained us how to drink “the additions” and eat the soup. She told us if we manage to eat and drink everything, we will be strong and healthy. To be honest, I am glad we survived it. 

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Maybe, she was right. Next morning, I was strong enough to wake up at 6 a.m to catch up train to the south of Taiwan. We passed by a funny city. I couldn’t stop laughing. Czech people will understand me…

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Later, Lenka joined me at her station and we continued to one of view old preserved cities Lukang, with over 200 temples… We visited the oldest one- Longshan temple.

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Next morning, we decided to explore Jiji small rail line. The line was originally built by Taipower to facilitate the construction of Mingtan Dam hydroelectric power plants. However, today it is famous for its touristic attractiveness of Taiwanese countryside.  We took a train to the terminal station Checheng, left our luggage there and rented a scooter to see the place more thoroughly. It was the most interesting place I have seen in Asia so far. We passed mountains, palm forests, cosy villages, temples, various fields, plantations and also monkeys. Here words are useless, see the pictures below:

Jiji train stop…

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A tree tunnel…

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Tea fields surrounded by palm trees…

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A stop at a pineapple field…

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For those who didn’t know how a pineapple grows (like me)…

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And monkeys!

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Aren’t they cute?

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When we were at the end of our journey and wanted to get back to Checheng , our scooter refused to start. We didn’t know what to do. The guy who rented us the scooter couldn’t speak any single word in English so calling him would be useless. We decided to take a bus back and tell him to come for the scooter. The rest of the day seemed to be lost. Later, we found out that there was no bus when we asked some locals in the nearest shop. The people there spoke English very well. They were also curious what happened to us and started to help us with our problem. They called the guy and told him to pick up the scooter and give us money back. After that, they invited us to their tea house not to wait in the street. They were so helpful and hospitable. They offered us a tea from a local plantation and also brought local hot dogs. Believe or not, they use rice bread instead of bread we are used to. Asians really make everything from rice. However, I have to say the hot dog was tasty. After the guy came and gave us the money back, our new friends offered us to take us back by car. Really nice people. We felt bad for what everything they did for us so we bought there at least some special cookies and their tea. I wonder how many people in Europe would help Asians in troubles we found ourselves.

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Next day was Sunday, the party day in Taipei so we had to get back. We stopped by Sun Moon lake, the most visited place in Taiwan. Unfortunately, it was really too touristic. There were thousands of people everywhere and the place lost its charm. Anyway, I was satisfied. I found there the first really tasty beer in Asia. 

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As it was beautiful weather again, we went by a cable car to have a view over the lake. The lake is so pure. 

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We spent there some time and then, we continued to our train to get back to Taipei. Partying in Taipei is, let’s say interesting. Clubs on Sunday have a special promotion. Guys pay (250 NT$= 6 EUR) and can drink anything they like for the whole night. Girls drink totally for free. It was so much fun there and we brought a Taiwanese traffic cone for Tomáš’s roommate. He was so happy about that.

Next day, we set out to the ocean. There are sand beaches with great surfing conditions. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel so fit after previous night so I was not as successful as last time in Spain.

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Last day, me and Tomáš went to the eastern part of Taiwan. Unlike the west which is very densely populated, there are few cities due to steep mountains and difficult conditions for life caused by frequent strong Typhoons and earthquakes in the east. Building roads is architectonically difficult there. However, once it’s managed they are touristically very attractive. The road going through Taroko national park was voted as one of the 10 most beautiful road which was ever built. I understand why. This steep gorge is amazing with all its tunnels, bridges, rivers, rocks…

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Some roads were unfortunately closed due to a recent typhoon. That’s no obstacle for our scooter. 

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But we found out early the damages of the typhoon were really serious so we got back.

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We decided for a short hike instead.

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The time ran away so quickly. After seven amazing days, I had to go back to Macao. I still missed many other interesting places in Taiwan, especially the mountains (almost 4000 m tall) where you need a special permission to enter and primarily more time. Once, I have to go back!

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About jarinek

I am a graduate Master student in Business development and internationalisation at Umea University, Sweden. In the fall 2013 I went for an exchange programme to Macau, University of Science and Technology. My blog approaches my experience there in China. View all posts by jarinek

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