I’d be lying if I said that Taiwan was a place I had at the top of my list when I moved out here but it’s definitely a place I’ll be visiting again, without a doubt, and even a place I’d consider moving to for a few months. That’s being said after just a couple of days there so you can imagine that it has made a pretty decent first impression on me.
I have to go back to check out the countryside, which I have also heard some very good things about, but in the meantime Taipei has a great pace, incredible food, (without a doubt I have eaten my weight in pineapple cake samples) and above everything else, the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve probably ever met. Even upon arrival, we jumped in a taxi to find the hostel, speaking the most minimal Mandarin you pretty much can (Xièxiè) to a man who speaks the most minimal English you pretty much can (thank you). Safe to say that we had a great(ful) conversation. But rather than refusing us the ride for not understanding the address, as often happens in Hong Kong, he drives us to the nearest hotel, takes us inside to the concierge, gets him to translate and then drives us to our hostel and ensures we can get in there safely.
After that the good people just kept on finding us…
Another ordered us traditional Taiwanese breakfast the following morning (hot soy milk and sugar is the one for a cold, drizzly morning wherever you happen to be – bonus if you’re sat next to a fruit seller on a street in Taipei), another man, a retired journalist who could speak fluent Mandarin, English and Japanese (life goals) ordered us lunch and another man at the Beitou hot springs went and bought us some water as we had naively entered without it.
Turns out these hot springs were actually incredibly hot, who could’ve guessed really, to the point where you stay in for a few minutes at a time until you’re dripping with sweat and feeling extremely lightheaded (probably don’t actually wait that long) and then go and immerse yourself in a freezing cold one straight afterwards for the next few minutes. We managed to make this last a few hours, together with some great conversation with the locals. One particular local we met, Pascal, later took us out to an amazing Taiwanese restaurant so we could really try the local delicacies, everything from pineapple shrimp to pork knuckle, and then proceeded to write down, in Chinese so we could get directions, a long list of places we should be visiting on the next day in order to taste (Check out dimsumdiet on insta to see some of it) and see the best places in Taipei, which we so happily obliged to do. He definitely ensured we did Taipei properly.
Besides the food, which is all I really need to be convinced I like a place, and the people, the city itself is brilliant: hikes, thermal valleys, beautiful monuments, shrines, temples and buzzing night markets. I’ll be spontaneously visiting again I imagine.