Time to say goodbye, Taipei… I’ll miss you!

It’s 10 pm.  I should be sleeping because I have to catch a taxi for the airport at 4 am.  In a moment of complete insanity, I booked a flight departing at 7.40 am.  And now, I am severely regretting the stupidity of this decision as 4 am looms.  The other flight to Sydney was at 11.55 pm but it would have meant booking the hotel for another night and only using it for half a day, so I decided to save the money.

Anyway, it’s my last day in Taipei and feeling a tad sad that I have to leave.  I wasn’t sold on Taipei at first.  It seemed like just a mini dirty Tokyo, but over the days I discovered many more layers to the city and really came to like it.  It’s a bit Japanese and a bit Chinese but still has very much it’s own unique special flavour.  The people are without a doubt some of the nicest I’ve ever encountered on my travels.  And there’s a real unpretentious, easy-breezy vibe to the place.  It is what it is and the people aren’t wannabes like those other people up the Han Peninsula.

On my second last night, I decided to ignore all the nay sayers on Trip Advisor and went to visit Raohe night market.  Night markets are a huge part of Taiwanese life.  They have unbelievable selection of foods.  I wish I ate meat… I could have gone to town on offal: pig’s fallopian tubes, tripe and chicken feet!

I had my Lucy Jordan moment… Not quite Paris in a sports car and not quite 37 either… But I got a ride to the night market through the streets of Taipei on the back of a scooter..

And today, on my last day… It finally stopped raining!!  The temperature maxed out at 29 degrees so I hot footed it down to Taipei 101 to check out the city view.  It’s funny… The Taiwanese appear to be really theoretical with their dress.  It was 29 degrees but because it’s still winter, they were all out in their hooded down puffer jackets.  Meanwhile, I was in shorts and a T-shirt.

Taipei 101 is a very nice building and definitely looks much better in real life than in pictures.  It was at one time the tallest building in the world but already in 2019, it has dropped to 10th place.  And next year when Jeddah Tower opens, it will drop another place.

Some random stupid Mainlander staging a one man protest against the Fallun Gong protest that was going on outside the building…


The lift whisks you up to the observation deck on level 89 in a matter of seconds.  Level 89 is a windowed observation deck.  But then you go up 2 flights of stairs and you have the open observation deck.  When I got to level 89 and looked out the window, my first reaction was, “Why the f*** did they use smoked glass for the windows?” … But then a short while later, I went up to the non-windowed observation deck and noticed that the view looked exactly the same.  Of course the glass wasn’t smoky.  It was crystal clear.  It was just the blanket of smog hovering over the city.

Level 89…

Level 91…

Time for bed now… 4 am is certainly not going to be pretty.  And to add insult to injury, there is track work on my line when I get back to Sydney!!

And so my lovelies… That’s it ‘till the next trip!  I wish you all a wonderful 2019 filled with amazing adventures!

Rainy days and buses (always get me down)

Totally rained out today!
I woke up feeling quite energised… The jet lag is gone and the weekday nightlife hasn’t cracked up to be all that much. There are a lot of really cool places around, especially in this street, Priciliano Sanchez and seem to stay open late… The only problem is that they’re empty most of the time! 

I went to one club last night a few blocks down the road. It’s a big club with three floors housed in a colonial style building but again it was almost empty. When I walked inside there were only about 8 people there and those eight people were 8 of the roughest, butchest looking women you’ve ever seen in your life sitting around a stage watching a drag queen called Candy attempt to twerk and do the splits on stage while lip synching old Mexican classics. It was either lesbian night at the club or a truck drivers’ private Christmas party. I reluctantly sat down with the “girls” (I use the term loosely) in front of the stage and the “no fuss” waitress came up and took my drink order. I could’ve done without any drink but I got the impression it was obligatory to order at least one. “Un Tecate, por favor!”… She replied, “40 pesos”, which I thought was odd since the going price in a bar or club seems to be about 20 or 25. A couple of minutes later she comes back with two. She had a very stern “don’t mess with me” look in her eyes so I took the two beers and said thank you. I don’t know if it was just a case of “take advantage of the gringo” or they were so desperate for business and she figured I’d be out the door after one so she’d better sell me two quickly.

Anyway, I hurriedly guzzled my two beers and made a swift exit and sprinted down the road to the nearest late night taqueria. I wolfed down 6 “pig marin” tacos (beef marinated in chillis and pineapple and other stuff) and went off to my rooftop hideaway and went to be bed.
It was grey and drizzling this morning when I woke up so I went for a coffee in the next neighbourhood, Colonia Americana. So named, I’m guessing, because the American Consulate is there.

This whole area, Centro and Americana has a really funky retro feel about it, reminiscent of inner city Sydney like Glebe or Chippendale about 40 years ago. There are a lot of what seem to be derelict or abandoned buildings and that have been reclaimed and people are turning them into funky eateries and shops.

It wasn’t raining too heavily, but heavily enough to make wandering the streets sightseeing really not fun, so I opted for a shopping day and made plans to go to “El Palacio de Hierro” an upmarket department store. In DF, there are a few of them but the only one here is in Zapopan, a good bus ride from the Centro. Zapopan, like Tlaquepaque used to be a town in it’s own right but eventually got swallowed by the urban sprawl and is now a suburb of Guadalajara. Anyway, the Museum of Modern Art is there which I want to see so I figured I could kill two birds with the one stone.

Taking busses in foreign cities is always a nuisance, especially Latin American cities. The stops and routes and not clearly marked and it’s difficult to know where you have to get off. Catching a train is far less complicated and stressful.

It must have been beginners luck yesterday when I went to Tlaquepaque… I went to Avenida 16 de Septiembre and found the bus stop really easily. The bus came within a couple of minutes… I got on, paid the driver, told him “Tlaquepaque” and asked him to advise me when we were there. No fuss, no problem and in 20 minutes we were there.

Today was a different story however. Supposedly, it’s the same number bus, number 275, with Tlaquepaque at one end and Zapopan at the other, and the same bus stop, Av. 16 de Septiembre. I figured it’s be the other side of the road though. The 275 didn’t come for ages and I waited for a long time as the rain got heavier. Eventually it arrived, I got on with money in hand and said to the driver, “Zapopan”. He then pulled a face like he had just sucked on a lemon and blurted out, “Que??????” … I repeated, “Zapopan”, he pulled another face and started waving his hands around yelling “No!” I gave up waiting for a bus after that. I took it as a sign that I didn’t need to go shopping and besides the rain was getting heavier and I didn’t have an umbrella.

So, it was back to my rooftop hideaway for a lazy day inside via my local pastry shop to pick up some chorizo pastries.

Of course it’s still raining and of course it’s Friday night, the best night to go out.

Hmmm… To brave the weather and go out or pay attention to the signs? That is the question.