Its not easy to travel with a lawyer and a banker since both are very, very busy. If I didn't ask what the plans were, we wouldn't have any place to stay and probably spend time looking for a travel agent. Thank God for the web! I was able to research and short list possible sites combining what these two busy bees want - basically, spend more time outdoors.
For the tours, it was a toss up between the customized itinerary offered by a local guide from Tours by Locals.com or book the package tours offered at Viator. The latter, by the way, is the best-value site for booking trips but a warning though - it's a hit and miss with the tour guide. Our guide for the city tour may be a bit burned out because he barked "I'm here everyday, why don't you walk down to see the shrine and I will wait for you here."
|125th birth anniversary of |
Chiang Kai Shek on October 31
For first timers like moi, its good to get your bearings by joining a half-day city tour. The tour started at Zhangshou district's Presidential Building, then stop at a traditional Taiwanese temple, the massive Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to see the changing of the guards (note: the guards do not blink for an hour, I kid you not), a handicraft center, the Ming Dynasty architecture at the Martyr's Shrine and the last stop was at the National Palace. We should have skipped the handicrafts center and spent more time in the museum. If I heard the guide correctly, in the 1930s, Chang Kai Shek transferred 3,000 crates out of China or over 600,000 pieces of anicent Chinese artifacts and artworks belonging to the Imperial family.
The night tour started with a Mongolian barbecue dinner (yes, i know - why on earth eat Mongolian in Taipei?). After dinner, we drove to the western side of Taipe to visit the Lung Shan budhist temple. It was packed with locals praying and burning incense sticks.
To cap the tour, we headed to Taipei 101, the second tallest building in Asia.
|At Yehliu Geopark|
Taipei averages about a hundred earthquakes per year. Well, we didn't feel the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Keelung at 11:38 that day. I guess we were on the road. Our guide said that Taiwan is located at the intersection of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plates and thus, seismicity is extremely active.
|Must visit Shin YehJ apanese buffet|
|local fare at Shinlin night market|
After Beitou, we stopped at Shinlin night market, the biggest in Taipei. Must try are: oyster omelette, grilled scallop, the sausages, the gigantic chicken, fried pao.
We were able to do Shakadang Trail, the Gorge, Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Caves, the Tunnel of the Nine Turns (left photo), Tienshiang Lodge and the Chi Hsing beach at the back of the airport.
The last fourth day was some shopping and to taste the celebrated xialong bao (steamed pork dumplings) of Din Tai Fung. Three people recommended this - Dedet, Cyrenee and Rae, not to mention the german couple with us. So we trooped to the original branch at 194 Xinyi Road, A bit pricey but I enjoyed the crab roe and truffle and the double boiled chicken soup.
I might go back next year and do the Taroko Gorge Marathon and stay longer for the trails!