Taiwan is kind of not really part of China, but it isn't recognized by the UN as its own country. Basically, it's complicated. There's no point in getting into the details of the Chinese Civil War, but when a war ends and no treaty is signed, this is the kind of confusion that can ensue.
So, on Sunday morning we boarded a plane from Hong Kong to Taipei. After some exploring of the area around our hotel, we checked out the Ximending neighbourhood and wandered around the artisan market at the Red House. This was followed up by walking around a pedestrianized area where we sampled some delicious street food: fried chicken with garlic and onions, freshly squeezed mango juice, and sweetly seasoned sweet potato fries.
On the subway ride to our next destination, we decided to pivot from our initial plans and tackled the Elephant Mountain hike. Unfortunately, the weather didn't want to cooperate so we pulled on our wet weather gear and trekked up the trail in the rain. At the main viewpoint, there was a spectacular view of Taipei 101 which is by far Taipei's tallest building. The rain let up for a few minutes so we squeezed in a few photos.
Finally, after all of that sightseeing, we finished off the day with tasty food at Din Tai Fung and had an early night.
On Tuesday, we headed on a bus just out of town to Yangmingshan National Park. What started out as an idea to hike some trails turned into mass confusion for over 1.5 hours. On the bright side, we were lost in a fairly picturesque place.
Even after hiking up halfway, almost to Qixing Park, and having an option to skip the peak, we kept our spirits high and kept on going. As we climbed higher and higher, the air started getting mistier and mistier. As luck would have it, by the time we got to the summit, we could not see anything. Thick fog covered the peak. We're told that the views of both the National Park and Taipei are beautiful from there... To be determined.
At the end of the trail, we finally hitched a ride on the 108 bus that we had been looking for in the morning, but the ride down was crazy; the driver was zooming around the switchbacks in the fog and let's just say the ride left our stomachs a bit unsettled. The bus dropped us off outside a pizza place in the town of Yangminshan and we just went along with it. Boy, that pizza was good.
From Yamingshan, we took the bus to Xinbeitou Station and then a taxi to Spring City Resort for some hot spring action. After a stressful and busy day, it was a great way to relax especially because we had the place to ourselves, AND we got free ice cream and sandals. Then on our way back to the hotel, we checked out Ningxia Night Market where the food was plentiful, cheap and tasty.
The rest of our afternoon in Tamsui involved walking to Fort San Domingo and exploring the home of the old British Consul. We also checked out Oxford College just behind the grounds, which was also a beautiful building.
Once we found out there was a ferry that could take you across the harbour to Bali (probably not the one that immediately comes to mind), we jumped at the chance. When we got over to the other side, we rented bikes and rode on a well kept bike trail right along the waterfront. It was awesome. One of our favourite activities of the trip.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Taipei and would definitely recommend a visit. Next stop, Tokyo!
Asian City Hopping: 2 Days in Hong Kong
Or check out our blog post from our final stop, Tokyo:
Asian City Hopping: 4 Days in Tokyo