Saturday, December 4, 2010

Trecking through Taiwan

My first backpacking experience happened last chinese year. A pile of my girlfriends and I decided to backpack through Taiwan from top to bottom over four days. We started Taiwan at Taipei with a night in The Eight Elephant Hostel. This is THE BEST hostel to stay at in Taipei. It is quirky, it feels like home and the people are lovely. It is conveniently located by the night market in Taipei where we had yummy food and lindsey bought a sweater because she was FREEZING! It was surprisingly cold in Taiwan for that chinese new year and it rained the whole bloody weekend. I'm surprised Lindsey didn't turn blue at somepoint during the trip.

This is the trip where I met, Juno! Juno has since become my Korean sister. I talk to her about everything. I have gone to visit her in Korea and she has come to visit me in HK. I am eternally grateful to Taiwan for giving me Juno.

At 101

Day two of the trip was the day before Chinese New Year. Therefore the trains were super pact and we couldn't leave the city until about 6 at night. We were okay with that in the end because we got to explore Taipei in the rain. We went to some temples, The Taipei 101 (that was hiding due to the fog), The famous Red Theatre, and ate the most delicious bowl of noodles in the world!

After Taipei we headed south to Tainan. At Tainan we were there for the actual ringing in for the year of the Tiger. We decided to stay at Casino/Hotel. It was the day before Valetine's Day and we noticed that the next night the prices were going to skyrocket. We were thinking this must be a pretty nice place! This place certainly had, character. Our favorite feature of the room was a stained glass window in the bathroom that allowed people to peek in on you sitting on the toilet. Charming, just charming.
Yes, there was a tree in the middle of this resteraunt...

At midnight when the fireworks were popping we were at an amazing aboriginal resteraunt in Tainan. We danced traditional Taiwanese dances, ate boar and other traditional foods and took in the decor. This is one of the funnest nights I had on the trip. I never knew the Limbo was a big thing in Taiwan til this night. Who knew? Camber was the winner of the limbo contest. I crawled on the floor or jumped over the stick instead. I don't bend that way!!!!
I want this lion! It's so cute!

We spent the next day in Tainan exploring the fort, eating delicious oyster omlettes, watching lions dance and headed to Goiushing, Taiwan. This is where the famous hot springs are located. Also, there is supposed to be a fire/ice lake there where a volcanic fire appears out of the water. We were excited for the hot spring experience and took a train. We then hopped in some random dudes car (don't worry he had a gun to protect us!), he dropped us off at the hot spring where we were given the child's price. Thanks Dave from Canada! He was going to pick us up two hours later to take us by the lake and take us home. Relaxed from the hot spring, filled with pumpkin and taiwanese sausage on a stick we headed to the train station. Our next stop was Kaoshing and the Love River. Appropriate for Valentine's Day.

At Kaoshing we found a hotel and although we were wrinkling our nose at the price we stayed there because we wanted to drop our bags and explore! We hit the streets and the night market. I ate the famous stinky tofu of Taiwan. NOT A FAN... It smelled like elephant poo and tasted like it also. Not recommended. I had a roomie my first year in HK who loved the stuff. I have no idea why...

Snorkeling in Kenting!

Kenting was our next stop! We wanted to head there for the beaches of Taiwan! A LONG ASS bus ride later we got there to discover we needed a van to go to the place where the scuba/snorkeling was. We figured it out and then hit the water. The colors! The excitement! The fishies! I was hoping to see a turtle but no can do. Our snorkeling instructor was impressed with how well we could all swim. He let us off the leash immediately unlike other groups who had to hold a rope the whole time. We went back to Kaoshing that night because we had to leave for Taipei. We had a reservation at JV's Hostel. This hostel was not as comforting as the Eight Elephants. (My toes are still frozen from their concrete floors!) But here I met Brad and Patrick who are really good friends.

If I was to summarize my trip to Taiwan in one sentance it would be:

Taiwan: I explored, I made friends, It rained, A LOT.

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