Monday, February 7, 2011

A Day in Taipei: Kismet and the Karaoke Tower of Doom

Down Town Taipei! Look Coffee!
On our recent trip to Taipei we decided to only spend one day in Taipei. Our flight was at 8pm so we decided to do our last day in Taipei to guarantee getting to the airport on time and because being from a big city like Hong Kong, all cities are somewhat similar. "OO.. Look a big building! Let's take a photo of it!" As you have read in previous entries, I have been to Taipei last Chinese New Year with my girlfriends but this was Michael's first trip and I wanted it to be nice for him. So we made some quick plans.

We arrived the night before after hopping a train from Chiayi. We only had a ticket to Taichung but stayed on and then paid for the rest of the journey when we got to Taipei. We had to sit in between the train cars for a while and also had to stand for a bit but we paid for our full tickets despite having a seat and got to Taipei around 8pm. I was still feeling sick due to my peanut incident. Michael being a man and always being hungry got a small snack from the Family Mart and the 7-11 next to our hostel. Our Hostel was called "The World Scholar House". We were staying in the private room for the price of the dorm because when I called and booked the room I asked if she had a room available she said yes. We got there and she realized she had given it to someone else so we got the private for the price of the dorm. A very happy accident and the private room had one of the most comfortable mattresses in the world!!! YEA! After sleeping on Tatami mats at the Winson House for two nights this was going to feel like HEAVEN! We snuggled into the hostel with our good tv and good bed and free internet and went to sleep.
The ditches in Beitou have steamy hot spring water in them!

The next morning we awoke to go to Beitou. Beitou is the closest hot spring to Taipei. It is about one hour away and can be reached completely by foot and metro. Extremely convenient and easy access although much more crowded than the previous hot spring I had been to before. The signs at the hot spring and the guide books say that the hot spring is open from 9-5. This is not a hundred percent true. They take periodic 1/2 hour breaks to thin out the crowds and clean. We arrived when they were just about to take a break. FOILED! I was so mad. I hate when guide books and signs tell you one thing and then it turns out to be something else... I was irritated. We walked around for a bit and took some photos and went to the free Beitou Hot Spring Museum. By the time we were finished we had about 10 minutes left before they opened. We fought the crowds and got in, spent our hour in the hot springs, took a shower and headed back to Taipei to meet Patrick for lunch.
The free hot spring museum in Beitou. Definitely worth a look!

Public Hot Springs in Beitou
Mysterious Patrick of my last trip to Taiwan was going to take us to good Pizza in Taiwan. This was making Michael excited as he is a red-blooded man and loves pizza. However, despite finding the park where the resteraunt was located we got a bit lost and ended up being 20 minutes late. Sorry Patrick! Due to our lateness though, the kitchen was backed up at the pizza place and we went to another place around the corner for pasta, coffee and cake. YUM! Not exactly Taiwanese food but we've been eating that the whole trip! We settled in for a good lunch which actually came with veggies something we had been lacking on this trip! As we were finishing our main courses who should walk by, Hostel Brad! Hostel Brad whom we were supposed to meet up with later! He was with his beautiful girlfriend, Claire who was very nice and was going to be helping Brad and Patrick show us around the city after lunch!
Kismet and Cake! What could be better?
We finished our lunch and after discovering that Brad is terrible cake thief! (Stand up for yourself Claire!) We went to Cheng Kai Chek Memorial Hall to see the Grandness of it. Also to see the National Theatre and compare it to the ugliness of the National Cultural Center in Hong Kong. The Memorial Hall is grand and you can see while bringing in the modernness of the layout they have still respected the traditional architecture of Taiwan in their structures. I really loved the height of the National Theatre due to it's large staircases.
Our tour guides for Taipei!
The Memorial Hall is very large and white and feels a little like going to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington except with this you get an honor guard holding rifles in front of the statue as well. One poor guard was having his rifle moved and clothing adjusted for a solid ten minutes. I think i saw his tears as he was being micromanaged to death!
The Cheng Kai Shek Memorial Hall.
We then went over to the Presidential Palace and the Taipei Guest House walking by the 2-28 Peace Park where the 2-28 Massacre happened. I think it's really nice that they took a place where something so awful happened and then turned it into a place where kids can play and people can relax and be happy. The Taipei Guest House is famous for being the location where foreign dignitaries stay when they come to Taiwan, when LBJ came to Taiwan this is where he stayed! The President's Palace was a little small and not so grand: there were like 2 guys in front of it trying to look tough. Had some one not told me the president lived there I wouldn't have known. Even the President's House in Paris had a gate around it, but not here in Taiwan. It looks like the Griffin Court House Square, ugly red brick and all.

Off to the city center we went to see the part of the city that is most influenced by the Japanese. We went to the Red Theatre so that Mike could see it. And I walked through a small hand made arts/crafts fair. I got an awesome ring, handmade by a local artist! Then we walked through and saw all the crowds, the buildings, the ads and the worlds tallest karaoke tower of doom. Even living in HK we have never seen a place so large or opulent dedicated to the "empty orchestra".
The Red Theatre, last year at CNY. Note the horrible weather...
And that was our day in Taipei, it was short but we had a great time! And Patrick will be coming to see us in HK soon! The only bad thing about this day was coming home to find our cat had destroyed our apartment. Our cat is so naughty sometimes!


  1. Oh the red theatre! I remember that, do you? :) That's the area of the coolest noodle and bactel nut!
    I really want to explore more of Taiwan! Surfing.. mmm! Good that you have brilliant guides and companies :)

  2. yes, the evil betel nut resided a couple blocks over... There was a very cool local artist fair there on this trip/ not an abandoned rainy mess like we had. i got a very cool ring, it reminded me of the hongdae in korea!