Let’s be honest. You may have been waiting for me to talk about Thai food. You may not have been. Well, the (hypothetical) wait is over, because I love food, as many people know, and being able to taste different cuisines was a huge part of wanting to travel, so some thoughts, now that we’ve been here for almost two weeks. Call for take-out now because you’re going to be hungry by the time I’m done, or at the very least, don’t read this at work, because drooling in public can be a real embarrassment!!
First of all, the food has been EXCELLENT, by and large. Some restaurants I won’t be revisiting, but the dishes themselves are wonderful, bright and flavorful creations which have really captured my imagination and taste buds. Years from now, I will still be dreaming about our first bowl of noodles when we got to Chiang Mai: tom yum seafood noodles. (I’m not crazy about the seafood part, but it worked.) I ordered really wide rice noodles, and it came all in a hot, steamy, tart broth that smelled like lime and lemongrass, and there were a few crunchy fried prawns and ground peanuts scattered on top. THE BEST. For 35 baht (~1 USD).
On Tuesday, we boarded the HSR (high-speed rail) outside of Tainan and speeded into Taipei barely an hour and a half later. This is the way to travel! It felt just like the bullet trains we’d taken in Japan, and made for an ultra smooth ride. We trekked our way with heavy bags through the unreasonable cold to Da’an District, where we had reserved five nights in a hostel. That evening, I made Steve stay up with me to debate how to travel about in Thailand and reserved a few hostels and flights before we fell asleep.
Yesterday morning, bright and early, we left our hostel for the Taipei 101 Tower, just a 20-minute walk away. Once you get onto Xinyi Road, which cuts east-west, it is hard to miss the Tower because it looms over everything else for dozens of blocks. For comparison purposes, the Sears (never the Willis) Tower in Chicago is 442 meters tall, and Taipei 101 Tower is significantly taller at 509 meters. (Though both are small potatoes compared to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at a lofty 828 meters.) We took the fastest elevator in the world (deceptively labeled “a life-changing experience” according to a quote from CNN in the lobby) and emerged onto the 89th floor, a 360 degree viewing observatory. It was a beautiful day to see Taipei — slightly cloudy, but not oppressively so. Taipei lies in a basin on the very northern tip of Taiwan, and we could see mountains in several directions as well as a city (Taoyuan, maybe?) to the southwest on an elevated plateau, surrounding the sprawling metropolitan area.