03 November 2008

Taipei: Kaohsiung of the north?

Now, back to those Jon stories. It may seem like there are a lot, but he was here for over two weeks, and this post will mark the end of week one. Granted, my getting sunburned on 10-10 meant that I got my usual sunburn-induced cold/cough in week two, so activity was substantially reduced.

Anyway, I will come out and say it, Taipei is not my favorite city. Though Kaohsiung is supposed to be more dense, Taipei feels more crowded with more traffic and scarier-looking stray dogs. The biggest lesson that I learned from going to Taipei with Jon is that, in Taiwan, it is really necessary to get advice from a local on where to go and what to do. For the times when we just wanted to wander and find things, we inevitably got lost and ended up eating McDonald's because it's all we could find. When we found something online or in a travel book, we ended up disappointed and not sure if we were in the right place.

But the three places that were heavily recommended by friends, the Palace Museum, the Taipei Zoo, and the Shihlin Night Market, were definitely successful ventures. The Palace Museum is a collection of everything from art to ceramics to old letters that were taken from the Mainland during the communist revolution. No pictures were allowed, but it was definitely a tourist-friendly and worthwhile trip.

The Taipei Zoo is at the end of one subway line, far outside center city; it's a sprawling zoo with plenty of different landscapes to accommodate almost every animal. A favorite exhibit was the koalas, though the pictures didn't come out great through the glass:

And then there were the elephants, that Jon's college roommate Benny apparently took care of for a summer:

And that big furry bear that Jon really, really wanted to take home:

We also went to the top of Taipei 101, seeing the whole city from 101 floors up:

Of course, going to Taipei 101 with a physics major was a little different. He was way more interested in the damper that kept the building steady. Here he is, posing with the "damper baby," with the big damper in the background:

The Shihlin night market was also a successful trip, with more food and people than we could ever take in:

And finally, a nice picture of one of those great monuments that we never meant to see while getting lost on our way to somewhere else:

And though I have hundreds of other pictures from the Taipei weekend, it's time to move on to week 2. Look forward to it!


glennie said...

oh! I love the fuzzy bear! Most definitely, you should bring one home. :)

kennyster said...

A round of applause to you (and a peck on the cheek) for not saying (like more foreigners do) that Taipei is the only place worth visiting in Taiwan.