Some of you might be surprised about having chosen to travel to Formosa (Taiwan) our Asian tour. Why not? Considering it is precisely that, an unusual destination, it will probably offer more than what you would expect. Omne ignotum pro magnifico (the unknown tends to be magnificent) said the Romans over 2000 years ago, and once more boy were they right.
Right of the bat we were welcomed by Ken Pai, a family friend for over 25 years who helped us find accommodation in Taipei and drove us, around the city and the up the North Road to the northern coast of Taiwan. Taipei hotels don’t come in cheap when compared to other destinations in Asia, but 40$ should find you a room in a decent hotel and 8 dollars a bed in a dorm room at a hostel. It is easy to get a map from any hotel, even if you do not sleep there, and at any rate you will soon notice that Taiwanese people are extremely helpful and friendly. The weather is very hot and humid in summer (30 degrees plus during the day) and chilly in winter,so amidst the soaring temperatures he took us to unusual rock formations close to Lee Don and to the most important pottery museum of Taiwan, where I learned that only until about 100 years ago pillows in this part off the world were made of hollow ceramic or wood that would be filled with cold or hot water depending on the time of the year. I also discovered that the first settlers in Taiwan were from Spain, who based themselves in a small island near Taipei called Domingo. It is surprising how far people would go back then if they knew of the existence of gold. They were followed by the Dutch, then the British, Japanese…
Taipei city has several attractions as well, including the former world tallest building Taipei 101- entry to the building is quite expensive at 40USD per person. There are several temples worth visiting being Longsham temple the most important; other places not to miss are the Chiang Kai Shek memorial, the maritime area of Danshui where steam baths are the thing to do, and any of the abundant night markets.
We were busy for five days, time after which we decided to move on and head to Hualien in eastern Taiwan, where we would visit Taiwan’s most famous attraction, the Taroko Gorge.