After 3 rather surreal weeks in China, I headed off to tiny neighbouring Taiwan. This would be my first visit and I was excited to see how Taiwan compared with China.
Taiwan was probably the country on my summer itinerary that I had the least preconceptions about. I knew some key Taiwanese history and recent politics but knew little about it’s culture or individual cities. I don’t know why but I just had this feeling that me and Taiwan were going to really get on and I wasn’t wrong! Compared to China, I took so few photos in Taiwan which is obviously a shame but it was probably because I was enjoying myself too much to remember I had a camera with me!
I flew into Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport early afternoon and after a week in the Chinese countryside, the bus journey itself from the airport to the city centre was exciting enough. Honestly. Taipei has a beautiful mix of mountains, water and city, which are very reminiscent of Hong Kong (my favourite city in the world if you didn’t already know) and so Taipei instantly felt rather homey and familiar. I wish I had some photos to share but I was too excited looking out the window! (And telling my darling mother I had arrived in one piece…).
After unpacking in my adorable studio apartment in Shilin, I had two priorities after leaving the Chinese countryside: fix my broken laptop and find decent spaghetti. I had attempted my best Mandarin in a tiny repair shop in Yangshuo but I fought a losing battle really. I had high hopes it would all be sorted in tech-savy Taipei at the snap of a finger. Like my mum said to me: “they’ll probably be able to build you a new laptop in a day”.
And anyone who knows me knows how much I adore spaghetti and crave it wherever I am in the world. Aside from one place, I hadn’t been able to find any decent spaghetti in China (I know, I know, eat local food. I did plenty of that too, promise!). I was super excited to learn that my favourite Italian restaurant in London, Vapiano, also had a branch in Taipei!! I’d lost some weight during my last week in China (my shorts were borderline falling down..) and so the thought of devouring a giant bowl of Vapiano’s treats whilst sat on a sky-high city balcony was pretty much all I could dream about the day I flew to Taiwan. I feel no shame!
Unfortunately, the repair shop in Taipei didn’t have the part I needed but they were so helpful and friendly. The man who served me even verbally translated the paperwork from Chinese to English for me before I signed it! “Usually I ask customers to read and sign this document but I think you cannot read Chinese so I will translate for you”. Bless him.
Long story short, I then visited an Apple-affiliated shop and this happened:”Yes, we can fix you laptop and we can do it for free!” “Amazing!! How long will it take?” “Up to 7 days”. “Oh, I leave Taiwan in 6 days time…”. Basically, I wouldn’t be in one place for longer than 6 days for another month, which was when I landed in Hong Kong, and so I’d have to go cold turkey without a laptop until then. I was SUPER annoyed but what can you do. Shit happens. It meant no blogging or uploading photos for a month which would also probably mean buying new memory cards for my cameras because I wouldn’t be able to transfer photos to my laptop from them. Arghhh. The positive was at least I knew my laptop wasn’t beyond repair.
My consolation bowl of spaghetti that night didn’t disappoint and I had an exciting walk through central Taipei. Be prepared to cringe but almost nothing makes me feel more alive than walking through new cities at dusk or watching city-sunsets from mountains. I was already in love with the bright and energetic vibe of Taipei. It reminded me a lot of a ‘shinier’, more spaced-out and slower-placed Hong Kong. Here are some (not great) phone photos. I was too excited and hungry to think so I just randomly clicked everywhere!
Full of spaghetti and excitement, I waddled back to my studio apartment ready to properly explore in the morning.
Have you been to Taipei before? What was your first impression? What’s your favourite thing to do in the city? Tell me in the comments!