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Journey to the East

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After being to some countries in the western part of the world, I always  wanted to travel East to see how different  that would be from the ‘West’. The opportunity came last year when I had to visit Taiwan.

imageThe Taiwan trip to me was quite unique. For the first time it would be to a place where majority of the  locals do not understand English. There was a mild trepidation on how that would be . But at the end turned out really well.

Taiwan resembled India in many things.There were people everywhere and shops on the roadside which gave me an  ‘at home’ feeling. But there are striking differences too.

The first week passed mostly with work.  It was weekend , and  a visit to Taipei 101 was top in my agenda for the day. I am not Alexander Supertramp, but wanted to try some adventure rather than a cozy cab ride to  the building. I wanted to travel with the locals like the locals.

The Taiwanese have thought well about people like me. When I said I want to go to 101TPE  by bus, the receptionist took a business card which had a ‘Please take me to : ___________________________"  He filled the blank with the address  in Mandarin.

I wandered around the roads and finally located the bus station .It wasn’t too difficult . The driver asked me some questions  for which my only polite answer was  ‘Shi’  .This continued for sometime.  Finally a curious onlooker explained me "He is asking you 85NT$ , you have to pay that ". Oh yeah ,there you go and  got into the bus.

After 45 minutes of highway (and the highways resemble the US) the bus seemed to be in downtown Taipei. Most building it Taipei are  at least 12 or higher floors. The 101 must have  been the inspiration .

image 101 Taipei is the city centre and quite prominent one. The inside of 101 was a luxurious mall.  Gucci, Swarovski, Hello Kitty, Hugo ,Armani..the list was complete.

I  went to the 89th floor of the building ,took some souvenirs and got a sky side view of the entire city.  Such tall buildings should take into considering the drag from winds and shearing from earthquakes if any. 101 has a very unique man made ‘tuned mass damper’ that acts as a counter weight that balances any disturbance from external force.

The Taipei zoo is another attraction in Taipei. Just like the SanDiego and Washington zoo’s it has 2 Panda bears loaned from  China. The next halt was to the LongShaun temple, a very old Buddhist temple in Taipei.

image By this time  it was night time and the night markets around Longshaun were abuzz with activity. Frog eggs fry, giant shrimps, water snakes ,snails,prawn crackers, chicken legs in soup..the menu was quite exotic.

image

Food perhaps is on aspect that you would truly miss while in Taiwan. I was never able to get past the odd smell from the chicken and it kept me away from tasting any of the  local food.  I survived on sub’s  and salads for most of my stay in TPE.

My stay at the Formosan province was rather short and I was  back the next week. But thanks to the excellent rail network and the courteous Taiwanese locals, I visited most places that I really thought to .

Written by sujai

February 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Posted in travelogue

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