Friday, March 31, 2017

Asia Mega Tour II - Taiwan Retrospective

We are still in the middle of making the transition to our new locale, Bali, Indonesia. It's a real big change. Indonesia, even a tourist mecca like Bali, is definitely developing world. So as I did with Japan, I'd like to capture our thoughts about Taiwan.
  • Overall, I think we agree, this has been the favorite place we've visited in Asia so a long shot.
  • It is probably important to distinguish between Taipei and the rest of the country. We were only in two cities - Taipei and the very tourist driven town of Hualien. It would be a mistake I think to judge the entire country by Taipei.
  • Taipei is clearly a modern, cosmopolitan place. Super easy to get around - the Metro, the buses. Hualien was by contrast clearly more like other places we've seen in Asia. As we spent a full week in Taipei and only two days in Hualien and those booked with full day tours, I think our data sample may be too limited to draw conclusive conclusions about the whole of the country.
  • I don't think Wife or I have found a friendly place than Taiwan and Taipei in particular. People would often see you struggling or looking at a map (like when we were going to National Palace Museum) and would say, in English, go down there and take Bus # xxx. We had so many positive interactions with people of all kinds. It was really a pleasure.
  • Taipei doesn't have a reputation for being a tourist hot spot. But gee, we were there 6 days and we didn't get to everything we wanted to see.
  • Like Japan, the hotels had  good sized rooms, lots of high pressure hot water, good bathrooms, blazing fast Internet in most of the hotels. US hotels are a disgrace in that regard.
  • Eating in general was much easier for us than Japan. They also use the ubiquitous 'BBQ sauce' on all kinds of things especially stuff you get at the night market or streets. But the Taiwanese version doesn't have the dashi/fish stock component as was more palatable to us. 
  • As most Taiwanese/Chinese restaurants have a section of vegetables, we were always able to get those as part of our meal and be closer to our ideal diet. 
  • It was still somewhat of a crap shoot as to what we were getting sometimes. We went to this one place where the English translations was "Southern Fried Chicken" with a picture of a whole chicken leg. What came out was a plate of thin sliced meat that seemed braised. Say what????
  • Getting fish, especially whole fish, was always a winner with the fish being very fresh.
  • Prices seemed a bit higher than Japan but maybe that was we were in Taipei (as we won't get to Tokyo until the end of the trip, I will wait to pass final judgment to compare apples to apples)
  • This was not a ideal time of year for photography. It is very hazy. When we go back (and I suspect we will go back) it will probably be in October/November.
  • Credit card use was much less available than in Japan. For example in Japan all the big convenience stores (7-11, Family Mart, Circle K) which are big in both countries, take credit cards. None did in Taiwan. 
  • Our one experience with the train system (going to and from Hualien) was okay. Not as good as Japan but then there is not a high-speed train on the route we took. 
All in all, we loved Taiwan and are seriously thinking this is on our short list of countries we want to go back to.


Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

It's a real gift when you find a place that you'd like to visit again. I'm happy for you!

Tom P said...

Who would have thunk? Taiwan? Very interesting.

alexis said...

I am interested to see what you think after Tokyo!