Taiwan really flies when you’re having fun

Audrey Rothery

Sitting on the plane on the runway, ready to head back to Australia from Taiwan, the only thing I could think was: “That was a whole week?” How had it gone so fast? I hadn’t even done all that much, had I? The first day was simply enough, just catching a bus with the help of a fellow traveler at the airport and then, after taking all of 30 seconds to buy an MRT travel card, got to where I would be staying. That night I hit up Shilin Night Market. After reading so much about its size and the variety of food and clothes on offer, I was pretty skeptical that anything could match up to the hype — but it did! Sweet pearl milk tea, warming beef noodles, crunchy fried chicken, I ate and drank literally until I had to loosen my belt. The next day it was off to wander through the flowers at Yuanshan on my way to the Taipei Museum of Modern Art. These two, things, which you can spend nearly a whole day enjoying, cost me a total of just NT$30! Day three was time for more shopping, so I headed to Xinyi. In Australia if you want to go to high-end shops like Burberry, Gucci, LV and Jimmy Choo you need to catch a plane to a capital, and even then they’re few and far between. Needless to say I was nearly incredulous that Taipei could have so many international brands in a single place!

That luxury stuff was just window shopping but, what I really liked (and could really afford) was the cool ultra-modern clothes and home decorations from Muji, and the surprisingly cheap jackets at Uniqlo. The rest of the time is a blur! But the many highlights are still clear in my mind: sucking up succulent soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, gawking at the too-cool youngsters in Ximending, buying about 50 (yes 50!) cheap birthday and greeting cards from local stores, and gazing out at sun setting over the city from the top of Taipei 101. Well, I guess I did actually do quite a lot. And perhaps it is not surprising the time went so fast. Everything was just so simple, easy and fun. When you’re on a vacation from hell a day can drag on and feel like a week. Taiwan was the opposite. The whole trip to me went by like a breeze, much too fast. So I guess there is only one solution to that. Gotta go, I need to pack my bags!