Taipei: a pleasant, and offerable, surprise

By Jay Kong

For the vacation before my Taiwanese one, I went to Tokyo with high expectations. Somehow, I ended up being extremely disappointed — I felt that Hong Kong was far more impressive. That’s also why I didn’t have much expectation for Taiwan. After all, Taiwan didn’t seem that exciting of a place to visit, and I believed there were cooler more exciting places to go for vacation (like Tokyo).

I groaned after setting foot in Taoyuan International Airport. The walls displayed signs of age through their yellowness. Instead of having a central air conditioning system, there were individual air conditioning units on the wall. It felt like I was setting foot in rural China. I didn’t feel much better after finding out there was no direct transportation to the city.

However, my feeling of dismay was quickly revoked after arriving in Taipei Main Station. In addition to the sheer flow of people, the interconnectedness of the MRT gave me a renewed feeling that I was walking within a modern city, and thus began my journey. I stayed exclusively in Taipei and I went to many places such as the night markets, the Taipei 101 district, and the Beitou hot springs. Even though the weather was terrible, the places I went to all charmed me with their own uniqueness. Nonetheless, one thing that jumped out at me was that Taipei was very suitable for all. Even if you don’t want to spend too much money, you could still have a great time without having to eat out of a can. The food at the street stalls was affordable while being delicious, and the cost of visiting most sightseeing spots was negligible (with the exception of the 101). This simply isn’t true in both Tokyo and Hong Kong. The two weeks I’ve spent in Taiwan for winter break have certainly impressed me, but the zoo really did smell bad.