Towering Taipei

A long weekend in November saw us make the most of it, of course!

Our local airport, Wuxi flies to Taipei and as we went to an island for Golden Week we thought we would collect another island, and of course at least another Starbucks mug.

We know a few people who are from Taiwan and so armed with their list of must sees we started in earnest.

We flew on the Thursday night after our professional development day and arrived late into Taipei. As we were sitting on the runway in Wuxi, we did have a minor panic as to whether we needed a visa to visit. But a quick internet search told us that UK passport holders can visit Taiwan visa free. Phew. We got a taxi to the Doubletree Hilton. While a little way out of the city, it had been open about a week, the staff were extremely attentive and the stay was free. Well free in that Martin used the seemingly endless bank of points that he collects. It was a 5-10 minute walk to the metro and using the metro was very easy and it had wifi so we could plan our days easily.

The first day was grey and cloudy but sightseeing doesn’t stop just because of the weather, it just limits what you can see.

The view from the Elephant Hill was supposed to be a little bit better than this!

The view from the 89th floor at Taipei 101 was also meant to be better than this, but because of the fog it did mean that the queue to go up it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. In the quest for the inevitable Taipei Starbucks mug we had been told that there was a bookable Starbucks in the tower. Drink coffee with an amazing view. As some of you may know I don’t drink coffee, though of course Martin does and Starbucks do other drinks. However, no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get a slot so we paid to go up to the top floor (89 floors in 37 seconds- a super fast lift) and we were rewarded with a view of cloud.

However, the tower is also the home to the only dampener that is on display for the paying public to see. Since Taipei is prone to heavy duty storms its dampener will minimise the sway in high winds.

Completed the year that Martin and I were married (2004) it is 508m high/1667 feet. At 101 floors it is an impressive sight from the ground.

We had arranged to have dinner with the sisters of the brothers that Martin and I have both met at school. A family business, the Yangs set up KE Foundation, facilitating summer schools in Canada, United States and United Kingdom. They arranged to meet us at the changing of the guards at Chiang Kai-Shek’s memorial. They also went to the Eslite Mall and picked up for us Eleanor’s Christmas decoration that she made.

We would have run out of time if we had gone to pick it up ourselves since the day after the tower we went for a walk, a long walk on the promenade out to the sea. The day was lovely with blue skies and Tamsui and Fisherman’s Pier seemed like a good idea. We walked there from the metro and then got a boat back down the river. j

We made it back for 4pm to see the changing of the guard with some fancy leg and footwork.

The memorial of the first President of the Republic of China is grand. Underneath the hall that his statue is in, is a museum which we explored after the ceremony. The museum housed the president’s car, flags, manuscripts and photos and a replica of the president’s office.

We then met the two sisters and our culinary exploration of Taipei was about to begin. We went to Din Tai Fung, a renowned dumpling restaurant and the original. They are now a chain of restaurants including one in Suzhou at Shin Kong Place and in Los Angeles. (We went twice at Christmas when we were there).

We queued for about 30 minutes, the sisters ordered for us. The order included chocolate dumplings. This divides Chinese people – bit like marmite. But the Croziers say don’t knock it til you have tried it. These dumplings are a dessert, the dark chocolate melts in your mouth. The ex-students we took there in LA at Christmas were unsure of the concept at the start but were brave enough to try it! Sadly the one in Suzhou does not offer chocolate dumplings.

After main course and dessert dumplings we then had more dessert! We went to Smoothie House – another popular haunt. We had mango ice and one with berries. 3 ice creams for 5 people. We could easily have eaten 2. 3 was too much!

We had a great time in Taipei. We had more recommendations than time, but as it is only a shortish direct flight it won’t be a problem to go again.