Taiwan #1: Taipei

This is the first post in my Taiwan series. I took a ton of a photographs on my trip and I'm excited to finally be sharing them. I've organized the photos by location. We started and ended our journey in the capital, Taipei.

Taipei is an amazing city. Its technology is cutting edge, the public transportation is abundant and efficient, and the food is fantastic. The streets are lined with vendors, selling everything from fruit to braised pork, and many areas turn into special night markets after the sun sets. I went on to learn that this love of food is pervasive throughout the country. While Taipei is so advanced in many ways, remnants of the past can be seen throughout the city, both in the culture and the architecture. Taiwan was occupied by the Netherlands, Japan, Spain and China, so it's not hard to find influences from those nations throughout the city.

Another thing that struck me was the subtropical climate. There were a surprising amount of trees and plants throughout the city. The vegetation appearing to reclaim the narrow alleyways between heavily Japanese influenced structures gives the feeling of the brighter side of an apocalypse.

We stayed at a fantastic hostel called Star Hostel. If you are ever staying in Taipei, I would strongly recommend staying at this world renowned (and affordable) hostel. They have a beautiful common area with lots of trees growing inside and a projector that's usually hooked up to a Nintendo Switch or screening Miyazaki films. Many people in Taiwan are big fans of both of these things, which works out great for me because I am too.

The first thing we did when we got there was eat some authentic and delicious beef noodle soup, along with some fantastic braised boar with sweet potato in rice. I also got one of my favorite drinks, Apple Sidra.

After that, we wandered down some of the narrow streets, eventually making our way to Taipei 101, which is considered one of the original "Evil Buildings." Whenever I'm traveling in a new city, I like to get up as high as I possibly can and look around at the city from a bird's eye perspective. Sometimes the best I can get is a hill top, or the roof of my hotel. But here we were able to get to the top of one of the world's tallest buildings. It was beautiful to be able to see the city from so high up, and see it slowly transition from day to night, and watch the city light up in a new way.

Inside of Taipei 101 is a special structural marvel that's known as a tuned mass damper. It's a giant ball filled with steel that is suspended near the top of the building. The ball, weighing in at 660 tons, acts as pendulum to help stabilize the building during extreme typhoon winds and earthquakes.

While at the top of Taipei 101, we spotted an interesting-looking park that was shaped like a flower. We went to check out the park up close for a bit, discovering a unique labyrinth of paths and canals. It seems unlikely that anyone would be able to tell that it was a flower from down below, which shows the beauty of taking opportunities to get multiple perspectives.

We finally made our way to a movie theater near Taipei 101 and watched A Quiet Place. If you are planning on watching a movie in Taiwan, it's worth noting that people don't show up early for movies (at least in our experience). In fact they don't let you in until the ticket time, and without any trailers, the movie starts. Despite how intense the film was, we had a hard time keeping our eyes open after such a long first day.