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Travel blog I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast, but I'm intercontinental and I eat French toast (Beastie Boys) | | | Photos available at www.istockphoto.com/georgeclerk

Taiwan - Taipei to Hualien

TAIWAN | Saturday, 6 December 2008 | Views [3868]

From Fukuoka in Japan I flew to Taiwan with China Air, which is the national airline of The Republic of China (Taiwan).  China Air is not to be confused with Air China, which is the national airline for The Peoples' Republic of China (China).  Confused?  I was fairly confused at the airport, until I realised that I had to check in for my China Air flight at the Japan Airlines counter!

This is the controversially named Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in central Taipei - a massive building, even though it looks quite small here.


Taipei 101 is currently the world's tallest completed skyscraper.  Next year it'll be trumped by Dubai's new mega building, though.  It's over half a kilometre tall, but despite the fact that it towers over Taipei, you don't actually see it very much in the city, because most of Taipei is fairly built up.  From the top it feels like you're looking down on the city from an aeroplane though.  Despite the miles and miles of mountainous countryside, Taiwan is only second to Bangladesh in the world for population density.


Mopeds are very popular in Taipei.


The English used in Taiwan is very modern!

After four nights in Taipei I headed south east on a train down towards Taroko Gorge, which was much more impressive than I expected.  That was helped by fantastic weather, which I was assured wouldn't last.


These pictures don't do Taroko Gorge any justice.


The pagoda in the top right of the photo above this one was like the Tardis!

A temple in Hsincheng

From Tienhshiang in Taroko Gorge, I got a bus to Hsincheng, then had a short train journey down to Hualien.  By that time the weather was back to normal - an overcast white sky.

I'd been in Taiwan for a week before I met any foreign tourists, but before that I did meet several people who were working or studying here, especially in Taipei.  Taiwan doesn't seem to be very popular with foreign tourists, despite the fact that travelling here is relatively cheap and easy.  I reckon that it'll soon become a popular place to come.

Hualien

Coming from Japan, there was a definite cultural change in many ways, but most clearly in the way that people deal with you.  In Japan, everyone you speak to, especially in shops and accommodation, is unbelievably friendly and helpful, often rushing around at high speed to make sure that you don't have to wait more than a moment for anything.  Not so in Taiwan - people on the whole are still friendly, but that's mixed in with a healthy dose of 'Yes... And now what do you want?' gruff attitude, which is actually quite refreshing a lot of the time!  You still get the occasional 'Ni Hao... I Love You!' from a cleaning lady, which is always nice!

I had brunch at a cheap place on the street, and having had a look at their display after eating, I was glad that I'd just gone for 'beef'.  Is that a heart?

But I splashed out 230TWD (5 pounds) for a delicious supper - as well as the fish, I had all sorts to pop into my boiling water... tofu, a sausage, a prawn, spinach, cabbage, a samosa etc etc.

Thankfully two locals next to me kindly helped me out, and one of them took me over to the sauce area, and custom mixed me a sauce (you can choose from an array of soy sauces and oils, chilli, garlic, spices etc).  After we returned to the table, he showed me what to do with the egg - separate out and discard the egg white, then mix the yolk into the freshly made sauce.  When they left, the other chap gave me his business card (common practise in Taiwan - now I can finally get rid of some of my freebie cards from iStockphoto!).  The card had children's pictures of aeroplanes on it, together with his name and number, under a 'Jet Fighter Pilot' title.  Not sure whether I believe that he was one!

Make up your own caption for this one!

Like Japan, Taiwan is way ahead of the West in many ways.  A kettle with a thermometer built in - genius!

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All photos 帘George Clerk.  All rights reserved.  Licenses available at www.istockphoto.com/resonants or please contact me at [email protected]

Tags: hualien, republic of china, taipei, taiwan, taroko gorge

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