Seven days in Taipei, six nights spent adventuring the great streets, and hundreds of facts learned from my first international vacation! I was enamored by the whole atmosphere and structure of the city, and even more so by its delectable local cuisine. Besides catching up on the Rio Olympics on their primetime schedule, Taipei offered a bunch of thrilling activities to do during my stay, even when it rained, and a few of them involved traveling to locations explored by TAR. Here are some of the photos I took of my journey arranged in chronological order of season visit:TAR12Taipei Main Station
- Not a typical railway station; in fact, the place was like its own shopping center. There were many pastry stalls and gift boutiques selling wonderful desserts such as yule logs, macaroons, egg tarts, and mooncakes. A food court on the second floor offering Taiwanese and other ethnic cravings filled visitors' and high-speed rail travelers' appetite. Ultimately, I spent most of my time upstairs to lunch on a delicious hot cast iron skillet meal of beef, rice, glazed onions, and bok choy. I considered riding the high-speed rail to Taichung/Jiji from there, but had planned a rather tight schedule attending more excitement around Taipei. However, I did ride the metro lines (also feasible in walking distance at the station) frequently.GK Teahouse
- I must credit georgiapeach and her friend from Taiwan for helping me locate this beautiful teahouse.
Thank you! Fun fact of that night: I learned from a local that the proper pronunciation of this establishment is "Jie-Kuh". Although the menu at this restaurant was written entirely in Mandarin Chinese, a language I cram-studied on my flight, I settled on ordering a nice pot of tea and took a wild guess as to which flavor was the rose-colored one teams drank during the race. Unlucky for me, I chose the wrong one! Appreciatively, a dark tea infused with what I believe were dates (bottom left picture) had a unique, charming flavor I could not stop sipping. If I do return to Taipei again, GK is worth a return visit. The ambiance of the teahouse is relaxing, earthy, and an oasis from the tropical humidity.Gongguan Night Market
- Unfortunately, my phone battery depleted about the time I arrived at the central hub of Gongguan so I was not able to take any more pictures that night than the one below. The night market is not as large-scale as Shilin or Raohe, but a quaint evening staring at oodles of Taiwanese street food and viewing the flashy neon signs just after drinking a warm pot of sweet, stark tea was lovely.228 Peace Memorial Park ("Zhongzheng Park")
- The lantern-lighting park that merely made it on the air! From the looks of it, the green near the palm trees seems like the approximate area where the task was organized. Although now a glorious park where everyone was enjoying the view and walking about with a stroller or texting away, I learned the memorial there paid recognition to the division of Taiwan from Mainland China in 1947. A museum opened in the park to bring to light the historic massacre that took place and the events leading into independence. I can't believe no one ever brought this up during my 20th century history course in college. Such a fascinating past Taiwan has had much like the Colonial U.S. wanting to cede from Great Britain.Youth Park
- Youth Park was a gigantic park to go around! It felt more like an amusement park with endless winding paths, an exercise station, swimming pools, rollerskating rink, a red dirt forest, a baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, a driving range, and let's not forget the stones teams had to track onward and back. I tried stepping on one of those rocks barefoot... that was NOT a good idea. I'm pretty sure the amount of "uncles" that traveled through my head while walking the path would make me become an extremely whiny child calling for a family member.
At the entrance of the park closest to the expressway, a clock made out of flora and a statue of a historic ruler greeted me by surprise. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
- The largest open walking space in the country perhaps! I was able to explore inside the memorial and see what the life of the former nationalist leader of Taiwan was like in office and some of his relics. The architecture for each of the buildings in the square are colossal and truly evokes grandeur to represent Kai-shek's reign. Simply a stunning and gorgeous centerpiece of Taipei!TAR19Ximending Commercial District
- A crowded and busy boulevard with vibrant and jovial tastes in clothing, snacks, and pop culture! I also found the electronic billboard that got teams confused about their next clue (top right). Ximending is a youthful district, but is welcoming for people of all ages to come and explore each store. As a matter of fact, I found a pair of silver earrings I really liked at one of the outdoor vendors!Taipei Confucius Temple
- I don't think I have ever been so enthusiastic to see a payphone in my life!
Showing off the proverbial and spiritual enlightenment of wise Confucius, I also was taught a lesson about the morphing of Chinese language from simple stick lines to curvy brush techniques. The temple offered many interactive stations, one of those I was invested into for 30 minutes -- calligraphy! In my bottom picture, I attempted to copy the plaque on my left. I believe I "wrote" A.K.A. shaded and drew it the best I could with a pencil.Core Pacific City Mall
- Kaylani & Lisa visited to do a daring bungee jump from the maintenance ladder, I visited to do the same thing..... just kidding! The mall is equipped with an arcade, bookstore, and playground, and shopping outlets along with fancy restaurants upstairs for the adults. Every floor has its own unique style and each floor was its own perspective toward the core. The structure of this building is phenomenal, that is all I have to say!Dajia Riverside Park
- The landscape here while standing along the promenade delivers a breathtaking view across the river! The viewpoint is spectacular from looking toward Grand Hotel to as far as the Miramar Ferris wheel. I traveled here in the morning and there were only a few people spending time at the park. Might I mention we know the following Pit Stop peeping behind the trees. All of them were picnicking so I guess this is the ideal spot for a nice day of relaxation. Of course, the rays were scorching here so sunblock is a necessity before embarking on a summer trip here. I realized I was sunburned on my arms when I returned to my hotel. Turning my back toward the river, a mosaic of Taiwanese locals decorate the divider. I believe this is where the phrase "Dajia" is signified. "The People's Park"! (Cram-studying on a plane paid off!)Martyrs' Shrine
- And here we have it, the last place the U.S. version visited! While I was here, the changing of the guards occurred and I was in awe watching these professional officers stand like a rock on their designated posts. In addition, I read the 24 boards and numerous busts spread around the back to enrich myself about the backstory of this memorial. There was even a miniature version of the entire complex directly behind the shrine. Definitely an eye-opening place for anyone to visit. Just don't think the show is over once the guards are all standing still.
And of course, the common place both U.S. seasons visited....Taipei Taoyuan International Airport
Last, but not least. Thanks for stealing the CBS logo, Taiwanese security company!