How to Follow Directions

Taipei 101

By all accounts, Taipei should be an easy city to figure out.

We tried to orient ourselves using the directions from the hostel, but we end up walking one day, then another, and then yet another before giving up and hailing a taxi. We try to give him directions, and bless his sweet heart, he tries to work with us and our limited Chinese skills. It isn’t very fair, this hostel, from where we started, but the directions were just a bit – confusing. Then again, I’ve never claimed to excellent directional ability either. I’m sure I can get lost in a one-way maze with arrows.

We finally find it, check in, and then we’re out for the day to explore and shop at Taipei 101, the main skyscraper in the city. I personally want to buy shoes, since big feet + wide width = impossible to find shoes in Asia, but I’d heard that Taiwan’s markets are rife with big feet shoes. I have a glimmer of hope in my heart!

Memorial, at night
Memorial gate

I wanted to go to the top of Taipei 101 for a great night view, but the line was so dang long that I said “forget it” and went to the shoe stores and the food market in the basement instead. I suppose I’m finally over my fear of tall buildings. I think the “skybox” at the Willis Tower is in order over Christmas break!

We also headed over to the Chiang Kaishek Memorial to watch dancers and to see the buildings all lit up at night. It was wonderfully peaceful, even in the middle of a bustling city, and the grounds were done up beautifully. It was slightly cooler in the evening, so we were able to wander around a bit before catching the extremely efficient Metro back to the hostel.

Right across the street from where we were staying was a night market. Night markets in Taiwan are spectacular – I ended up going to at least four different ones while there! This market was small compared to the Shilin Market (the largest night market in Asia, I think?), but it was nicely manageable. I tried out the slippery boiled dumplings, a cold watermelon juice (xigua zhi), and squid. I’m in love with the spicy squid. I love the funky clothes. I love the bright lights and fun signs .

Or, I’m just in love with night markets in general. That too.

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