A walk in Taipei

A few months ago I went to Taipei for a work trip and took advantage of the late-in-the-week meeting to stay for the weekend. I was unsure of what to expect, but was a pleasant surprise.

 

From a very pink Hello Kitty flight, I looked out from the airplane window as we landed to find what seemed like a grey concrete mass, turned even duller by the overcast sky and grey light, combined with the shower spray rain and the colder than expected weather forecast. In the airport though, I found some very friendly people and found my way to the office very easily.

On the first night I was lucky enough to be located in a fancy suite in a different hotel, but only noticed my view in the morning, so did not have a chance of a night photo of 101 face on.

 

Breakfast included, in addition to the western style food, some yummy baozi (steamed buns) that became my obsession at every meal. Put these together with all the bakeries I came across, street food stalls, and night markets and I can tell you that in Taiwan the problem is choosing what to eat.

 

I just had over 24h free time, as I wanted to experience the hotel pool and bath before the flight, so Saturday morning I grabbed the booklet I picked from the airport tourist desk and headed to the furthest point, Longshan Temple, where I was lucky enough to get lost for a few moment  in the chanting of monks among the chaos of tourists and visitors.

 

10 hours, 15 km and many pictures later I was back in the hotel with the feeling that there was still so much to see, especially in the mountains surrounding the city that probably hold the key to the Portuguese name of the island “Formosa”.

 

I realised at the end of the day that I didn’t really stop for a meal, but throughout the day I got to snack on a variety of foods from street vendors or samples from the dried fruit shops and many cups of Oolong (the local tea) and that was quite a filling experience. Still, there is one unknown ingredient on many street foods that does not agree with my senses and many times I had to hold my breath and walk quickly to cross the shops.

 

After all that walking, I can tell you that Taipei is not grey, as the temple lanterns, the taxis and many street signs give it a vibrant yellow tone, that better reflects the lively night markets and friendliness of the people.

 

Há uns meses fui a Taipei em trabalho e aproveitei a reuniao ser no final da semana para passar lá o fim-de-semana. Nao tinha muitas expectativas mas Taipei foi uma bela surpresa.

 

Pela janela de um voo cor de rosa da Hello Kitty vi que aterrava no meio de uma massa de betao, tornada ainda mais triste pelo ceu nublado, a luz cinzenta, a chuva miudinha e a aragem fria que nao estava prevista pela meteorologia.Mas logo no aeroporto as impressoes comecaram a mudar ao falar com pessoas simpátias e a descobrir o quao fácil é circular na cidade.

NA primeira noite tive um upgrade para uma suite num hotel melhor, mas infelizmente só de manha é que me apercebi da vista fantástica para o 101. Nao faz mal, a foto nocturna fica para a próxima visita.

 

Ao pequeno almoco, para além da comida ocidental, havia uns baozi (paezinhos a vapor) que se tornaram obrigatórios a todas as refeicoes. Estes baozi, juntamente com as padarias e pastelarias, bancas de comida e mercados de rua dificultavam a escolha do que comer, tal era a variedade da oferta.

 

Em Taipei tive pouco mais de 24 horas livres, especialmente porque queria experimentar a piscina e o banho do hotel, portanto sábado de manha pus na mochila a brochura que trouxe do balcao de turismo do aeroporto e segui para o sítio sugerido mais longe, o Templo de Longshan, onde me perdi por momentos  nos canticos dos monges no meio do caos de turistas e visitantes.

 

10 horas, 15 quilómetros e muitas fotos depois estava de volta ao hotel com a sensacao que ainda tinha muito para ver, especialmente nas montanhas que rodeiam a cidade e que parecem justificar o nome de Ilha Formosa.

 

Ao final do dia apercebi-me que nao tinha verdadeiramente parado para almocar, mas como ao longo do passeio fui parando em bancas para petiscar ou provar frutas secas nas lojas de especialidade e beber uns copos de Oolong (o chá local) acabei por nao ter fome. Ainda assim, há um qualquer ingrediente em muitas comidas de rua que infelizmente nao combina com o meu nariz e eu cheguei a ter de suster a respiracao ao passar nalgumas lojas.

 

Ao fim desta caminhada, posso dizer que Taipei nao é cinzento, pois as lanternas de papel, os táxis e muitos néons dao a cidade um amarelo vivo, que reflecte bem a energia dos mercados de rua e a simpatia das pessoas.

 

The route / A rota:

Longshan Temple – Movie Street – Beimen – Dihua Street Commercial District – Dadaocheng Wharf – Ningxia Night Market – Huayin Street Commercial District – Main Station Area

 

Places visited / Pontos de interesse:

Longshan Temple

ASW Tea House

Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum

Chinese Medicine Shop (pick one, there are many)

Bucket Shop (good for gifts)

Night Market (eat-drink-shop all in one place, after the sun goes down)

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