Taiwan and its cultural quirks: Part I

Has anyone ever been to Taiwan?

My husband and I recently spent 6 days in Taipei, and we weren’t sure what to expect, but I’ll tell you what, we loved every minute of it!

I’m going to tell you about our trip by uncovering our adventures as a series of interrelated ideas. A lot of the time, one thing led to another, which made for a lot of choices on our trip. Isn’t this the best way to travel?

So, let me tell you about our street food tour and hike up Elephant Mountain – two activities which we did not end up doing on the same day, but as promised, they are interrelated.

The streets of Taiwan

We had booked a street food tour for our third day there, which we were pretty excited about. For some reason, which is strange because we both really love our food and we travel overseas at least once a year, we had never been on a tour like this before. It was almost ignorant of us, assuming we knew the best bits about Asian food as a result of our travels through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Japan because as we found out, we most certainly did not!

The food we tasted on the tour was fabulous, but so were the people we met and the cultural quirks of Taiwan that we learned about. It is such a great way to experience a new place. Walking through the busy streets allowed me to take the time to appreciate the beauty of what went on around me. A lady hunched over a bucket of nuts, shelling them to uncover the best bits, a team of pastry chefs working to create a Scallion pancake masterpiece or a fruit stall owner offering the freshest fruit with toothpicks to use as forks so that customers could keep their hands clean.

We ate some tasty and very unusual food, which I will tell you more about another time, but the people we met on the tour and the things we learned about Taipei also made it very memorable.

Market stall

There were 3 fellow Australian’s on tour, along with 2 girls from the US, a girl from Israel and an older guy from Canada. Some people, like us were travelling in pairs, but were just as keen to chat as the solo travellers. We found out about restaurants and must-see attractions that we foolishly had not factored in but luckily, we took their advice and checked out Elephant Mountain.

Where city meets mountain

It was a great hike, and we passed a lot of people on the way who were looking sweaty and accomplished as they stumbled down the steps. It was lucky that the steps had been built, as the slope was quite steep. There air was full of humidity, being April, and we were drenched in sweat. But we had dressed prepared – we made a quick pit stop to the hotel to change into our sports clothes after a busy day of sightseeing.

The views were magnificent. It felt like we could see the whole city, including one of the top 10 tallest towers in the world, Taipei 101, and the brilliant mountains that surrounded us. It was phenomenal – I don’t think I have ever seen such a contrast between a city and the surrounding mountains. It was a different view than we would get from the top of Taipei 101 – but I’ll get to that in another post.

For now, I hope you have begun to realise why this little discovered place is now one of our favourites. It was a short time there, but there is plenty more to tell you about Taiwan. Stay tuned for part II.

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