Howdy! It’s been a few days now since I landed in Taipei and I’m doing surprisingly well. Maybe because I was super prepared for the plane ride here I haven’t really experienced any jet lag outside of feeling tired the first day. My digestion has been totally fine which I also wasn’t really expecting. So yeeeeeeey so far so good.
I am currently in my hostel (Bike Tainan Hostel) in Tainan which is a major Taiwanese city in the southwest part of the island and was the former capital of Taiwan. This is our second and final night here and tomorrow morning we are heading off to the island called Xiao Liu Qiu.
Exploring Tainan has been pretty interesting. This city was a major port originally established by the Dutch East India Company and remained under their rule until 1661. It, along with the rest of Taiwan, was also under Japanese rule for a period of time which makes this city, much like Taipei, an interesting architectural mix of Chinese, Japanese, and European traditions.
Since I am writing this on my iPhone I’m afraid I’ll have to make this pretty brief. Overall I am having a very good vacation. The weather has been fairly cooperative since I have arrived. The first few days in Taipei were on the chilly side and rainy, but now especially since we have gone south the weather has been beautiful. Highs of low 20s and lots and lots of sun. (Sorry Canadian friends!). I actually found myself complaining about the heat today and realized how silly that was. It’s really nice to have a break from the Ontarian cold! It has also been great getting on a bike in Tainan. I miss cycling back home so this has been a nice interim bike fix. And I have to say I’m ever so thankful for spending most of my summer cycling in Toronto. Otherwise I think I would be so overwhelmed and potentially terrified sharing the road with the drivers and scooter-ists here (oh so many scooters!) A quick note about scooters. The positive is that because there are so many of them car drivers actually look behind them before opening their doors which makes me feel a lot safer as a cyclist. The negative is that their exhaust is so heavy and polluting. I get a headache after sharing the road with them for too long and after two days of biking around I feel like my lungs are slightly upset. Not the best at all. However, many cyclists and scooter riders here wear masks which I think are actually pretty essential because the air here (in major cities anyway) is quite polluted.
Lastly, this post would not be complete without a mention of the food. So. Much. Food. And it is so so so inexpensive. In Taipei there are lots and lots of vegetarian options which has been nice. Tainan is a bit more for the meat lovers but still delicious! Oh and the baked goods! My gosh, the bakeries will have me coming back home in a wheelbarrow.
Oh and one more thing – temples! Oh so many temples everywhere. I will write another post about how ingrained the belief systems are here into everyday life but I will mention how amazing I find that temples are just all over the place. Tucked away in alleys, in between modern buildings, in the middle of two streets. They are mostly old and the cities just grew up around them, but it sometimes seems as if the city came first and the temples were plopped down in an empty nook or cranny. Really interesting and not something I have seen before.
This has definitely been the most otherworldly place I have been this far in my life and I am excited to see what’s next!