A Day in the Capital of Ilha Formosa

Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
Trip End Nov 07, 2009

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flying with China Airlines (Taiwan's  No. 1 Airline), we not only had the opportunity to spend 12 hours touring Taiwan, we were also seated in first class. Don't ask me how because I still don't understand it. Our tickets were dirt cheap, but when I called two weeks ahead to confirm the flight and ask about seating, the nice call agent seated us upstairs in first class. We naturally arrived well-rested and well-fed like luxury travellers excited to venture out and discover the other side of the world without sacrificing the modern comforts of the West.

Several bus companies at the airport provide transportation into Taipeh with no real difference in price or comfort. Our first impression of Taiwan was that of masked men, women and children dressed normal and made up, but covered from cheek to chin. About a third of those we saw were masked and it needed time getting used to. Otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised by the distant politeness of the Taiwanese, the cleanliness of the city, the lush green surrounding it and especially the organized line-ups at subway stations. I'm so used to elbowing my way onto German subway trains during my morning and evening commutes that I had to make the conscious decision to switch off the aggression mode that automatically kicks in when I head underground.

We visited the Royal Palace, some markets, some temples, a beautiful park and Taipei 101 (almost the tallest building in the world) where we drank English tea and ate Austrian cake for $15 in the shopping center below, but there weren't enough activities to warrant a longer stay. Nonetheless, it's worth mentioning that China Airlines offers extended stays in Taiwan for only $5 a day. We considered it because there's beautiful nature to be explored outside of Taipei and the Portugese didn't call it "Beautiful Island" for nothing, but we also only had so much time to explore Indonesia and therefore, we passed. I definitely would recommend China Airlines in the future because we paid half the price that others paid in the same season (€545 FRA-DPS while the cheapest rates available elsewhere in October 2009 were well above €850).
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