Taipei - Day 1

Trip Start May 17, 2009
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Trip End Jun 15, 2009


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Arrived in Taipei, Taiwan on time after, what seemed a very long nine hour flight and then had a forty minute bus journey to the grandly named Mirimar Golf and Country Club. Immediately upon arrival we were hustled into the cavernous dining room where we had our first Taiwanese dining experience. It was ok. I had tofu with pork mince, chilli and rice washed down with a Japanese beer.

Up early, as we had to breakfast etc before our guide picked us up at 7am. First birds around the hotel included cattle egrets on the Jack Nicklaus designed greens and more interestingly; Chinese Bulbuls - a lifer for me and [for a bulbul] quite a striking bird. They very soon proved to be the most abundant and ubiquitous bird on Taiwan.

Our Taiwanese guide arrived and introduced himself, 'Sean' or 'Shawn'. A fair dinkum Chinese name. He turned out to be a good guide with reasonable English and fair road sense. He used to be a millionaire however his stocks and real estate investments went pear shaped and he has been 'reduced' to driving for Australian bird watchers. He does not, by his own admission, know anything about the birds of Taiwan - so he is in good company.

First stop was Wulai, a little tourist town south of Taipei city. It is home to hot springs and indigenous people, and the latter dance cunningly outside hotels to entice you and your unsuspecting money in. We would have none it!! Instead enjoying walks through the foggy drizzle searching, occasionally successfully for birds. Highlights? Endemics such as Taiwan Barbet, Taiwan Whistling Thrush and most impressively, the Taiwan Blue Magpie. All up some 33 spp for the day - pretty good when considering the poor weather.

The scenery around Wulai was good - steep mountain sides, clothed in forests, cut by fast flowing rocky streams that ultimately flow into one of Taipei's many rivers. The lunch was a minor banquet including surprisingly good small whole dried fish - spicy and crunchy.

After Wulai we returned briefly to Taipei. We were not seeing Taipei at its best; rainy and foggy. However it's and Asian city and that means crowds, traffic, smog and traffic. It is pretty huge - some 6 million people - and has an amazing system of multi lane freeways, overpasses, underpasses, elevated roadways and bridges everywhere. I'm glad someone else had to do the driving. I was sitting in the front passenger seat occasionally looking for the non existent steering wheel.

Day one ends - 33 spp counted and looking forward to day 2!
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