Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lunar New Year 2011 in Taiwan- Day 1 : Taipei

Finally time to talk about my WONDERFUL trip to Taiwan!

In front of Taipei Hostel
We arrived on on a rainy morning in early February. Our first hostel was called Taipei Hostel (http://www.taipeihostel.com/). It appeared to be one of the most popular hostels in Taipei, though when we arrived we were pretty surprised at the appearance. In a large damp grey building overgrown with vines, the lobby floor was covered in paint chips or newspaper covering. However, what we originally took as a dumpy hostel ended up living up to its reputation. You can't beat the location-- we were a 10 minute walk from the central train and bus station, shopping areas, and 3 minutes from the subway. Free high speed internet, board games, and lots of other people in the building.The rooms were large and clean, and each had its own bathroom. And the price was right!

Almost as soon as we arrived and set down our things, we decided we were going to use the day to explore Taipei and all that it had to offer. One problem: it was Chinese New Year (a national holiday) and everything was closed.

A little discouraged, we got on our rain gear and decided to walk to the nearest tourist information office to figure out how we were going to spend our day.

This is where the magic happened (and continued for the rest of the trip).

See pictures after the Jump!

Taipei Train Statio
Lucky for us, the info office was in the Railway Station. Although the next 4 days of our trip included travel to the South of Taiwan, we had yet to book a single mode of transportation. We also hadn't taken into account the fact that everyone was using their holiday to take every train, bus, and car to go visit family outside of the major cities.

Jane (in the back): the single reason why Taiwan ROCKED
We quickly walked through the mostly empty train station and to the desk. The first person to help us was Jane. We asked her about things to do in Taipei, and then mentioned to her that we would like to try to book train tickets. This was a big problem, as almost every train for the next 5 days was fully booked. Jane ended up being such a trooper, calling up train stations, helping us use the Chinese-Only ticket booking machine, and generally being awesome. After much difficulty, we had our travel itinerary booked.

Taipei--> Hualien (Early the February 3)
Hualien-->Taitong (Late February 3)
Taitung-->Green Island (February 4th)
So happy that we had our trains booked!
Green Island -->Taitong (February 5th)
Taitung-->Kaohsiung (Evening February 5th)
Kaohsiung -->Taipei (Overnight February 5th,6th)
Taipei--> Airport (Early morning February 6th)

From being to stressed to becoming so happy for working out the difficult train scheduling, we were all in the BEST mood for the rest of the day. We still had some planning to do for Green Island (book a hostel, book the ferry ticket), so I sent and email to our hostel in Taitung to ask if they could help us.
So many decorations for Chinese New Year

They got back to me by this evening saying they had taken care of both. Cha Ching!

We spent the rest of the day walking around the mostly-quiet city, grabbed some food, and relaxed in the evening to get ready for our busy day the next day.

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