Sunday, March 20, 2016

The National Palace Museum

I enjoyed the simplicity of Taipei's transit system. We were always a short walk away from a bus or a train station. You couldn't ask for a cleanlier city. My brother lives in Boston so my experience with big cities has been well Boston. It didn't occur to me till now, how unkempt Boston  really was. In fact all through Asia, Hong Kong , Taiwan, Tokyo, Not a speck of garbage to be seen. No gum hidden under the folds of the seats, Not even graffiti plastered on the side of trains.

Taiwan's Trains were so adorable
A nice change from the Graffiti stained trains I am used to 
I remember one such time my friend and I were waiting for the train and there was a lone cup just sitting on the ground. I guess we have this mentality when it comes to garbage "That's not mine I'm not picking it up" A stranger looked down picked it up and threw it out. This is why the cities are so clean, so many people packed into a small place pitching in.

Some Train stations even have cute artwork like this
Everywhere there seems to be cute characters

We headed back to Taipei,To the National Palace Museum. Although we took many different short bus rides to get there the journey all together was short.It seemed my friend knew Taipei like the back of her hand. It was calming to not worry about which exit to take on the highway, when to stop, all the stress of normal commuting was gone. It made me question would I be happier without a car living in such a convenient area.

We had arrived at perhaps Taiwan's most famous museum. The Royal Palace Museum.

The palace was absolutely gorgeous. The stunning architecture molding into the mountainous that enveloped all of Taiwan. The building was a treasure trove of artifacts, regrettably, cameras were not allowed on the premises. Never before had i seen such ancient objects of historical beauty. Artifacts, dating back to even the Xia Dynasty (2070 – c. 1600 BC). 
It made me reflect on my own country of America how young my country truly was. The artifacts in here many of which were taken from China.China has been around for thousands of years. I do not know much of Chinese history, I want to know more. In school, I was taught nothing of china.
The museum was crowded more crowded than any museum I have ever seen. Shoulder to shoulder I stood with my friend gazing at the artifacts.The rooms dimly lit to keep the artifacts in prime condition. If there is any museum in Taiwan this is the one.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hot Springs

It was almost too perfect, by this time I had adapted to the subtropical climate of Taiwan, not nearly as humid as Hong Kong  but a nice medium. In the past I have always thought of paradise like Florida, Daytona Beach or perhaps Hawaii. I would have never thought my paradise lay as far east as this tiny Island.

It reads Bei Tou Gong Yuan (Beitou Park)

I remember when I was first planning my journey my parents suggested I get some kind of tour group, since I have never been here before. I never imagined my journey would end up like this. We just sort of wandered there was no stress for me, no itinerary to keep. I wasn't required to be at a certain place otherwise my group would leave without me. 

I couldn't help but admire some of the exotic Lotus Flowers

My friend had never been here either. We wandered around a small park in Beitou,  The  lush plant life surrounded the packed buildings as if they were one in the same, giving  a sense of tranquility. In America I have always felt there is a deep separation between nature and the  bustling metropolis. This was one in the same

I don't know what sprouted first the buildings
Or the trees/
The was a period not so long ago (before World War 2) where Japan occupied Taiwan, during the time the Japanese constructed Onsens (Hot springs) with the use of the natural hot springs in this area. This is what makes Beitou famous.

One of the still Operating Hot Sprints in the Area
I couldn't help but admire the carved stone 

 I did enter a few of the OnSens but these were only museums. It truly felt like I walked into Japan a place I would soon visit.
You aren't allowed to wear your shoes inside so you must
wear these sandals
I admired the authentic straw mats along with the finely etched marble water basins. Looking back now I kind of wished I had some time to relax in a hot spring.

We walked in and out of various museums  taking on and off our shoes each time. I find it funny that the first place I go in Taiwan is a place more attributed to Japanese culture. At one point during the day my friend took me inside a local library just for a minute, I was perplexed ,, why are we in a library. she wanted to get out of the heat just for a second haha.

Eventually we did make it the actual hot-spring. The smell of sulfur hurt my sinuses and the steam from the spring was unbearable.The water  was most peculiar of all it was... green!

The Hot Spring did wonders to my camera lens
fogging it up almost instantly.
We didn't stay long to admire the spring, The added heat of the spring was almost unbearable on a hot Taiwan day such as this. Our day was far from over we headed back to Taipei to one of the most fantastic Museum Exhibits I have ever seen.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Taiwan Day 1 Breakfast

Each day I was on this journey I found happiness as I woke. I did not have thoughts of dread as I woke up each day for once in my life each day I woke up not because I had to but because I wanted to. That is not to say I wasn't tired,every inch of my body still hurt with each day I woke. I found a sense of ecstasy which I have yet to emulate again.

I was to meet one of my friends, putting all my trust in her to guide me throughout Taiwan. Communicating was difficult everywhere I traveled, not because of the language, but because my phone had no signal, I had to rely on what little free WiFi i could find. As much stress as this was at time, I found this to be another relaxing part of my travels. I was no longer inclined to check my phone every 5 minutes I could concentrate on the here and now.

I had only been in Taiwan a short while but the atmosphere was so welcoming it did not have the towering skyscrapers of Hong Kong, it was quaint,but it still had the convenience of any large city.

The view from outside my hostel

All the conveniences of home
I made my way to the MTR, there I would meet my friend. We were to spend my entire trip together never before had I had a travel companion. I had always been nervous to travel alone so I never traveled.There was the occasional road trip for a job interview and the one time I traveled to DC by myself on a whim, but never to another country.

We smiled as we met, saying not a word besides good morning and how are you. She spoke plainly, nervous to speak English. Anxious to try my Chinese I asked her where are we going (我们去哪儿)She smiled giggled at my Chinese and said We will go to Beitou.

Trains all throughout Asia are so modern and well kept
Compared to the denseness of the other cities I had been to Taipei was less crowded comparatively.
There was plenty of room to stand  and watch the mountainous landscape as we passed through to Beitou. Everything was so efficient, I still remember the cute sounds the turn-style made as you passed through.

I saw these cute little Characters at Beitou station

I couldn't get over how welcoming the atmosphere was in Taipei was. Everyone was so happy so healthy. We exited the train at Beitou station she looked at me smiled and asked me"Are hungry?" I nodded yes with a big smile.
We walked for a little and found ourselves in-front of what looked almost like a McDonald's, but not. It was called Mos burger. Ordering for the first time in Chinese was not as bad I as expected either! Considering she gave me an English menu Ironic. I ordered something similar to an egg muffin. And I have to say the service compared to any American Fast food restaurant was astounding they brought it right to my table!We walked for a little and found ourselves in-front of what looked almost like a McDonald's, but not. It was called Mos burger. Ordering for the first time in Chinese was not as bad I as expected either! Considering she gave me an English menu Ironic. I ordered something similar to an egg muffin. And I have to say the service compared to any American Fast food restaurant was astounding they brought it right to my table!

Over course of my stay in Taiwan I found myself enjoying breakfast more and more. Breakfast was simple not the Pancakes globed in syrup with bacon and eggs on the side. Enough to feed a man 3 times my size.

They best way I can describe it was they were tiny egg tarts with ham almost like a breakfast dumpling. The portion size was perfect for me and surprisingly filling. My favorite part about breakfast wasn't the food but the beverage. Milk Tea, A combination of Chocolate Milk and tea. I cannot begin to describe the taste. I have yet to emulate its taste in America.