Alright, enough with procrastinating on this post! I’ve been in Taiwan for a week now, and time is flying by. My first night here I was graced with a good ol’ Christmas party hosted by my host, Drew. So right after I stepped off the plane, I stepped into a brand new social circle. Luckily, everyone here is very welcoming and fun. I’ve had an array of experiences thus far, the highlights being exploring Taipei, traveling to Hualien, and New Year’s Eve. Taipei is very different in comparison to China. The traffic is less erratic, the streets and buildings are newer, and most of the population speaks at least some English. The food is different (but still delicious!) and the vibe is much more calm – island culture is the best!
A few days ago Drew took me with him and some other traveling companions from all walks of the world (Chile, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, UK) and we explored the southern town of Hualien, which was beautiful. We spent time walking on the rocky shore of the warm, blue ocean and then enjoying some local food in the night markets. The next day, we rented a taxi which took us to a number of scenic viewpoints as well as short- and medium-distance (but very steep!) hikes. The scenery was breathtaking with the bluest water I’ve ever seen, deep caves, blossoming flora, and absolutely perfect weather. We got to visit a temple built on a blessed spring, with which I washed my face and hands (it’s supposed to bring prosperity – we’ll see!) and hiked very high to see the bird’s eye view of another very big and beautiful temple. We then hiked down to visit that one as well, and returned via taxi then train to Taipei.
New Year’s Eve was also a good time. “Dressed to the nines,” as Drew put it, we hit the town and witnessed the awesome display of fireworks emanating from the world’s second tallest building, Taipei 101. We were fortunate enough to get a seat right next to the building itself, so it was a great view. Afterwards, Drew and I headed out to a private villa where some friends were staying and we finished up our celebration by listening to classical music and sipping hot chocolate spiked with orange liqueur and Bailey’s. All in all, I can say with much honesty that Taiwan is already turning out to be a memorable life experience and I can’t wait to continue this “worldtripper” lifestyle in 2012!