After a super long flight from LAX and day to unpack and prepare for the rest of the week, I bought a ticket for Taiwan's High Speed Rail from Taichung's Wuri Station to Taipei Central Train Station. The High Speed Rail in Taiwan is exceptional. It's super fast, cheap, clean, and very efficient. It got me from Taichung to Taipei in about 40 minutes. This is the first step of my trip and, so far, it's by far the best part.
This is the view from within. The seats are nice and big with lots of leg-room. It costs 25 extra Nes Taiwan Dollars (a little less than 1 US Dollar) for a guaranteed seat. Periodically along the journey there are vendors with food carts that come through the aisles if you want to buy some food for the trip, otherwise you can just pick something up beforehand at any of the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Taipei's Subway system is a real pleasure to use. Even though at times it can be crowded, the crowds are very orderly and everyone is respectful. Compared with the subway systems of European cities, it's a lot cleaner. I only wish there were more stops throughout the city.
Taipei Central Train Station houses the convergence of three separate train systems: the Subway, the Taiwan National Rail, and the High Speed Rail system. It is huge, but for first timers it is really easy to figure out since all of the signs are in English. The intercom also makes announcements in four languages: English, Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakkanese.
I've never seen one of these in Taiwan before.
First stop on the trip is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Square. It has a new name: Freedom Square.
The building behind me houses a statue of Chiang Kai-shek
It is truly a magnificent building
Longshan Temple is a super active buddo-daoist temple in the middle Taipei. It is not the biggest, nor is it the most famous, but it is probably used more than any other temple in all of the country. I have no statistics verifying this, but it just feels this way.
One of the most special features of the temple grounds is that it has for years been a gathering place for a wide range of peoples. Her are a couple of shots of a group of older men playing xiangqi (Chinese checkers.)
This guy apparently felt that the giant guardian lion statue was a safe place to sit and rest.
Longshan Temple is full of devoted worshipers and different types of religious practitioners. This girl is using incense to pay respect to her ancestors.
The gate at Longshan Temple is typical gate used in Taiwan at Daoist temples, but this one has an LED ticker attached to it for added advertising.
The only place that wasn't full of people was the center of the courtyard because it was directly in the sun.
The bottom trough of this candle holder was full of red wax.
The market place near Longshan Temple has a nice assortment of traditional Chinese foods and snacks. This place is definitely worth a stop on your visit to Taiwan.
This guy had crowd of about 25 people huddled around him. They were all watching him pick the numbers for the next Hong Kong Lottery, which is legal in Taiwan if you just avoid using the name Hong Kong Lottery.
Try your luck!
I mentioned the 7-Eleven of Taiwan. These are everywhere and you can get a lot more from one of these than you can in the USA.
I'm not really sure what about half of these things are that have been stewing in this soup for most of the day. This creates very distinctive smell that I associate strongly with Taiwan's & Eleven culture.
This group of chefs was on the street near Taipei Building 101. I don't know what he wanted, but he was super smiley and friendly.
I decided to treat myself to something sweet after spending the day out and about in the city. This is Paul's Bakery. It is not a Taiwan original, but it is so good.
I joined up with my kids for this part of the trip. This is Sloane and you can tell she is stoked to get to eat Paul's pastries.
Grace, my wife was also there enjoying the baked goods.
Grace's sisters Leslie and Kathy were both also there.
More to come tomorrow. It has been a long day and it seems jet-lag is finally catching up with me.