As my two weeks at the DADA school came to a close it was time for me to prepare myself for an entirely different beast, New Year's Eve in Taipei. This is kind of the whole reason I planned a second trip to Taiwan in the first place, a recommendation from an old friend, a good deal on a flight ticket and I was there. Our plans for the evening rotated back and forth between hiking to a good viewpoint of the 101 building, various hotel parties or just winging it. At almost the last minute Grant found what looked like a good event at Brklyn, near the 101 building so we decided to test our luck and go for it.
I wanted to be back in Taipei by mid-afternoon but somehow found myself hanging out at the DADA school longer than planned and wasn’t back at Grant's house until about 5 pm. I guess my timing was perfect as Grant and his girlfriend had just gotten back from work so we were all able to gather and discuss the plans for the night, which ultimately turned into working on Grants 4000 piece puzzle and drinking beers. Eventually, Grant’s friend Andy joined us, we feasted on cheap dumplings and continued the puzzle, all while the drinking continued.
We eventually pulled ourselves away from the excitement and made our way to the party. Grant lives in a central location in Taipei so we only had to travel a few MRT stops before we arrived amidst the masses under the 101 building. Not sure how fast tickets to the event go we decided to arrive at the start to ensure we got in. Before long I had made new friends and proceeded to spend the night with them, drinking, dancing and talking. We decided to go outside for a better view of the fireworks and I’m glad we did, they were awesome. Our view was amazing, the smoke was blowing away from us and there weren’t an obnoxious number of people around me, all pro’s in my book. Back inside for more dancing we finally left the party in the late hours of the night. One more stop for a late-night snack/early morning breakfast before I finally found myself stumbling into bed somewhere near 5 am, needless to say, it was a good night.
Unfortunately, my new year's day wasn’t quite as productive as the eve before. The drinks from the night left me with a pounding headache, but no worries because I had already planned for that. So, although I only left my room to go to 7/11 for some snacks I’m going say I started 2015 on a great note, I mean I was halfway around the world, not to mention my vegetative state allowed me many hours for Skyping with family and friends.
By Friday I pulled myself back together and spent the day wandering the city, no particular destination in sight. Mostly, I wanted to make up for the thousands of steps I missed the day before and enjoy some fresh air. I had breakfast in Daan Park before moving on to National Taiwan University, where I enjoyed the beauty and atmosphere of the campus. I decided to continue my outdoor theme with a walk through Guting Riverside park which reminded me a lot of the Han river in Seoul, riverside parks never disappoint. I had to make a detour back to the city to satisfy a bubble tea craving, but that too was cut short by an urgent call from my bladder for a bathroom break. I eventually found my bubble tea when I stumbled upon the Hwahsi night market before heading to yet another riverside park, this time to catch the sunset. Although I had no destination and barely a plan when the day started it turned out pretty great.
After my weekend in the country and a day up north, I spent one final day in the city with once again, no plan. I wandered towards Daan park where I enjoyed breakfast and did some “research” for Indonesia, my next destination. I figured I should read up a little on the country before throwing myself into it, although I’ve been pretty good at doing just that. The temperatures weren’t quite what I expected so I went back to Grants' apartment to change and grab an umbrella, should the clouds decide to open up. After a disappointing visit to ESLITE bookstore the week before I decided to give Page One, in the Taipei 101 building, a try. Walking until my feet feel like their going to fall off, visiting bookstores and coffee shops are among my favorite activities while visiting a new (big) city.
Being my second visit to Taipei I didn’t feel an urgency to do anything in particular, I already saw most of the sights so it was more about relaxing. I tried to spend the days as a local would, visiting friends, relaxing in the parks, and finding all the good eats. It was a short visit and the weather was a bit disappointing, but Taipei managed to entertain me anyway. I’m not sure I’ll be planning a return visit anytime in the near future because, let’s be honest, I have way too many other places to go, but I’m happy to have started my new year under the bright lights of such a bustling city.
This country has a smell, I can't describe it and I actually don't know what it is, but as soon as I step out of the airport I know I've arrived. The land of night markets, bubble tea and so, soooo much food, your tastebuds will be tired.