Taipei, Taiwan

Throughout our travels, we’d been in clandestine communications[1] with our good friend Peter about potentially colliding in Taipei, where he might be able to finagle a well-timed business trip. Peter is a Seattle-based software magnate who somewhat frequently travels to Asia for work; he had good things to say about Taipei and high hopes for being able to set up some meetings that would make it worthwhile for him to join us. Thanks be to Peter, it worked out, and we booked flights (for $18!!!) from Clarke to Taipei as our 10-day Philippines tour was coming to a close.

[1] Our communications with Peter were not clandestine at all, it just sounded sweet.

Peter wouldn’t arrive until two days after we did, so we were on our own at first. We took a bus from the Taipei airport into the city, and walked to our hostel from there. I remember distinctly loving the city already during that walk. We commented on how it seemed like a big, happening metropolis like Bangkok, but much more peaceful and livable. We passed little restaurants and bars, and wound down residential streets that looked like the street my friend Scott lives on in Chicago.

Our hostel was central, right next to an awesome night market called Linjiang Street. Later in the week we visited the more famous Shihlin Market as well, which was really cool, but we preferred Linjiang[2]. It was just a winding, bustling little street with lights and lanterns overhead, and every kind of stall and shop you could imagine: street food, desserts, beverages, sneakers, clothing, jewelry. Lots of fun.

[2] Insert douchey-traveler conversation in which we argue over which Taipei night market we prefer and why.

We did a little of this-and-that and explored the town until Peter got there. We hit up the world-famous Taipei 101, the fifth(?) tallest building in the world, and took the ride to the top. If you’re ever in Taipei, or ever in a place where there is an absurdly tall building that they charge $15 to go to the top, 20 Liter Life fully endorses it (we know you were itching for approval). It was badass! They had self-guided audio tours that took you around the windows and told you some interesting (and some ridiculously stupid) things about Taipei as you looked out over the city. Then we got to view the worlds largest “tuned mass damper” which is a huge-ass golden sphere that is suspended between the 92nd and 87th floors that sways to offset movements in the building caused by wind or other movements.  Really fucking cool. Like, one of those things that really instill a sense of awe in the face of human ingenuity. Oh, and the observation deck was really cool and I wasn’t scary at all[3].

[3] I was scared as shit.

When Peter arrive we moved over to the Westin, where he was staying, which was a sweet upgrade from almost anything we’d stayed in on our trip. It was wonderful to see Peter. A familiar face – like Trevor & Julie in Switzerland, and John in Thailand had been – is always a beautiful thing while traveling. On the other side of the world, and we’re hanging with one of our best buddies – how bout that?

The rest of our stay in Taipei was awesome. Peter had been there several times before so he took us on some fun excursions including Din Tai Fung (best dumplings in the world) and the Maokong Gondola (which will get its own post, because it was one of the best days of the whole trip).

Other highlights:

    • We ate at a two-story McDonald’s with a bizarre children’s playplace/puppet show stage area.
    • Got cream puffs from Beard Papa, complete with the workers behind the counter singing to us after we placed our order (I guess it’s a thing?)
    • Peter and I had a Meeting of the Minds over breakfast at the Westin. That’s how deals get made and contracts get inked, people.
    • A bizarre American dude we met in the hostel who, said “hit me up on YouTube” and gave us his YouTube handle when we were parting ways [as if it were a totally normal way of keeping in touch… (it’s not)]. This same guy set out to physically destroy property at a bar we were at because he wasn’t fond of his encounter with the bartender. Interesting fellow.
    • I photographed the office of a tech company that a friend of mine works with. It was a cool experience and I got some sweet photographs.
    • We met two Germans and their  Taiwanese friends outside of “Barbie Cafe,” an institution so bizarre that we obviously had to check it out. We ended up not eating there because it was absurdly expensive, but we got some damn fine photos. The new friends were also really fun company.
    • I sat next to the most adorable girl of all time on the gondola ride.
    • We had coffee at the most beautiful coffee truck location on the planet on our hike down from the gondola ride.
    • I went for a long walk and ended up in a cool tea store where the owner and his family sat me down and had me sample their teas.

The following are (way too many) pictures from our time in Taipei.

Taipei, Taiwan
Alley right by where we were staying, near Linjiang Night Market.

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This seafood burger with rice bun was pretty damn good.

Taipei, TaiwanI photographed a tech company’s office in Taipei, this mural was in the office.

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Taipei, TaiwanShilin Night Market food court.

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Taipei, TaiwanShilin Night Market. Spot Franklin!

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei, TaiwanLinjiang Night Market.

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Taipei, TaiwanPeter looking fly.

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Din Tai Fung dumplings.

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Longshan Temple.

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The National Theater.

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Taipei, TaiwanChiang Kai-shek Memorial.

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Taipei, TaiwanThe Maokong Gondola ride.

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Taipei, Taiwan“Cats got nothing to do cafe” aka the coolest place on earth.

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Taipei, TaiwanTea Promotion Center tasting.

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6 Reactions

  1. René

    Looks like a nice trip! And great pics too. Are there plans for an updated gear post?

    • Franklin

      Hey René – Yeah, we’ve been trying to make time to lay everything out and re-shoot. There’ve been some cool updates, including a backpack upgrade for both of us. Thanks for checking in, and stay tuned.

  2. Rebecca

    Awesome pictures! Thanks for them. Sorry the really tall building I dont think I could handle going up but, the view was great.
    Plus the Barbie place I am ok with pink but, not that much. The little girl is really cute.

    • Franklin

      We wanted to kidnap her but weren’t sure if that would be acceptable, given the culture difference. And yeah, the color palette of the Barbie Cafe gave me a headache.

  3. Doug K.

    Taiwan is great—had a (too short) visit there in 2010. Taipei 101 is now #2 after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—and the Damper Baby really is incredible, isn’t it? I’m really glad you enjoyed the tea there; Taiwan is known for some of the best Oolongs in the world. Now I’m getting nostalgic and want to go back…

    Happy travels in 2014!

  4. Amanda

    My daughter and I are going to Taipei in February and now I’m even more excited.

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