Taipei is an Impressive Urban Escape

August 29, 2017

BY RICKY MONTECILLO

Traveling to other countries allow us to compare them to the Philippines. Not to look down on our own but to learn from the good things we see abroad.

Last 3-day weekend from August 26 to August 28, 2017, my wife Tina, daughter Samantha and I went to Taipei, Taiwan. Working for an airline company, it is easier for us to go on trips owing to our travel benefits.

Travel benefits

We had fun going around Taipei. It doesn’t take much time or days away to see a lot of Taipei. We stayed there for only 2 nights and we covered a lot of bases. It is also not expensive. Our hotel, Midtown Richardson, is right beside the Ximending district. It is nice , clean and priced reasonably. We paid only about 11,000 pesos for the 2 nights. It’s location is perfect. You are right in the middle of the city. Well, that’s why it’s called “Midtown”.

Midtown Richardson Hotel

So what are the things that struck me in Taipei? Foremost is the environment, the city is clean and orderly. The road network of highways and skyways are wide and awesome. Not once did we have to pay toll for the roads.

Taipei’s Highways

From the Taoyuan airport (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek airport), we took a taxi cab to the hotel and it took us about an hour. You may also use the bus, train or the MRT but we chose the cab because since there were 3 of us, it was cost effective.

Upon seeing the airport I was already impressed. The floors are squeaky clean and shiny and the structure is modern. As they say, airports make first impressions about its country and the Taoyuan airport makes for a very good one.

Taoyuan Airport

At the airport, better change your money, either Philippine Peso or US dollar to the TWD or the Taiwan new Dollar as there no money changers in Taipei.

We went around Taipei using the MRT. We bought those 3-day passes at the MRT station, which we used for our entire stay. It’s cheaper and convenient.

Taipei’s efficient MRT

Inside the Train

The trains and stations were interesting for me as I got to observe the culture and people as they commute. There are so many young people and few oldies in the MRT. The commuters are decently attired and even in crowds, they are very disciplined. They line up properly in the train doors, the comfort rooms, the escalators. Even when they are rushing, they don’t cut into others.

It’s simply impressive how the Taiwanese are very organised and disciplined. Samantha even noted, “Dad, they are not noisy.” In the streets and in the trains, they keep to themselves and even youngsters are not boisterous.

In just two days we were able to see the Tapei 101 Observatory building, we went to the Ximending market, the Tamsui or the Old Street by the river, and the night market in Shilin, and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and we even saw some parks and temples.

Taipei 101, the tallest building in the country

In the Shilin Night Market, there were lots of people moving about amid the hundreds of small food stalls and stores. It seemed like a fiesta or a parade but we never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. There are street food vendors everywhere, selling sausages, squids, beef, fish balls, soup, noodles name it!

At the Shilin night market where there are hundreds of street food stalls

It is a street-food heaven!

Having tried many of their food, I needed to throw away some of the used sticks and cartons but I couldn’t find garbage cans. After a while, I asked a vendor where to find one and he told me that in the Shilin district there are no garbage containers.

Street food heaven! in Old Street

Everyone is expected to take home whatever trash they have. I was stupefied! The street market had so many people and lots of street food, yet it was so clean. Imagine Baclaran without trash! Amazing! How do they do it?

My impression is Taiwan has a good economy and it seems that most of the people there are gainfully employed or are earning through small businesses.

They have a strong middle class and few poor people. For such a vibrant city, I can count with my fingers with one hand the poor persons I saw in the streets.

Xiaolongbao

When you have the chance, it is worth the travel and experience. Taipei is vibrant yet subdued. The people are nice and disciplined and you feel safe wherever you go. You can come up to anyone and ask for assistance and even when they cannot speak english well, they will still try to help.

Old Street Bay Side in Tamsui

To be honest, I thought that Taipei was much worse. Maybe I was thinking it was like our own Binondo district, but no, Taipei is modern, clean and its people disciplined.

I am glad we went.

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