We're currently visiting relatives in Taipei, Taiwan.

It's Cheryl and E's first time in Taiwan, while the last time I was there was 8 years ago. Back then, I was 20, single, still in uni, and still a baby Christian, as it were (Here's a photo with my brother Henry on the right, and my aunt-in-law in the middle).

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Here's some things (in no particular order) we've learned about Taipei so far:

  • it's not as hot as Malaysia right now!
  • we have really caring family here: my two uncles and aunty have been gracious and hospitable, while it has been nice to walk the streets of 台北 with Henry again (who speaks and reads Chinese very well now, and is an expert on the city)
  • food is cheap – lunch boxes for NZ$3-4, pearl milk tea for $1-2, delicious breads and buns for 80 cents each
  • lots of new and unplanned situations to test us as a family – there's nothing like the stress in the middle of a foreign city to reveal areas of character to grow in, such as pride, poor communication, indecisiveness and lack of servant leadership. Praise God for that
  • there's lots of unexpectedly cool restaurants and spaces and places – we're often surprised at what we find when we walk around a corner (for example, Henry took us to a board games café)
  • their public transport system is fast, efficient, and includes trains, buses, rental bicycles, and a 5km-long gondola line
  • they have a massive tofu section in their supermarkets. In fact, the supermarket we went to was so big it was all underground, had an electronics section the size of a JB Hi-fi store, and had a sushi making area
  • also at this supermarket they sell cat bread (bread shaped like a cat) – E was quite torn on whether to eat it or not (for about 10 seconds)
  • the East-West Bannan (板南) MRT Line – E goes on and on about bananas every time we talk about it
  • everyone here understands at least 2-3 different languages/dialects

Taipei life in photos

These photos aren't so much touristy locations, but just snippets of normal Taipei life.

The streets are bustling with life here. Street vendors offer food to hurried workers on their way to work (in many families both the husband and wife work, and usually don't get home till 7-8pm).
Subway stations are pretty convenient. We're staying with my uncles and aunty on mum's side. They own an apartment in the CBD, and the closest station is a few minutes' walk.
About 50 cents for each one of these. They were tasty!
Cheryl enjoying browsing the street markets (this shop sells everything hair-related).
Riding the subway. When people see E on my back they try to offer their seat, but then I tell them that E really likes holding the hanging straps. Also, it's relatively rare to see young children out and about in the city (Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world); several shopkeepers have given E free stuff
The view from the Maokong gondola (Taipei city with the 101 tower in the background). Since it's part of the public transport system, the fare is NT60, or NZ$2.50. Beat that, Skyline Gondolas!
This place just sells handmade buns and mantou. Delicious.
U-bike rentals (www.youbike.com.tw) – it's such a cool idea, you can use your public transport swipe card to rent a bike, and return them later at any of the U-bike racks dotted around the inner city. The first half hour is free and after that it's NT10 per half hour (less than 50 cents).
Enjoying a morning bike ride along the river.
This is interesting – there are random garden plots dotted around the inner city. My uncle explained to me that developers who own land in the Taipei metro area inevitably want to build tall buildings. So the government has a rule that if you leave the land as a nicely manicured garden for a few years, later on you are entitled to an extra couple of floors in your high-rise.

 

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