I’m in Taiwan!

July 11, 2009 § 1 Comment

…and it feels so good to be able to watch Youtube and visit any website I want!

View from the bus

View from the bus

I landed at Taoyuan airport, right outside Taipei and was met by a college friend of Mrs. Li’s.  The lady who met me (Li Ayi) was so nice and helped me so much my first day!  We took a bus back to Taipei and she helped me settle into my hostel.  My hostel is in a residential type neighborhood and run by two really nice young people named Annie and Season.  I was shocked by the smallness of my room because I had just come from Wuhan where I paid the same price for a room more than twice that size.  However, it has AC, is private, and comes with a desk so all in all, I’m satisfied with my new home.  I opted for a student hostel over staying in a house with people because I wanted to get the real, student experience.  Plus, there are usually lots of interesting travelers that also stay at hostels so I was excited to meet new people.

After checking in, Li Ayi took me to eat lunch at a sushi place that served things on a revolving belt.  I’ve seen places like that in America but the only time I actually ate at a place like that was in Korea, five years ago.  I don’t think the fish was excellent quality but the food was all very solid and I was starving so everything tasted really good.  Eating sushi in Taiwan is MUCH cheaper than eating sushi in America.  I think for the both of us it was only about $10 USD but we ordered a lot!  Taiwan reminds me of Korea in terms of the metro, streets, and stores.  I even heard some k-pop songs playing while I walked around!   I really like it here and am so excited for all the yummy food that I plan to eat!

After lunch, Li Ayi helped me exchange money and get my cell phone hooked up.  I found out that I can use my American Visa debit card here without a service charge at some ATMS here.  Apparently there are several different banks and ATMs in the area.  Some have no service charge while others have a better rate but have a service charge.  Since I am only taking out a little bit of money at a time, I have been using the one without the service charge.

It’s weird coming to Taiwan and spending money from my bank account because it has been so long since I have had to pay for things like food and rent.  I feel like I’m spending money like water here even when only spending $20 or less a day because I am not used to paying for things.  At first I didn’t really buy anything because it was too weird but then I got over it and got some gifts and snacks to take back.  It’s funny.. I think I’ve been spending more money on Allan than everyone else combined on this trip.  Before I left for the trip, everyone said not to get them anything since I was traveling or only asked for really small things like make-up.  Allan, on the other hand, very specifically asked for magnets and mugs from each country.  lol.

Anyway, I ended up buying a new cell phone in Taiwan.  I wanted to use the one I used in Korea but I didn’t have a charger so I had to end up buying a new phone.  My friend Anjul actually gave me the phone he used in Thailand to use while I was traveling but I accidentally left it in America.  But I don’t think it would have worked in many of the countries.  I was able to find a cell phone store that had a special promotion.  They were selling a phone card and phone together for about $25 USD.  When I go back to China I can also use this phone.  I don’t think I will get a cell phone in Japan because I don’t really have anyone to call.  For the few people I need to contact, I think I can just use a pay phone.

After getting a phone, we sat down at a little stand that sells shaved ice with different flavors of syrup and toppings.  They had a few tofu like substances, jelly, beans, etc.  The little man at the stand was so adorable and zany!!  He was tiny but had a huge personality.  He has been operating the same stand for 38 years.  We tried to order two bowls but he said no and only gave us one and told us that if we finished the first bowl, we could order another.  Later when another customer tried to come pay for the bowls he just ate, the old man looked at him, asked him if he finished, and said very cheerfully, “bye-bye!” without taking the money.  The boy stood there a little baffled and then insisted that the old man take the money, which he eventually did.  I love old people with big personalities!

IMG_1722

After the shaved ice stand we took the metro to Jiannan station where we went to the Five-dime restaurant.  We took a new, light brown line that just opened a few days ago.  There is also a huge mall with a Ferris wheel there.  I LOVED the restaurant.  See why for yourself.

IMG_1730IMG_1739IMG_1750IMG_1755I don’t think the pictures do it justice!  A very famous female Taiwanese architect designed and decorated this restaurant.  The theme is “real women” and there are sculptures and drawings of women everywhere.  Even the shape of the building (see top picture) is of two women.  Everything is made from relatively cheap construction materials and the chairs/benches are especially interesting.  There is also a pond at the bottom filled with white carp swimming around.  The creativity and artful nature of this place just amazes me.  I felt like I was in an art museum rather than a restaurant.  If you go to Taiwan I highly recommend this place.  The food is also very good and can be classified as Asian fusion.

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