jump to navigation

Danshui, Taiwan September 20, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Danshui, Taiwan” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Hu

Danshui is a small resort town north of central Taipei.  It’s roughly 40 minutes north by train on the Danshui line.  It is pretty easy to get to Danshui but it does take a bit of time.  It’s a nice day trip to get out of the city and enjoy the coast.  Spending an entire trip in only Taipei itself can be a little daunting as city life can get a little stressful.  Danshui is the opposite.  It is a relatively tranquil area where life seems to slow down.  Danshui is known as a place for couples and it’s more famous at night.  It is also famous for being the hot spring town of Taipei.

The first area people will explore from Danshui station is the waterfront.  There is a long coastal road that is lined with various little shops.  As you walk from the station you will see the mouth of the river as it begins to open up to the sea.  The road is pretty small and only local traffic uses it.  There are several shops with various amusement park style games such as basketball.  The entire waterfront is not complete as they were doing construction in many areas.  My guess is that they are trying to create a walkway from the station all the way to the Fisherman’s Wharf which is about 3km away from the station.  About 500m from the station is a small ferry pier which has ferries taking people across the river to “Bali” or up the river to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  I suggest taking the ferry to go up but we decided to walk so we could see more things.

About a third of the way to the Fisherman’s Wharf is an old fort called Fort San Domingo.  It was constructed by the Dutch but from what I was reading, it was controlled mostly by the Portuguese.  I could easily be wrong as there was little information in English.  The actual fort itself was pretty interesting.  It is built on a small hill and the fortifications were simple.  The main fort was a simple castle like structure that housed a few rooms.  Within the complex, there were a few other buildings, constructed of brick.  You can freely walk around the complex and enter the various buildings.  There is a lot of information in English but very little was of interest to me.  It was mostly historical and from my memory, little explained the nature of each room we visited.  When I visited, they also had a special exhibition on Canada which was a little nostalgic for me.  I’m sure they switch the exhibitions from time to time.  It wasn’t a big exhibition but large enough to give people a glimpse into Canada.

The other area of interest is the Fisherman’s Wharf.  It is located roughly 3km north of the station and it is a long walk.  I would highly recommend taking either a bus, the passenger ferry, or to rent a bicycle.  The entire wharf area is a big tourist trap.  It is popular among couples as it is a very romantic setting.  In the daytime, families are more prevalent, as are tourists.  It is more famous at night due to the lights.  The focal point of Fisherman’s Wharf is the Valentine Bridge.  It is a pastel pink bridge that is lit up at night and reminiscent of many other standard bridges in Eastern Asia.  While it is just a pedestrian bridge, it is fairly large for a pedestrian bridge.  You will see dozens of couples taking pictures in the area.  There are even several restaurants and bars on the main floor of the wharf for people to enjoy themselves.  If the noise is too much for you, it isn’t hard to walk a minute away and see an empty area.  It is a remote area of Danshui so other than the main central areas, there aren’t many people.

I mentioned that Danshui is a famous hot spring area of Taipei.  There are several hot spring hotels where you can relax and enjoy the hot spring water in your own hotel room.  From what I saw, there aren’t many onsen like bath houses.  Instead, they have expensive resort hotels with beautiful rooms and private baths.  If you have the time, I think it is a great place to visit.  Unfortunately I didn’t visit the resort hotels, but a friend of mine did.  She said the water was great and she enjoyed multiple baths during her one night stay.  From the pictures of the hotel, I think it was a great location and if I get a second chance to visit, I will probably try to stay a night or two in Danshui.

Danshui, Taiwan is part of a multi part series of my trip to Taiwan.  Please continue reading about  Taipei and Food in Taiwan.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Advertisements

Taipei September 13, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
comments closed

Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Taipei” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/s2liAm-taipei

In June 2011, I embarked on what has become an annual adventure.  Every year, I head out with a couple friends and go on an adventure.  In 2009, I went to Hong Kong.  In 2010, I went to Shimane.  This year we decided to go to Taiwan.  It is a small island where, to be honest, I wasn’t very interested in visiting.  My family is originally from Hong Kong which meant that I grew up eating Cantonese food and hearing Cantonese wherever I went.  I love to eat Chinese food, but specifically Cantonese food.  I had no real images of Taiwan except for the image that it was a cross between China and Japan, culturally.  Little did I know that Taiwan was more Japanese than I could have expected.

Living in Japan means flying to Taipei is very easy.  I was able to fly directly from Haneda Airport to Songshan Airport.  Both airports are located in the downtown cores.  When leaving Tokyo, I could enjoy the view of Tokyo as we departed and on approach I could see Taipei 101.  It is a very convenient flight and one that makes visiting Taipei much easier.  When I researched Taipei, I learned about Taoyuan Airport which is similar to Narita Airport in Tokyo.  There are no direct trains to the Taoyuan Airport and I’d have to take a bus if I flew there.  I was relieved when I found out I could fly to Songshan and just take the train in.  Songshan airport itself is pretty simple.  There are only a few gates as most flights are designed for domestic travel only.  In fact, Songshan Airport is a little ghetto but they are undergoing renovations to improve the facilities a little.  Upon my arrival at Songshan Airport, I was greeted by a wall of heat and humidity.  It was a little difficult to survive as Tokyo was still in the process of heating up to summer temperatures and summer humidity.  The heat an humidity at this time made it a little difficult to get around but thankfully my hotel was located in a central location.  It was close to the electronics area and a short walk to an area near Daan Park with great food.

One of the first places I visited was Ximen.  It is a bustling commercial district with lots of trendy shops.  It is akin to walking around Shibuya in Tokyo.  Lots of young people walking around, but to my surprise there was a lot of Japanese shops.  Everywhere I walked there was a Japanese shop somewhere.  I couldn’t get past it.  I found a lot of famous Japanese shops but mostly Japanese restaurants.  It wasn’t all Japanese as I saw a lot of Taiwanese shops and restaurants too.  Being a commercial district, there was a large karaoke shop nearby where people gather to enjoy singing but from what I heard they enjoy the food a lot more.  Walking around Ximen will eventually bring you to the cinema district where you can enjoy movies at a relatively cheap rate.  Compared to Tokyo, the movies were dirt cheap.  On the other side of the commercial district was a red brick square.  I forget the name of the area but I found out that it was the gay area of Taipei.  It was supposed to be like going to Nichome in Shinjuku, but I found it to be just a simple bar area.  Since I visited the area on a weeknight, there were very few people there but the drinks were fairly priced and the atmosphere was relaxing.

The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, or CKS Memorial for short, is one of the few tourist areas that I visited in Taipei.  I spent a lot of time enjoying the food and seeing the city.  The CKS Memorial is a huge complex with 2 large halls, a huge gate, and the memorial itself.  All of this is nestled within a large park.  I never got the chance to visit every corner of this park but I did see all of the main points.  The two halls were not so special but unfortunately I only visited one of them.  The exteriors of the two halls were more interesting than the interiors.  I’m not too sure on the completion date of the halls but the interior of the hall I visited was very modern.  If I’m not mistaken, it also served as a theatre which made it less interesting for tourists.  The main gate is a famous point for tourists and can be difficult to get good photos depending on the time of day.  The main gate usually has tourists passing in and out of it at all times making it difficult to get the perfect shot.  Pictures can never put the size into scope.  It is much larger than any picture could have conveyed to me.  The memorial hall itself is where all the action is.  During the day, they open the doors and have a ceremonial changing of the guard every hour on the hour.  It is a slow 15 minute ceremony where the guards change from their platforms and show their ceremonial guns.  I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the ceremony but I just happened to be there as they started.  I would recommend taking in the ceremony if you happen to be there during the ceremony.  The night view at the CKS Memorial is also very interesting.  I highly recommend bringing a tripod if you want to take pictures at night.  It is popular for young couples to just hang out and make out around the complex.  It can look romantic but there really isn’t enough privacy for couples.

Taipei 101 is currently the second tallest building in the world.  It is a popular area with many high end shops.  The building complex itself is not that great but the trip up to the top is a must for any typical tourist.  It is a little expensive but the trip up is very quick.  It takes less than a minute to get to the top thanks to the world’s second fastest elevators, conveniently built by Toshiba.  The view from the top is a typical observation deck view.  In reality, I find that when going to observation decks around the world, the view is very similar.  The vantage point is different but the appeal quickly goes away.  You get up there and look out the windows and within a few minutes you feel as if it isn’t special anymore.  Taipei 101 is not immune to that feeling but I don’t regret going up.  My only regret is that the outdoor observation deck was closed when I visited and I couldn’t go outside to the roof.  The observation deck can get very crowded at times and extremely noisy.  When I visited, I saw waves of tour groups go past listening to their guided tour devices.  I also happened to see a group of Chinese models visiting and doing a promotional photo shoot and video.  It was interesting but more annoying than anything.  There are 3 areas of the observation area.  The main area is where you can take pictures of the surrounding areas.  You can go upstairs to the 91st floor which has the outdoor observation deck.  Going down a floor takes you to the exit.  Before you leave you go through the Tuned Mass Damper which is the largest in the world.  It is designed to reduce swaying of the building during earthquakes and strong winds.  After a visit to the damper you must walk your way through a sales area that specializes in coral sculptures and jewelry.  It is your typical rich person money grab and I’m sure they do enough business to get by.

Of course this is just the surface of places to visit within Taipei.  It’s difficult to see and do everything in a few days but I’d say it’s sufficient to get a feel of the city.  Personally, I can’t see myself spending more than a few days in Taipei itself.  If I spent more time there, I’d have to get out a lot more and do a lot more outside the city.  If you plan to only visit the city, you’ll only need a few days at most.  After that things tend to get boring or repetitive.  This is especially true if you have visited other East Asian cities such as Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Taipei is part of a multi part series of my trip to Taiwan.  Please continue reading about Danshui, Taiwan and Food in Taiwan.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

%d bloggers like this: