Taiwan is not an obvious choice to visit on the typical Asian backpacking trip and it’s certainly not a place most people start at. So why did I choose it?
Taiwan and I have a history together. I’ve lived there for three months in the summer of 2010 and I have very dear friends there. For some time, there were these thoughts in the back of my head. “You should visit Una and spend Chinese New Year with her. You can finally see all those cool places you couldn’t afford traveling to the last time. You can go to Mosburger. You can eat dumplings in Taipei Main Station. You can ….” And so on.
Taiwan feels like one of my many homes. And what could be a better place to start your trip then in a place where you feel comfortable, safe and surrounded by friends?
I’ll admit, Asia is an exhausting place when you first get there. Everything is so different. You need some time to adjust to the heat, the humidity, the smell, the constant blinking advertisements, the food, the traffic.
Three days after my arrival, I think it was a very good idea to start my trip here.
Flight and Arrival
I have never been sick on an airplane before, but there is a first time for anything, so I basically spend all the time since the plane took of in Beijing until my arrival at Taipei Main Station with vomiting. At the time of landing in Taipei I could barely stand up on my feet, I was so exhausted. The way from the Gate to the Immigration took forever and I was feeling like loosing conscious every second. But there were people around, so if that would have happened someone would have taken care of me right? At least that’s what I tell myself
The immigration process was very easy. The guy saw that I’m from Germany and even started to say a few words in German. He just stamped my passport for a 90 day visa and didn’t even ask about a return or onward ticket. And then he wished me “Auf Wiedersehen”.
When you go through the immigration process, you have to present the Immigration Card, which the flight attendants hand out during the flight. It seems to be important to fill out all fields. There was another German guy asking me about my card, because he was sent away for not filling out the address where he will be staying in Taiwan. He wanted to copy the address I put there (Una’s address), but instead I told him we can find a hostel in my Lonely Planet, which then worked out fine. Well it was good that I was so well prepared
Before I could claim my baggage, there was vomiting again and I hoped it would be the last time. I went to the arrivals area and directly found the Tourism Bureau to open an iTaiwan account for using free Wifi in public spaces. (Unfortunately, this doesn’t work until today). In general, the airport experience was so easy here. I directly found everything: The ATM to get cash, the 7-11 to buy something to drink and to recharge my EasyCard (for paying the Metro, Bus and Train among others), the bus station to board the bus to Taipei Main Station.
The bus ride to the city was about an hour long and unfortunately, I had to vomit again. Luckily, I had brought another one of the airsickness bags from the plane. After we arrived at Taipei Main Station, the guy sitting in front of me turned around and gave me a packet of Hello Kitty tissues. This small nice gesture made me smile
A few minutes later, Una and me jumped in each others arms.
We took the train to Shanjia, which is actually one station further than Shulin, where I used to live in 2010. It’s crazy how familiar everything seems to me. I have been on this same train countless times before. From the train station it’s about a 10 minutes walk to Una’s very nice town house. The whole family is living together under one roof and the Grandmother is also staying there right now. There are four floors, some balconies and a rooftop terrace. In the evening, Una’s mother cooked some noodles and we ate together with Grandma. Una’s sisters were still on their way home from work. It’s nice that after feeling so sick during my travels, I arrived in a place were people take care of me.
I feel very comfortable here