Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Taipei, Day 2

USD 1 = TWD 32.44; TWD 1 = PHP 1.45

Arrived in Taipei yesterday, spent much of the afternoon and early evening walking around the hostel, which is in the city centre.  

We are staying at the Taiwan Key Mall Traveller Hostel, which is right in front of the Taipei Main Station.  As far as accommidations go, it is pretty basic in the most basic sense of the term-- do not stay here if you expect hand-and-foot service, although the staff (two of them Filipino) are very friendly.  They do serve free breakfast though, which is a deal considering a "suite" costs around USD 25/night.  The hostel is actually located in a residential-commercial building, and the first few floors are an electronics mall and restaurants (all Japanese).  The hostel's rooms are also found in separate floors and areas of the building, so beside your room could be a school, a residential unit, or even a small office.  

My first impression of Taiwan: it's a grittier version of Hong Kong, but less gritty than Manila.  There are lots of scooters parked on every sidewalk, and I could just imagine what rush hour could look like with all these scooters on the street.  Food is always nearby with hawkers or restaurants just a few steps away.  

Tried the famed pearl milk tea (or bubble tea), which was much better than the stuff we get in Manila.  A large serving costs TWD 35, but they use actual black tea and milk instead of the powder mix we get back home.  They are also generous in their serving of "pearls", and for the first time my drink ran out before the pearls.  

Today my Dear is going to spend most of the day with her friends in preparation for the concert they will attend tonight (I'll put the link, but my Dear does not like it when I tell everyone about her fangirling).  I'll probably spend the day walking around Taipei.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Manila, T minus 7 hours

Flying out to Taipei, Taiwan, in a few hours. We got our tickets dirt cheap-- $50 MNL-TLP-MNL via PR. The main purpose for going there is for my Dear to watch this concert with her friends on Saturday. I'm not watching that concert, so I have to find things to do in Taipei. Anyone know of a good walking tour? Of the culinary kind?

Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, is a pretty interesting case-- a de facto state with all (or most of) the requisite state-making activities, but very few countries recognise it as a state, lest they incur the People's Republic of China. This gives rise to a few conventions on how to refer to Taiwan in official documentation: Taiwan, China; Taiwan, Province of China; Taiwan,China (yes, without the space). All in an effort not to piss off the country with the largest standing army in the world.

Anyway, will try to get some sleep. Gotta get the body's defences up. The risks of travel in the time of AH1N1.