Where: Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei earned itself a place on my “top places to live shortlist”, right up there with places like Berlin, London, Chicago, and Hong Kong.
I must say, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Taipei that much either. Not that I had low expectations or anything, I just had a really really great time.
I’m still not sure on the legal status of Taiwan – is it a part of China or not? – but like Hong Kong that doesn’t really matter to me, as it seems to combine the best parts of Western and Eastern cultures to make a truly special place. The people there are friendly, the cost of living is low, the food is spectacular, and the location is perfect. Was is aggressively hot while we were there? Yea. Does it get some gnarly natural disasters? Yea. But those are drawbacks I would honestly happily put up with if I lived there.
I would even go so far as to say I wish I had allocated time from Japan and South Korea to have more in Taiwan – I feel like I missed so much of the country, I would have loved to be able to take some day trips and explore further out in the main city too.
What we did get around to doing was very fun. From a “creative park” more hipster than anything in America to trying new (and honestly questionable) foods in night markets, the only dull moments came when we had to hide it from the daily 13-16.00 rain shower.
My favourite part was definitely Taipei 101 though. I’ve read tons about the skyscraper for years, and it still blew me away to see it in person – not just size, but also beauty! My only complaint is how commercialised it was (who needs a jewelry store on floor 89, really?) but when you see the view you get from the top you’ll forget all about that.
I feel like Taipei, and Taiwan in general, are sometimes forgotten about when people plan trips to Asia, as people favour China or Thailand or Japan or the like. Even I’m guilty of this. But I know if people ask for my advice on where to travel in Asia, Taipei will definitely be a top recommendation of mine.