There are three kind of places. Places I like, places I don’t like and places I love. Taipei is a place I love.
Strangely I don’t even know exactly why. But before I talk about this I have to talk about the strange weather and its tragic consequences.
During my first visit two years ago in January it was very cold and wet. It rained almost the whole time and the day I left there was even some snow in the city. The first time for more than ten years. It was quite dramatic and 85 people lost their lives because of hypothermia disease.
This year the cold weather killed 53 people two days after I left Taipei. What puzzles me is that this year the temperature only dropped to 10 degrees Celsius. I still fail to understand why this causes the death of so many people. Here is the report of the local newspaper.
But I think I should try to explain why I love Taipei. I think of course it all starts with the people. The people in Taiwan are just great. There are very friendly and helpful. And they are honest. I remember that I left my umbrella in an umbrella stand outside of a temple I visited. Of course it was still there when I went out.
And Taipei feels save. It’s almost like in Japan but it’s not as modern. Many houses look old which I think is a good thing. It’s not like those lifeless capitals in South East Asia where everything is glass and concrete and no building in the centre seems to be older than ten years.
Taipei reminded me on one of my other favourite places in Asia: Vietnam. Mainly because of the scooters that are still everywhere. You could even find a whole family on one scooter like in the image above. But most of the kids wear helmets here and of course the traffic is far less chaotic.
Some market streets remind me on another of my favourites places in Asia: Chinatown in Bangkok. Again of course not as intense and rough but still exotic.
And last but not least there is the food. It’s just great and it’s cheap too. I had really fantastic Sushi in a super small Sushi restaurants very close to my hotel. I enjoyed it so much that I returned the next evening to eat there again. The coffee I got in Taipei was also fantastic. Much better than the coffee I used to get when travel and also better than the coffee in most of the famous coffee houses in Vienna!
Sushi as good as in Japan and coffee as good as in Italy. No wonder I love the place. And of course there is a local speciality that the Taiwanese successfully exported: Bubble tea! Yes the great milk tea drink with the tapioca balls comes from Taiwan. There are hundreds of variations but I prefer the simple black milk tea with black tapioca balls in a low sugar version. And of course there is the famous pineapple cake. And of course all those Japan inspired deep fired seafood snacks like whole little crabs or anchovies with almonds. Sounds strange I know and might look disgusting but it tastes great.
Taiwan is food heaven!
It’s a rather small country but its output is phenomenal. Just have a look at your computer gear. There is a high chance that you will find a “Made in Taiwan” sticker. Same is true for many other high tech items like carbon frames for bicycles (even though there might be no sticker). A small country full of honest, hard working people. Taiwan is on my “must go there for vacation” – list. Friendly people, super save but still exotic, fantastic food and coffee, still not spoiled by tourism. Maybe this is Asia’s best kept secret!
This is why we travel places. To find that special place. It doesn’t have to be perfect it just needs to be perfect for you: The Perfect Place.
PS: All images take with the Fuji X Pro-2 plus my preferred set of lenses: XF 14/2.8 R, XF 23/2.0 WR, XF 35/1.4 R. The Perfect Camera.