I had invited Jeff to tour South Korea with me, but he had different plans. He is good friends with Evan and Megan, and so we visited them in Taipei for a week. They were great hosts, and made the trip very easy, which was great after Korea where I was struggling to figure everything out for myself.

2011.05.09 Arrival and Taipei Zoo

After a long trip to South Korea I made my way to Taipei, with even fewer plans. I just knew I needed to find Jeff, and then everything would be better.

2011-05-09 Getting off the aeroplane I found Jeff. He was looking for Blade Steel; little does he know that you don't find Blade Steel, he finds you.

2011-05-09 To make my transition to Taiwan easier, Megan took us to a Korean barbecue the first night. While fun, I dislike the concept of cooking my own food.

2011-05-10 The next day we visited the Taipei Zoo. We quickly found ourselves in the butterfly house.

2011-05-10 Butterflies! photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 A terribly cool looking butterfly. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 Jeff in a protective bubble.

2011-05-10 Dinosaurs at the zoo! I booked it out of there. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 Chow time. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 I'm glad that humans evolved necks which can look down and see our predators waiting at our feet. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 A real, live, panda. I've seen a lot of pandas, and they really do just eat bamboo all day. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 ELEPHANT! photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 This feels like failed evolution to me.

2011-05-10 In case you can't see, "Ireland's proverb says: There are two things in the world that can't be joked: 1. marriage 2. potato

2011-05-10 These lights aren't on. Most animals looked similar, hiding in the shade from the sun. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 Our trip to the zoo involved spending as much time in the refrigerated buildings as possible. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 After the zoo we took the cable car up Maokong to find lunch at one of the teahouses. I took this panorama on the way up.

2011-05-10 Here is the exterior of the teahouse where we ate.photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 Here is the view from the tea house we ate at. Jeff and I found it very romantic. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 I think they were running out of chicken when we ate, as there was quite the assortment of chicken parts in our dish, putting off my appetite.

2011-05-10 On the way down we got this shot of Taipei 101 and Zhinan Temple together with a pylon.

2011-05-10 Close to the zoo is this woman and deer. Great photo opportunity.

2011-05-10 It was a beautiful day, so we went to Taipei 101 next. This picture shows the gondola we rode earlier.

2011-05-10 Tall buildings make me want to take panorama photographs.

2011-05-10 I'm standing next to one of the world's largest spherical tuned mass damper to keep the building steady. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 Here am I as we are walking away from Taipei 101. We took a good photograph here, but I wanted to post the one with me in it. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-10 That night we went to a local street restaurant. This dish is fried shrimp with pineapple, with some mayonnaise and sprinkles. I'm losing faith in America that I found this dish in Taipei.

2011.05.11 National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum is one of the must see tourist attractions in Taipei. After we saw that, we went to the Astronomy Museum, which we enjoyed a bit more. Too much art in the National Palace Museum.

2011-05-11 The next day we headed for the National Palace Museum. I'm not good at understanding busses, so we ended up walking along a stream with gardens on each side. Too hot for this stroll. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-11 The exterior of the National Palace Museum. We almost accidentally went to the temporary exhibit hall (behind us in the photo), but we were directed to the main museum luckily. It was really hot, so I was considering just paying the 15 dollars to enter the temporary exhibit hall. We obeyed the signs which asked us not to take photos, so I have no evidence that we were inside! The largest collection of Chinese historical artifacts means that you see a lot of the same stuff over and over.

2011-05-11 At the metro station that we took to get close to the National Palace Museum, we saw that a Cake Museum was a local attraction. We hunted it down and learned about cakes! In Chinese! There were a lot of children making cakes there, and I don't think they were expecting tourists.

2011-05-11 Next stop was the Taipei Astronomical Museum, which was superb, and highly recommended. Even with this flat earth model.

2011-05-11 While the museum was neat, the space technologies were a little dated. It was cool that I was in this museum while Jeff was wearing his SpaceX shirt, and he can comment on the exhibits as an expert. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-11 I think this is a mockup of the future Mars Science Laboratory. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-11 At the top floor of the museum is a ride which pretends you are on a space capsule flying through the solar system and beyond. It was awesome. Here we are passing the sun.

2011-05-11 During the ride you encounter aliens. ALIENS!

2011-05-11 After the ride, there was a display of the topics covered on the ride. Like ALIENS. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-11 The IMAX theatre displayed an assortment of movies, and unfortunately we missed this one.

2011-05-11 After eating we wandered around a bit and stopped at this temple, which was colourful with all of the gold paint.

2011.05.12 Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Taiwan is a decently sized island, and you can travel to most places by train. Because I was so disorganized, we only made one trip outside of Taipei to Taroko Gorge, and it was worth it.

2011-05-12 The next day we headed out to the Taroko Gorge by train. We left late, so we ended up spending the day in the town of Hualien. In our effort to find food we took this picture of the town. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-12 We eventually found this restaurant, and we lucked out because the owner spoke English! And not only that- he knew that we had no idea what we were doing, and just asked how much we wanted to spend. Then we got a bunch of food. It seemed as if Hualien is a tourist town, and will cater to visitors. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-12 Hualien also functions as a small port, made evident by the boats present in this panorama. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-12 We didn't plan on staying in Hualien the first night, so finding a hotel was a bit of guesswork. However we ended up finding this place, which was cheap, clean, and had free breakfast. It was called something like the Heroes Hotel, hence the mural. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-12 Returning to the theme of us not knowing what we were doing, we took a bus to the gorge and got off about halfway up - when we found multiple buildings (turned out to be Tienhsian). Turns out the bus leaving was hours away, so we stayed for a while, and it was actually really cool. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-13 It is not the rainy season yet (and it didn't rain for us either, despite the weather forecast). People wrote messages, many in English. Our favourite was "Hello World". photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-13 At Tienhsian there is a Buddhist temple which we visited. The temple seemed able to handle many tourists, with grills and vendors, however no one was there (tourists or merchants). photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-13 Here I am at the Buddhist temple. The only person we found at the temple was singing inside of this building. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-13 An overview from our perch at the Buddhist Temple.

2011-05-13 Next we climbed down to where everyone had written with stones. You can see Jeff on the right side of this picture.

2011-05-13 Stopped for a small lunch at a shady-looking vendor. In Taiwan this Hey Song Sarsaparilla is common and delicious! I wish I could find sarsaparilla flavoured soda elsewhere, I might need to make some when I get home.

2011-05-13 After discovering that we had another two hours before the bus left, we went on a hike. It was actually a little difficult, which made the hike a lot more fun. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-13 This hike let us see new scenery. More of the same gorge, but it is all beautiful.

2011-05-13 One feature of our hike was this aluminum bridge, which was crudely repaired with sticks. I'm sure that boulders caused the original damage, but I was still nervous crossing it.

2011-05-13 Along the hike there is a small bamboo patch which grew over the foundations of a small village. The signs along the way told us about how the Japanese occupation of the island had these towns moved so that they were easier to govern. I have no idea how a town could function in this gorge: there didn't even seem to be enough flat room for a house, much less crops or livestock.

2011-05-13 As we returned from our hike, we saw some monkeys doing those monkey things.

2011-05-13 Here I am trying to take a decent photograph on the bus ride out of the gorge. There is scooter rentals in Hualien, and that is the correct way to visit the gorge. We were scared by the potential of rain, but we should have pursued scooters anyway.

2011.05.14 Last days in Taipei

The last few days were pretty lazy. We tried to visit the nougat museum, but we weren't able to find it. Now it only lives in my dreams.

2011-05-15 It rained most of the day, so I left my camera at home (Jeff's is waterproof). Here we are eating ice cream product, delicious. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 We walked through this temple. Temples start looking similar after a while, although this one smelled like incense more than most. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 When we exited the temple we saw this parade. Most of the people walking would do something special when they reached the temple, such as swinging swords, or face the temple and bow. photo credit - Jeff

2011-06-14 There are a lot of bizarre statues in the metro stations. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 Next stop was the Beitou Hot springs. It was already hot enough for me, even with the rain. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 Here is Evan investigating the temperature of the water of the hot springs. It was a nice temperature this far away from the source, however I still was happy being partially dry. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 Another statue in the metro. I don't get any of them. photo credit - Jeff

2011-05-15 Jeff spent a lot of time looking for Engrish shirts. I only had my one carry on luggage with all of my living supplies for two months, so I didn't buy anything while in Korea or Taiwan. photo credit - Jeff

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