Before we arrived in Taipei, our dear Denver-ite friends, Mike and Laura, had already checked into our shared Airbnb and scoped out the scene. They had been traveling through Japan and Hong Kong for a few weeks prior (their post coming soon!) and decided to make a pit stop in Taipei so say ‘whatsapp’ to us.
It was incredibly comforting to have our Denver friends kicking it with us in Taipei as we arrived. It helped make the trip feel more like a vacation party and less like a dramatic move to the other side of the world. Both Mike and Laura were the perfect travel partners; incredibly easy going and up for any strange adventure that was thrown their way. Although they will have to come back soon for a Stinky Tofu tasting! Together we shared some wonderful times and will have lasting memories. Check out the highlights from our trip below:
1. Beitou Hot Springs and a random hike
To curb the jet lag, we got up bright and early and headed north to Beitou to check out the hot springs and get our legs moving on a healthy hike. Notable sightings: fist-sized spiders and beautiful city views.
2. The Insecticide Scandal of 2017
Second day in Taipei. 4:07pm.
As we enter the lobby of our Airbnb after a long day of walking around the city, we see two women frantically leaving our building. Eyes swollen, dripping with fluid as they hack up a storm into their napkins. The four bright eyed Americans think nothing of it and continue into the building. As soon as we enter the lift, a deathly swarm of poisonous gas consumes our lungs and we all immediately begin coughing and gasping for breath. Caryn quickly makes the call for us to leave the building immediately. We calmly assaulted the “1” elevator button, and sprint out as quickly as possible. In a state of utter confusion, Caryn messages our Airbnb host a sturdy “WTF” and we learn that they just happen to be spraying the building with insecticide for their annual cockroach massacre. COOL. THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP.
Our host felt really bad though and gave us these beautiful face masks pictured above. After our lungs were aching with insecticide, we figured we might as well keep up the poison trend and enjoy some píjiǔ’s (beers) and mind-numbingly loud music. The story is worth the 3 years of our lives that we lost. Kind of.
3. Markets, markets, everywhere!
Seriously, every corner you turn there is another market offering everything you could never think of. We could identify only about 24% of the items available. The rest remains a mystery of odd scents and unique tastes. Props to Mike for being up to try any weird food items thrown his way.
4. The Elephant Mountain Feel Up
Elephant Mountain is a quick, stair ascending hike nearby to the city. Offering gorgeous surrounding views, it’s definitely a must if you stop over in Taipei for a few days.
As we arrived at the peak of the mountain, this retired Taiwanese man struck up a conversation with us. 30 seconds later, all of us were doing backbends on a jungle gym and identifying pressure points. He had me and Mike lay down on a bench and perform the gnarliest leg stretch known to mankind. I even had to use my safe word to halt the stretch before I tore something.
Mike and Laura were troopers for using their precious holiday time to jaunt around Taipei to look at potential apartments with us. This picture is the view from the first apartment that we all looked at together. Since Mike and Laura are known around Denver for their home’s magically calming interior lighting, we loved getting input from them to make sure we asked the right questions.
Now that we have an apartment, they need to come back and visit!
6. A night of local live music at EZ5 Live House
All four of us are big fans of live music so we decided to check out the local scene. Described as the Taiwanese version of the small pub in Liverpool where the Beatles were discovered, this place was packed on a Saturday night! We were lucky enough to see three of the finalist from Taiwanese Idol perform. We’ll definitely be back again.
7. An epic hike and exploration of Yangmingshan National Park
Who knew Taiwan had such a beautiful landscape? We took the bus to the closest National Park to Taipei, Yangmingshan, and spent the day hiking to the peak and exploring the natural landscape. All of our clothing was entirely soaked with sweat by the time we reached the peak. But the view from the top is unbelievable; totally worth it. They also have some fascinating signage where you can learn about the diversity of vegetation from the eastern and western slopes due to extreme typhoon weather. Very different than good ol’ dry Colorado. Surprise sightings: sulfur springs, water buffaloes and a dude from Denver.
8. Our final dinner together; a plant-based masterpiece
Having a diet with specific needs definitely has its challenges when you’re in a new city. Luckily, Caryn has become quite the little plant-based pro and took charge selecting our restaurants for the week. I didn’t even realize that Taipei is one of the best cities in the world for plant-based eaters, and the four of us were able to try a handful of new restaurants during our first week. This picture was from our final dinner together at a modern vegetarian restaurant called URBN Culture. Tasty beers and delicious food. We’ll be back soon!
Overall, it was lovely having our friends visit us from Denver. We’d love for everyone to come visit us! Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to plan a trip over yourself.