Taipei in 8 Short Bursts of Adventure
By Wincy Aquino Ong
When it comes to travelling around Asia, Taipei wasn’t much of a top-of-mind destination for me. The monkey temples of Bali and the art supply megastores in Tokyo were more up my alley. That is until I actually spent some days in the beautiful island city of Taipei, two hours on a plane from Manila.
So what’s Taipei like? “Like a greener and more relaxed Hong Kong,” my wife, who had been there on a company outing, once said. “Or maybe it could be the Vancouver analog of Asia.” (Yep, she had me at Vancouver.) But no, words alone cannot describe the essence of Taipei—Taipei-ness, if you will. One can only know about it by living it.
So without further preamble, here’s my Taipei in 8 short bursts of pure and unadulterated adventure…
8. A sense of the alien at the Lungshan Temple of Manka.
It’s such a shame that in Manila, we really don’t have that many temples. Hey, maybe we’re more like a city of churches, no small thanks to years under the Castilian thumb.
Lucky for us, we were brought into see the its many ornate gates, shrines and stupas, not to mention, a throng of incense-lighting devotees right in the smack of the Moon Festival. Intriguing, like raw footage from a docu.
7. A sense of majesty at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.
Like that Abraham Lincoln statue in Washington DC, it was the closest thing to seeing a giant. And the architecture is the stuff of legend. Being born and bred in the Third World, the only big things I see are shoebox-shaped malls—never the tombs of great people. It’s great to feel small every once in a while.
6. A crick in the neck upon seeing Taipei 101.
Speaking of small, you’ll definitely feel dwarfed by this cloud-piercing needle in the business district. There’s a lovely food court in the basement, but the shops here are definitely for the Titas of Manila crowd, ones with black MasterCards to boot. Still, 1,437 feet of something is a thing to be absorbed.
5. A Xiao Long Bao parade across my digestive tract.
Sure, I heard Din Tai Fung already set up shop here in Manila. But hey, nothing beats the genuine article, right? Right on the basement level of Taipei 101, we were treated to baskets upon baskets of different types of Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), from shrimp to mushroom to other more exotic variants. Add to that some mantao (pillow-soft colored buns) to cap the meal. A food trip to end all food trips, indeed!