May 26th - June 2nd 2012, visit Carola in Taiwan ...

As Carola has her second semester abroad in Taiwan, this time Taipei, we decided to visit her again ... as her Chinese is getting better, we also included a four-day trip through the country. One thing we can say right away: We've hardly seen other people so friendly, helpful and welcoming in the world than the Taiwanese People!
 

Taipei

Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). After a flight with Air China via Beijing (where we met the world-record holder in flight-attendant-unfriendliness) we arrived in Taipei on Saturday evening and were greeted by Carola after nearly 5 months. We checked in our hotel and had a first walk through Taipei ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... where we saw special shop displays ;-) ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We went to one of Carola's favourite restaurants and it was fantastic! You can see the steamed broccoli on the photo ... really tasty. Btw. the menu was in Chinese and you had to fill it out yourself ... so we would have starved there on our own ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). This sign - for our Aussie friends - was in that same restaurant ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We finished our first night at the hotel bar (one of the few places in Taiwan, where you can get some wine ... as we still had to find out!) with a bottle of Penfolds ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Thomas felt really @ home, when he saw this and enjoyed a couple the next days ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). By the way ... that voucher for ONE drink you get at the Harbour Plaza Hotel in Taipei, when you book a double room (!) ... when we tried to get at least one drink, a glass of wine, we were told that it only applies for a small Taiwan beer ... ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Sunday morning we went for breakfast and had to wait for a table ... Sunday maybe the only day when families can enjoy breakfast together ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... and after that we went to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial ... really impressing ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). One thing there we could witness was the guard change at 12 o'clock ... here three of them on the way to the elevator (!) ... on the way up to the hall ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... where a longer exercising ceremony started ... really complicated, but performed absolutely perfect!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Really hard work ... especially not to laugh when Western tourist take photos ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... and after the ceremony had finished, the new guards had to be properly put into shape for display ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Here Cynthia and Carola in front of the memorial ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We took the underground (btw. similar ticketing system like in Hong Kong with the Octopus Card) ... and saw this sign ... watch the guy's tongue and hand ... ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Very favourable for Thomas' two women was the "electronical occupation status display" of the women's toilet ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next stop was the Longshan Temple ... here the view from the street ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Many many believers were there to pray and give their offerings ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... a lot of joss sticks being used ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... and here "old" reflected in "new" ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We went to a nearby shopping district ... everywhere crowds and crowds ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Food stands are all over the place as hardly anyone cooks at home ... here a flying pancake in action ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). This was one of two tries to get on the famous 101 tower ... but as you can see, we weren't lucky with the weather ... and we were confronted with these huge crowds of mainland Chinese Tourist groups that "followed" us all over Taiwan ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Sunday night we went to a fantastic local dumpling place ... here the restaurant from the outside ... ... cooking was done on the street level - as seen on this photo ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... and transported upstairs, where we were sitting. Another example of the helping and friendly attitude of the Taiwanese people: When asking the waiter to take a photo and he struggled with the camera, someone at the next table just got up and made it!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). This we saw on a building close to the hotel ... they are proud of their country!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We also visited the National Palace Museum (one of the Top-5 in the world), where we had a free English tour @ 10 o'clock ... a wonderful tour guide that explained the stories behind some of the exhibitions ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). In the afternoon we went to Carola's University ... this is the "International House", where she lives ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). There was a gondola up to a mountain close-by, which was closed due to renovation ... so we took a taxi up there to have a traditional tea ceremony ... ... this is how it looked when we arrived!!!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Or to make it perfectly clear what was going on there .... nothing!!! Of course there was no taxi and we were very lucky to find a bus that brought us downhill again ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... where we got a wine and beer at a shop and had it at the International House ... our pre-dinner-drink ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We had dinner at a local restaurant (where the students eat) with her buddy* Sarah and her friend Shirley *buddy meaning her "local helper" in all affairs
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). After dinner we had dessert at the "fruit guy", lots and lots of fresh fruit. So we went back to the hotel for our last night in Taipei.

Tour through Taiwan ... 930 kms

Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next morning we picked up our hire car and drove about 2,5 hours to the middle of the country, to the Sun Moon Lake, the No1 honeymoon location in Taiwan ... We needed a moment to identify our superb 1,5-star hotel as the reception was well hidden behind a fruit stand, which was also operated by the owner (in our defense: we were misled by the name "Tanxiang Resort Hotel) ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). In town we found a cute little bar, very "Western-style", where you could sit outside ... we became "regulars" in the two days we were there ... As wine is not popular in Taiwan, their stock on the shelf was about halfed by us!!!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We were walking around Shuishe a  bit and found this "Harbor Elite Hotel" ... a very wide construction ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Here a view of the Sun Moon Lake from Shuishe ... at least in the morning it didn't rain ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next day we went on a boat tour with two stops. To add some spice to our adventure, Cynthia hit her mouth against a pole on the boat, when a - little - wave moved the boat. It was bleeding heavily and after close examination we found out, her lower corner tooth wanted to have a look outside ... it went through her lower lip!!!! So at our first stop we went to the first aid and got some ice!!!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Here you can see a temple on the hill on our way to the 2nd stop ... this is where our hiking led us to ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). After arrival with the boat we saw this sign ... little quiz in-between: How many toilets were available?
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). It was around 30 degrees and 90% humidity and VERY steep ... lot of mozzies on top ... so we were pretty exhausted when ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... we made it up there ... here the temple ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... but it was worth the effort as you can see with this outlook on the Sun Moon Lake (btw the name comes from the shape of the lake)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Here the three of us up there ... as it had happened before, we waited for the bus to take us down, but it didn't come ... as our boat left at 14:00, we decided at 13:30 ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... to walk down the road to the ferry pier ... we slightly underestimated the distance (2,5 kms) and just made it in 29 minutes to the boat that immediately started its way back!!!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We made another little tour by car to the Winwu Temple at the lake ... again impressive as all over the country ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... this lion figure takes his guarding duty seriously ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next morning we left the Sun Moon Lake ... not before having a coffee ... here Cynthia happy with her "Venti Latte" (bucket size) ;-)
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We took the car towards the East to the Taroko Valley ... and what did we see on the way up the mountains? Little Switzerland! We couldn't find out, what the reason to build it was, but you expect everything else but this in the Taiwanese mountains!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Carola "underestimated" the long and windy roads just a bit ... it was about 170 kms (!) up and down the mountains ... as you can see
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... up to 3.275 metres above sea level (!) ... we were happy that our car made it with all the luggage! Here us on the pass ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next stop was the Taroko Gorge, very famous for the steep precipice ... the red dot is a bus! We went on to Hualien, where we checked in our little hotel, again a very friendly welcome.
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We then decided to drive a bit further South along the East Rift Valley ... as it got late, we wanted to take a short-cut through the mountain towards the ocean ... that's the road we ended up on. After passing many "problematic" spots for our car (ditches and mud) we finally got stuck there ... just too risky to drive on. So Thomas had to turn the car around and we had to go all the way back!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). That night we followed the recommendation of the hotel for a local restaurant ... and the guy on the photo was selected by all guests to translate the Chinese menu into English with his iphone! Something in the translation went wrong, because we ended up with a platter of frog legs (left on the photo)!!!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next morning we headed back North along the coast ... very impressing coastline ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... here family cementries which we found a lot everywhere ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We had a quick stop at the "golden" water falls, some minerals are washed out the ground there ... Our destination was the city of Keelung in the North, where we arrived around 3pm.
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). The first location we visited was the Buddha Hand temple built in a cave!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). That's how it looked in there ... very special ... a lot of hieroglyphics engraved in the walls ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Here a view of Keelung ... with signs like Hollywood!
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Again, nice and funny people, definitely mother and daughter ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Carola & Cynthia at the harbour ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). We climbed numerous stairs up to this memorial ... only 30 degrees and 90% ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). ... and iphone handsfree the Taiwanese way ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). On the night market (actually disappointing, unusual for night markets in Taiwan) we saw this dog being carried ...
One story in-between ... finding some wine after dinner:

When we arrived in Keelung we asked in the hotel for a bar for a drink after dinner:
"There's one on the 4th floor, next block". On the hotel map another bar was mentioned.
While we walked through town we saw a "Sydney Bar". Great that'll do.

After dinner we walked to the Sydney-Bar (10 min), got up to the 17th floor:
"Can we have some wine here?"
"Sorry, bar-keeper is not here, no wine"
"But there's two bottles behind the bar"
"Sorry, don't know how much it costs"
"Do you know a bar with wine?"
"Yes" ... showed us the street from the 17th floor, "Peter's bar", owner Polish.

We walked to Peter's bar (10 min):
"Do you have some wine?"
"Sorry, owner is in China, no wine"

We walked to the "hotel-map-bar" (10 min), couldn't find it.

We walked to the "hotel-recommendation-bar" (5 min): it was a girlie-bar ;-)

Finally we decided to go to the next 7-Eleven to buy some wine to drink @ the hotel room (10 min):
Only 3 half-bottles of Jacobs Creek

Walked to the next 7-Eleven (5 min): No wine at all!

Walked back to the first 7-Eleven, bought the three half-bottles, two beer, nibblies and drank it in our hotel-room ...

Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Next day we left for the final leg of our tour along the very North East ... seeing again bus loads, here in front of the Ocean Park ... and we thought Seaworld @ the Gold Coast was bad ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). In Danshui we had a look at an old fort, San Domingo, dating back to the Dutch, Spanish and English ... here Carola in a pair of clogs there ...
Bild in Lightbox öffnen (open image in lightbox). Well - finally - it was time to say good-bye again ... a last coffee at the fort, a little lunch and then back to the Airport!


It was great to see Carola, without her fantastic Chinese we wouldn't have survived there! Taiwan and its people is a great country, very friendly and helpful ... we had a superb week touring the middle and North of Taiwan in an "adventurous" way!!!