As we drove to Melbourne Airport in my brother’s car we noticed peak hour was just about over. So we arrived in good time to check in just after 7:30pm for our 10:35pm flight direct to Taipei. The flight was about two thirds full and took off a few minutes behind schedule. As late dinner was served fairly quickly we ate before trying to get some sleep. After a mostly sleepless nine hour flight we arrived very early at about 4:45am Taipei time. Collected our suitcases and passed through immigration. We quickly found an ATM to source some Taiwanese dollars but only in big denominations, so I asked the adjoining money changer to change one into smaller notes for us which they did. Headed down to the food court and Metro Transit Station. First train would be at 6:00 so we sat around the mostly empty food court waiting. Just before 6:00 we bought tickets for the airport train into the main station. On entering through the gates a station attendant directed us to the office to sign out to say we had collected a free face mask. Have to wear one on public transport. On arrival followed the signs to exit the station but unknowingly came out on the wrong side. Did spot these street sculptures.
After walking around a bit in the wrong direction, retraced our path and found the right way to our hotel, Orange Hotel. The reception man took our temperature, gave us a small sprayer bottle of alcoholic hand sanitiser and stored our luggage. He said to come back in about an hour and our room would be ready earlier than the regular 3pm check in time. By the way you don’t have to be a genius to work out the most popular vehicle in Taipei. These were all parked both sides of the road near our hotel. We decided to take a walk around the nearby area, which includes the rather grand looking National Taiwan Museum. It wasn’t open yet either.So we had a look around a section of the adjacent Peace Memorial Park before heading west to Ximen, a more historic part of the city about a ten minute walk away.
Here we saw the historic ‘Red House’ a former market building built in 1908 in the Japanese era.Nowadays it is an arts precinct with boutique shops.We continued walking around the Ximen area, passing this temple squeezed in between the shopsbefore heading back down towards our hotel through the Peace Memorial Park.Looked around the cafes but ended up going into McDonalds where we bought some late brunch. After that we returned to the hotel and our room on the 7th floor was ready. It didn’t take long to settle in as it was quite a compact room. By this time the lack of sleep hit us so we decided to take a nap and not fight it. However we did take the precaution of setting our alarm so we didn’t sleep too long. On awaking we had a shower before heading back to the Ximen district to check it out more. It’s known for its nightlife, cafes, street food stalls and restaurants. It took us about ten minutes walk to return there. The streets were certainly busy.
Even though some people weren’t wearing masks as we had seen on the train earlier in the day we decided we would keep our masks on.We passed the Red House again and quite a few market stalls, shops, cafes and bars were open adjacent to it.
We came to the Nishi Honganji Temple we had seen earlier in the day. This time we went in and had a good look.
We continued our walk through the street food stall area but weren’t confident of making an order, as everything was in Chinese. So we headed back nearer to our hotel where we had noticed a pizza restaurant, attached to another hotel, with an English menu. It was called Tutto Fresco. On entry we had our temperature checked. Hand sanitiser was available too. Karen ordered a Caesar salad and I had a salami and mushroom pizza. I also tried my first Taiwan Beer, a good lager style beer.Dinner finished we returned to our hotel and crashed into bed, ready for a good sleep.(Apologies for the quality of these photos but they were all taken on my iPhone, rather than my camera.)