I haven’t posted in a while, so I’ll be catching up on a few days now.
These were some fairly busy travel days, hence the lack of updates. My first mission was to get from Kending back to Taipei, as I was flying from there to Tokyo the next day. Taiwan has an excellent HSR system, but it doesn’t quite stretch to the national park unfortunately. There is a 2.5 hour bus ride from the park to the Kaohsiung. The ride was a bit rough, as I could of sworn the bus had square wheels. Although Taiwan driving is sane compared to other places in Asia like India, the drivers use the gas and horn quite liberally, and only brake when necessary. I also made the mistake of sitting near the front of the bus over the wheels, so the ride was a bit rough but I survived.
The bus dropped me off at the centre of town, but it was a quick 5 stop metro ride to the HSR station. The HSR system is beautiful, very modern, sleek and has a 99% on time performance standard.
Of course since the station was modern, it has a Starbucks! If you ever wondered what Starbucks prices were like overseas, its the exact same price as at home if not a bit more.
The interior was quite nice, for a small premium I opted for business class which has 2-2 seating, instead of the typical 2-3 seating in the rest of the train. The trip time to Taipei was 2 hours, covering almost 400KM. The fastest trains can make it in just over 90 minutes, but the expresses weren’t running when I showed up to the station.
After a smooth ride to the airport, I checked into the same hotel I started the trip with and got back my roll-aboard bag. For the bike trip, I couldn’t drag all my stuff along so I took part of it in a backpack which I was able to load into the saddle bags of the bike.
Since I arrived fairly late, I didn’t have time to see much so I headed for dinner at Din Tai Fung. It’s a very famous, and by western standards very reasonably priced restaurant. There specialty is steamed pork dumplings, but the beef noodle soup I had there was excellent as well. To give you an idea of how popular the place is, the first time I went to Taipei 101 the wait time to get in was 2 hours. That was on a weekend though, on a weekday it took me about 20 minutes to get a table.
All in all, the cost was around $15 CDN including service charge. In Taiwan, and most restaurants in Asia a tip isn’t expected. If the place is fancier, they will add a 10% service charge to your bill automatically. While in the shopping mall near Taipei 101, I did notice a Roots clothing.
This is about as close as you can get to Canada overseas I suppose.
The day after, I had an afternoon flight back to Tokyo. I was in Eva air business class again, and the service was excellent as usual.
The weather was perfect down in Kending, but Taipei was overcast and rainy as usual for May. Next I’m off to Bangkok from Tokyo in an A380!