Be warned: This is the TLDR version intended for friends and family. You have been warned!
Two months ago, I embarked on my first solo travels outside of Korea (that’s how fast I write blog posts…). Okay, technically coming to Korea was the first, but it doesn’t count. We were babied from the moment the first bus arrived at the airport and drove us to orientation. From that point, there were co-teachers and various support groups to shepherd us about and hold our hands. Totally different from setting off to another country without any connections on the other end.
Since coming to Korea, I’ve been taking baby steps out of my travel comfort zones. On my first winter break, I traveled throughout Korea on my own. This is a woman who was scared to leave her city for two months, and still was uncomfortable without a hand to hold. While I wasn’t ready to purchase a ticket out of Korea, it was a proud moment for me, the shut in.
I traveled to Japan for the Korean Thanksgiving this last year with two other women. Japan was lovely; and I’m very grateful to have been invited on that trip because it gave me the confidence to go on this next one.
In typical Megan fashion, I researched ‘safest Asian countries to solo travel’ and filled my Google drive with lists and helpful info. Almost none of this was used, but hey! We all have our comfort rituals. Taiwan came up at the top of the list after Japan. Since I’d already visited Japan, I booked a round trip ticket to Taipei for two weeks.
On a whim, I looked at tickets to Hong Kong from Taiwan. A couple of weeks after purchasing my first ticket, a sale on tickets to Hong Kong popped up. A friend said she would be there the second week of my travels. Done!
Anyway, I learned a great deal about my travel style as well as my own nature on this trip. Let’s look!
On Friday, I left directly from work with my one bag. Earlier, I made the decision to travel with just my backpack. It saved me a lot of hassle early on. Really, you can live on three outfits fairly easily if you are unconcerned with fashion. Security was a breeze, and I never had to think about where anything was located.
I bought bag #10 off gmarket, if anyone is interested. I’ve used it since for weekend trips, and am very happy with it.
What was in the bag:
- DSLR and charger
- Two pairs of jeans
- Two shirts
- Make up bag(including sunblock and medication)
- Printed itinerary
- Extra bag
- Food poison medication
- Phone charger
- Portable battery
- International power converter
That’s it! I’m a fairly light traveler when I have to be. Let’s see if you can judge me as such by the end of the trip.
When I arrived at the station, I found that KTX tickets to Seoul were sold out for the next hour. No worries. I sat in a cafe and caffienated(yes, that’s a verb. Even if autocorrect tells me otherwise) while I waited.
Around 8 pm, I arrived in Seoul and checked into my hotel. Here began the domino effect that made the first portion of my trip less than perfect- I couldn’t sleep. A combination of worry and my great luck in being a light sleeper meant that I got three hours of sleep. The upside is that I was two hours early for my flight. Insomnia wins!
My hotel, Hotelette Seoul Station, was about ten minutes from the station. From the station, I was able to exchange my money and take the direct train to Incheon Airport.
I wound up taking around $650 USD worth of New Taiwan Dollars(NTD) and $300 USD worth of Hong Kong Dollars. And yes, I spent all of it and more. This was expected.
After a short flight, we landed in Taipei. My first views of Taiwan were gorgeous. Bright and lush, it reminded me strongly of Southern California. Not exactly, but it’s that beachy vibe.
From Taoyan Airport, I took the 1819 bus to Taipei Main Station. Helpful hint, if you’re staying in New Taipei, you can take the 1843 bus, which is less crowded.
From the train station, I walked the half mile to my capsule inn-Hive House Capsule Inn. I had a great experience here with the welcoming staff, and the wonderful location!
After checking into Hive House Capsule Inn and dropping off my bag, I took my camera and walked to Taipei 101.
The building is impressive, but what I really enjoyed was exploring the streets and alleyways on the walk there. Inside the tower, it’s mainly expensive name brands you can find in any part of the globe.
On the walk back, I stopped into a grocery store for product ogling. Yes, this is one of my favourite activities when traveling.
After getting back to the hostel, I headed to the local night market-Ningxia Night Market. Taiwan is famous for its night markets, where you can buy tons of food and play carnival games.
I got a spring roll, which was tasty, and fresh pressed fruit and veggie juice. Yum!
Again, couldn’t sleep. I estimate it was another three or four hours of shut eye. The inn isn’t to blame. This trip just taught me how terrible I am at sleeping.
In the morning, I had a few hours before I needed to catch a train to Taichung. I was staying at Sun Moon Lake that night, and needed to catch a bus from Taichung. With those extra hours, I grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and took the subway to the Chang Kai Shek Memorial.
Before you judge me for eating at Starbucks in a foreign country, know that it and 7 11 are the only things open when I wake up at 7. If there’s one thing I miss from the US, it’s cafes that open at 7 or 8.
I was not feeling my best after two nights of sleep deprivation. My face says it all.
Elsa’s presence did not improve my mood. When will Frozen die? Not soon enough is the correct answer.
Even with the Elsa invasion, the Memorial is lovely. I stopped to listen to some old men playing traditional string instruments, and watch the park goers feed ducks.
After the CKS Memorial, I headed back to the train station for Sun Moon Lake. Tune in for more!