Taiwan: Tainan

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The journey so far

After Sun Moon Lake, it was back on the bus to Taichung. It was much easier this time around-partially because of getting a decent night’s sleep and because I knew my way back to the train station. I was headed down south to Tainan for two nights this time.

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Tainan is the old capital of Taiwan, under the Qing dynasty. It was also a major trading port during the Age of Imperialism, so there’s a lot of interesting history there. It was one of my major points of interest when I decided to fly to Taiwan. That, and no one I knew had traveled to the south. I like taking the path less traveled sometimes.

It seems like less Taiwanese travel that far south as well, because I had no trouble booking a train ticket! The view from the train was surreal. Lots of rice fields and decaying brick structures.

Another reason I looked forward to Tainan was that I was had booked a three star hotel room to myself! The location was behind a furniture warehouse, which explained why it was fairly cheap compared to other hotels. Honestly got some spooky Shining vibes from this place, but I liked that!

The room itself was very nice. You can bet I set myself up with a book, bubble bath, and tea that night. Glorious!

Aw yiss…now this is living. They put me on what was called the fifth floor, but was actually the fourth. They go straight from the third to the fifth floor, which is fairly common in Korea as well. My apartment building does this. The reason behind this is that the number four represents death in many Asian cultures.

Hey, you just made me like the number four even more! Not to mention there was an empty crib by the stairwell on my floor. Both weird and wonderful, in my opinion.

I walked down the street to get some dinner and a few things from the convenience store. The staff at the cafe were nice enough to call me a cab when it was time to head back. Sidewalks are a rarity in Taiwan, and motorbike drivers are nuts! I was not going to risk walking in the roads at night without a reflective jacket. Of all the things I forgot to pack…

There was a buffet style breakfast in the morning, where I had dumplings, tofu egg, and rice porridge. I sampled the pumpkin soup as well, but it was awful! Pumpkin porridge is Korea is sweet and wonderful, but this was salty. Why?!

Again, the hotel staff were kind enough to call me a cab. The main reason I wanted to see Tainan is Fort Zeelandia and the Anping Tree House. These two locations are fairly close to each other, along with the Old Tait and Co. Merchant House. They are all open to the public for a small fee. The Anping Tree House and Old Tait and Co. are part of the same museum. You can enter for 50 NTD. That’s around $1.50 USD.

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Feeling much happier in Tainan!

On the way to the fort, I stopped for some hot red bean soup. It’s more of a broth than I’m used to in Korea. The best way to describe it is if bingsu was melted, but in a good way!

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It’s 50 NTD to get into Anping Old Fort, or Fort Zeelandia as it is also known.

There was a sea goddess temple nearby that I stumbled on.

This area is right near the harbor, which was an 11 kilometer walk from my hotel. Rather than pay for another cab and miss the street view, I took the rest of the day to meander back to my hotel. Best decision. Along the way, I found a cute cafe while in search of another one. The staff were so friendly, and made me feel so bad that I couldn’t speak to them.

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That’s one thing I discovered about myself on this trip. I hate being unable to communicate with others. If I was staying longer, I think it would be worth my time to learn Mandarin. Life is so much easier for me in Korea because I understand and speak a bit. I’m certainly not fluent, but nosiness has been the best motivation to learn a language.

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I had the cinnamon apple crepe on the suggestion of the waitress. Perfect choice!

A little girl wandered over to my table while I was eating. She was fascinated with my camera, so I took her picture and showed it to her. Grandmother was nearby to keep an eye on her, which made me feel a bit more relaxed. ‘Mei Mei’, as she called the girl, hung about my table for quite a while. I drew her portrait as a gift. Just sitting there, enjoying my coffee and writing post cards was so perfect. When I left, Mei Mei (with the help of her grandmother) gave me a lychee jelly. This quiet moment completely made my day!

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Mei Mei

I got lost along the way to my hotel, but in the best way possible. There were plenty of great photo opportunities, and it meant having a longer walk back to the hotel.

I stopped by a nearby convenience store on the way and picked up some black tea and soy milk. Unsweetened soy milk in Korea is never that, but I could find the real stuff at the local 7 11 in Taiwan. I enjoyed that and another bubble bath before heading to bed.

In the morning, I headed out for the commuter train to the main station, which connects to the bullet train. This was about $45 USD from Tainan to Taipei, but worth it. It was around noon when the train arrived.  I had one more half day in Taipei before my flight to Hong Kong!

Looking back, this was my favorite city in Taiwan. While I didn’t get a chance to visit Kaohsiung, which is also in the south, I would make it a priority if I visit again. The south is awesome, and deserves more visitors!

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