The Taipei trip was several weeks ago but ever since we got back, Sydney and I have been trying to catch up on work and life. BUT we’re finally free to share the details of our trip — starting with our day zero.
We left on an early Saturday morning and had a long 20+ hour trip ahead of us with a layover in Tokyo, which we dreaded, but man if you have a choice, fly All Nippon Airways (ANA). It was the first time for either of us to fly on ANA, but our flight wasn’t too bad.
For airplane food, the menu was surprisingly decent – like better than the junk I eat on a daily basis, kind of decent. Creamy seafood over rice for lunch and mackerel for dinner? Not to mention all the free booze anyone could possibly need during a flight.
After good amount of sleep thanks to passing out from food coma, we arrived at Narita International Airport where we were greeted with pleasant airport workers, Japanese vending machines, and indoor smoking rooms. Note to self: avoid layovers, whenever possible.
Within a few hours, we hopped on our connecting flight and finally made it to Taiwan on Sunday evening, Taiwan time. Much like Japan (and pretty much anywhere outside of the United States), the airport staff was friendly and getting through customs was a breeze.
Prior to our flight, we purchased a Pocket Wifi for rental that saved our lives multiple times throughout the trip. This tiny little thing cost about $6/day for unlimited high-speed internet wherever you are, granted there’s a signal. Picking up the Pocket Wifi was easy as ordering it on their site and picking it up at the Taoyuan Airport 7-Eleven (yes, they will deliver your order to 7-Eleven, which is apparently a thing) by showing your ID and order receipt to the cashier.
Just turn that shit on, connect to it like you would to any other router, and bam: high-speed internet in your pocket. Also, charge it every chance you get since it’ll probably be on the entire day and you don’t want it to die when you’re in the middle of a mountain or something like that (speaking from experience).
Also, fast-forwarding a bit, sending it back was a breeze, since it included a return envelope. Literally all we did was revisit the same 7-Eleven at the airport to drop it off at the end of our trip.
So yeah, if there’s something I would recommend you prepare for prior to your trip to Taiwan (or anywhere, I guess), it would be to invest in this little guy.
We took a cab from the airport to our hotel in Ximending, which we had a hard time finding and it was actually a bit bizarre. The hotel we booked, inHouse Hotel, looked pretty bougie from our research. However, when we arrived to check in, the staff told us that we were actually “upgraded” (read: relocated?) to their newer hotel location a few blocks away.
They proceeded to escort us to a fancy Lexus while carrying our luggage, and chauffeured us literally for a 2 minute ride to our new hotel location, which had no bearings or markings of a hotel at all – in fact, the sign outside read Inn Cafe. After stepping in to this cafe-hotel, we checked in with the front desk in rusty/broken Mandarin, and were given key cards to our room on the fourth floor. The hotel (which I guess is what we’re going to call it) was actually very nice and modern, and was located smack dab in the middle of Ximending, just steps away from the metro. It only got better when we discovered we had a rainfall showerhead and cable in our room. In all honesty, the move to our new hotel seemed pretty advantageous to us… it was just that the whole encounter felt so shady at the time.
After settling into our room, we went to check out Ximending for a bit, which felt like an area similar to SoHo or Shibuya – young, trendy, and lots of shopping. Also, a shit ton of street carts. Heaven? More on that another day.
Admittedly, we didn’t stay out too long since we were pretty wiped from spending a full day traveling, and called it quits for an early night’s rest.