Interlude *short period when a situation or activity is different from what comes before and after.
There was never a plan to visit Taiwan. But when calculating the cost and hassle of extending our Philippines visa for a third month, a search on Skyscanner presented the option of a quick visa run and a few days break from beaches and diving.
As it turned out the timing was perfect as Anne couldn’t dive while on a course of anti-biotics to fix an ear infection. So, a couple of days in one of Asia’s major cities and an automatic 30 day extension on our return to Cebu made sense.
We had travelled to Moalboal, intending to dive (the next blog will update that and other stories), but a short overnight stop at the Tsai hotel in Cebu, and an early taxi to the airport meant we landed in Taipei at 9.15 on a Tuesday morning, where it was cold (well 23 degrees felt chilly) with a heavy Asian downpour that looked set to last. Relishing the freedom of traveling without our dive gear we’d casually thrown a few t shirts and shorts in to a bag … totally unprepared for this kind of climate.
So we negotiated the MTA from the airport (fast, clean and efficient) to the centre of town, grabbed a couple of hilarious waterproofs from the local store and tracked down our hostel.
Back in the city. But so different from Manila and Cebu. The infrastructure works, the pavements are walkable, at night there are lights. There is poverty, pollution and homelessness with an urban population of eight and a half million, but nowhere did we see the aggression, hopelessness and despair we’d seen in Manila.
We planned our time in the town over dumplings in a small street cafe. We felt like we were on a ‘city-break’ and chose to mix some of the classic tourist spots with some of the less well known.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Avoiding the rain in Taipei, we saw this exhibition by Japanese artist Kawaguchi Yoichiro who uses mathematical algorithms and CGI to create structures and graphics imitating cell development. It was fascinating, but these pictures don’t do it justice, it’s an immersive experience that follows decades of experimentation.
With the clouds clearing, we headed to Lin An Tai in the suburbs, a traditional Chinese house, reminiscent, but not as grand as the clan houses in Georgetown, Penang. Somewhat surreally, it was also a favourite venue for wedding photography ‘pre-wedding shoots’. Other than this weirdness, we had the place to ourselves.
This is a temple in the heart of old Taipei, built in 1738, bustling and busy with people of all ages and social class, making offerings, lighting incense and candles … removed to a place of private reflection in a cacophony of others.
I must confess, I didn’t think I’d get Anne up on this, but fair go, she even agreed to the glass bottomed carriage. The route traverses a number of hills to the summit, with small tea plantations and rivers beneath you and views of the city beside you.
Anne, you are legend.☺
Going up a tall building is always going to be fun, but there were two highlights for me here. First the speedy ascent to the 89th floor in 37 seconds, yeah that felt fast. But mostly the tuned mass damper, that limits the building swaying in the wind. It’s like an internal pendulum weighing 660 tons. It can stop the building swaying by up to 1.5 metres, which when you’re standing there seems like a very very good idea.
Moving on …
So, our next post will be all about our last month in the Philippines, and moving on from here. Feeling pretty reflective about a lot of things right now; six months in, potential state of emergency in the Visayas, all that’s been happening back home and in the world.
The things that matter, still matter. X.
New blog soon, click below to hear when