Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taipei - Bad Taste?

It was painful yesterday riding through the city of Taipei. There is a special bike path built along the river which attracts all the local cyclists on the weekends. Sweet families and the weekend warrior crowd the tarmac wreaking havoc for anyone who has bit of bicycle handling, fitness and wishes to ride with a bit of speed. Anthony and I found ourselves frustrated more than joyful on this little excursion.
The river was stagnant which made a horrible stench as we rode up the path. Then the haze made me feel queasy just thinking I was breathing it in and the hoards of people made the ride so slow. I believe there is still room for improvement.
The sweet part was all the little details added to it. I loved the signage, the emblems placed on the path and the entrepreneurs along the way. Little stands with special “bike” accessories littered the trail. Items which were popular included knock-off Buffs, bells, helmets, cycle shorts and jerseys and puncture repair kits among other things. Anthony and I decided that a knock-off Buff was a necessity to keep us from breathing the hazardous air as well as a bell to warn others that we were coming through.
We stopped at a popular food destination and decided to take a look around. I always seem to be drawn to the fresh vegetables and found myself salivating in front of a corn stand. Three types of corn were displayed – white, yellow and purple corn. OK – how can you mess up corn? Oh – give it to the Taiwanese – they can do it. It was the worst corn I ever had. Like rubber on a cob. But I still wasn’t convinced; I tried ANOTHER piece of corn which was even worse than the first. How is that possible? How can you mess up something so wonderfully natural? And unfortunately that was all I could stomach as I wasn’t about to embark upon the other rubber, er, I mean food stalls that were lining the “food court.” Then I found my heart sink when I saw a cage full of young tortoises possibly used for consumption rather than pets as well as live snake/eels.
Fisherman’s Wharf is where we found ourselves but we couldn’t escape from the busy city. By that time we had had enough and decided we would take the train back to the Main Train Station with our bikes. It felt like the longest journey back. There were no bikes allowed at the Main Train Station so we had to get off at the stop prior then navigate our way through the busy streets. Why is it easier to ride in crazy Indonesia than in Taiwan?
It was busy and it was painful and all we could think about was: Get us out of here! We even went so far as checking flights to get to Sri Lanka sooner. After we found out that we would have to spend a few extra nights in Taipei in order to fly to Sri Lanka sooner we decided that perhaps we should just give the original plan a go. Lets not leave Taiwan with this “bad taste” in our mouths, lets get into the country and see what this little island is all about.
So, we are currently on the train heading to Chiayi. I am worried that the food will still be inedible, we won’t be able to escape the “Asian” haze and we will wish we were on our flight to Sri Lanka. But you know, we still need to make double sure Taiwan is not the place for us.


  1. Hi Stephanie & Antony,

    OMG I'm appalled to hear of your dire straits in Taiwan, food-wise & pollution-wise :( I hope that your venture into the countryside provides a suitable tonic. If not, you should def pack out to Sri Lanka fast, as you suggested!

    It was great to meet you guys in Aceh and I hope that all is well with you, and that your tour has many wonderful moments yet to come. It's an inspirational journey that you're undertaking.

    All the best, and I'll be following your progress closely :)

    Justin, Australia

  2. Hey Stephanie,
    I hope the trip is everything you expected it to be. It looks like you are having a great time. I'm just touching base with you to make sure we are still good for the 13th of June :o) Gordon mentioned you having another wedding on the 6th of June, will you be back in time for that one too? I really hope to hear from you and glad you are traveling the world! Bergen