Fortunately, after the 14-hour flight, I was not met at TPE airport by that infamous Chinese traveler Jet Lag, but by dashing Taiwanese denizen Wei-Chih.
Wei had disregarded my insistence that he needn’t meet me at the airport, which is a good thing, or I would still be wandering the streets of Taoyuan. Apparently I’m not as worldly as I once was.
It turns out TPE is nowhere near Taipei. We took a shuttle bus to the train station and high-speed rail to Taipei, reaching our lodging (“Hero House“—a hostel commonly used for Veterans) around 11pm, or 7am LA time.
Wei had prepared the ultimate 3-day tour of Taipei, down to the hour.
“At two pm tomorrow, we will go to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial. At three pm, you will experience jet lag.”
“How do you know?”
“I have done this before.”
Actually I did quite well. I lasted until about 7 or 8 each night and then, no matter what I was doing—walking, standing, pirouetting—I would collapse into a catatonic heap on the ground.
Hero House’s location allowed us to walk to several major attractions, including the President’s Building, 228 Peace Memorial Park, and the Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial.
We ate dumplings at Din Tai Fung , a restaurant on the the bottom floor of Taipei 101—the tallest building in the world until 2010.
Taipei 101 was shrouded in fog when we entered the building, and the outdoor observation deck was closed, but by the time we arrived up top, it was a beautiful sunny day and the deck was open.
Afterard we walked to the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial.
At night we slipped into a quiet temple to take a look around before grabbing a bite to eat at a famous night market just outside. I chose not to partake in the dish Wei suggested: “Stinky Tofu”. But I can tell you, the dish lives up to its name. Despite staying as far as I possibly could from this concoction, its scent haunts me to this day.
We were going to check out the Lantern Festival, but at about 8 o’clock, my internal clock realized it was 4am, and I hit the ground in mid-pirouette.