Asia is everyone’s dream destination. In Toronto I was surrounded by Asian culture, food and a few of my friends are Asian. So visiting Asia has always been in on list of things to do. But who would have though I would actually get to visit Asia. I am a true believer of asking for what you want and letting the dream come into reality. Say what you want and ask for it. Once you do that, it is already yours.
In return, I have been fortunate to visit Asia twice this year. I went to Tokyo, Japan in February and visited Taipei, Taiwan last week. Both trips were amazing and at times I had to pinch myself. My dream of visiting Asia was achieved.
In this post, I will share my in-depth experience with you. I have created a list of my most memorable experiences in Taiwan but before I dive into my experience, let me tell you some major deets.
I literally found out about my Taiwan trip a week prior. I only had seven days to prep looks, plan a sightseeing schedule and make this trip amazing for me and for you all. My trip to Taiwan was short as usual. I usually do not travel for more than five days at time, including travel time. Shorter trips work better for my metabolism and forces me to be organized with my sightseeing and vacation plans.
With heading Taiwan, I really wanted to maximize my experience. Out of this trip, I needed to capture the city and culture. So I headed to Youtube. I watched over 100 videos on YouTube to prepare me for the food, sites and overall experience of being in Taiwan. My research and efforts resulted in a fascinating trip.
Here are my most memorable experiences:
Travelling 24 hours.
Imagine being stuck on a plane for 24 hours, 14 hours there and 10 hours back
( shorter trip back because of the jetstream). This is the longest flight I have ever been on and guess what, I broke my own rule. I flew economy! Ha! I really couldn’t pay for business class this time but it was a great challenge. Sitting economy helped me really focus on my reading and helped me get mentally stronger.
The flight on United Airlines had a few hiccups. It was delayed two hours on the way to Taiwan. Which is annoying when your flight is fourteen hours. They served North American food non-stop which was a great comfort while on the flight.
The flight was smooth and we arrived safely. Despite the delay, the flight was smooth and full of excitement. Would I fly economy again, NO! But if you have to, it is not too bad and you will be fed. Well done United Airlines. I would be happy to fly Business Class next time.
Staying at The Grand Hyatt Taipei
We arrived late at night and we both were super sleepy. But we woke right up once our Taxi arrived at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. The brightness of the lobby and high quality service was the first notable piece of this moment.
We pulled up in front of the Grand Hyatt Taipei, my taxi door was opened and my Louis Vuitton Keepall 55 was whisked away to my room. We checked in and was welcomed by the kind people at the front desk.
Our room was on the 18th floor and as I looked out the window, I gasped once I realized we were right next to Taipei 101, one of the tallest building in the world.
Our Deluxe suite was spacious and met all of my travel needs. The bathroom contained a glass shower, luxury sink and soaker tub. Our King bed was plush and the sheets were bright white. The lounge area was perfect for reading and laying out outfits. I never bumped into my husband and that usually tells me if the room is sufficient for two people and up to my standard of stay and return.
I changed into a quick outfit for welcome drinks at Ziga Zaga Resturant and bar at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. We entered Ziga Zaga and the room was filled with a live brand singing vintage tunes from the 90s. Think Pink and Sheryl Crow. I really enjoyed this moment because I love music, live bands and most of all, in Asia.
At night, Taipei 101 sparkled through the rain and after settling in, we fell asleep under the Taipei stars and the light of Taipei 101. Dreamy right.
The next morning, we woke up HONGRY, not hungry HONGRY. We were starving and had a full day of sightseeing ahead. We headed down to breakfast and were treated to a lavish spread including Asian, Indian and North American. We were greeted with freshly pressed juice, vegetable dumplings, danishes and sushi. A newspaper was on our table and it was great to read the newspaper with the recent news in Taiwan. This is usually my way of getting into the culture of the country.
TIP: Read the newspaper in the country you are visiting and find out what is happening in the country. It is a great way to get a feel for the culture and the happenings around you.
Later that evening, we were treated to a full tour of the hotel including the Premiere and Diplomat suites are the Grand Hyatt Taipei. Each suite was better than the next. When I thought I had seen it all, I saw more detail and more space.
In my opinion, the best suite at the Grand Hyatt Taipei was the Diplomatic Suite. It had a full walk-in closet with a vanity room. On the other side was a bathroom suite with double sinks, soakertub, glass shower and wet room. I was amazed by its design, neutral colours and calming vibe. Each suite has different features such as meeting spaces, lounge rooms and welcome lobbies.
I felt at home at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. In a hotel with over 800 rooms, my room was always sparkling, my meals were exquisitely prepared and the staff took care of each of my needs. Thank you to the Grand Hyatt Taipei for your hospitality and kindness. We sincerely enjoyed our stay with you. I definitely will be staying at the Grand Hyatt Taipei again when I return to Taiwan and recommend you stay there on your first trip.
Visiting Lungshan Temple
On my list of places to visit was Lungshan temple. Every video I watched on YouYube mentioned that Lungshan Temple was a must visit. I woke my husband up and after breakfast we hopped in an UBER and went to Lungshan temple.
The colours were overwhelming. The red, green and gold was stunning and added more details to the woodwork. LungShan temple is a Buddhist temple in Wanhua District in Taipei. It was packed even in the rain. People were praying and then there was me, walking around in awe. We were allowed to take pictures so I did and I am so happy photos were allowed because I needed to share the beauty with you all.
Visiting the National Theatre and Concert Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial
I usually am not a fan of siteseeing but I had to tour the sites in Taiwan. I was so driven to see the history of Taiwan because of my research and watching all of those YouTube videos. Even with the rain I was determined to visit the National Theatre and Concert Hall.
It was so worth it. The National Theatre and Concert Hall are two mirror image buildings. They were huge, massive structures that took my breath away. Between the two buildings was a massive walk way called Liberity Square leading to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
We walked up the stairs of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial and got there just in time for the Changing of the Guards. Two soliders guard the memorial from 9 am to 5 pm and they change every hour. We were able to witness the changing of the guards which is a very intricate, planned and fascinating process. It was so powerful to witness the control and discipline of the soldiers and I felt the sacredness of the memorial.
From the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial you see the National Theatre and Concert Hall and the Liberty square. If you can see anything in Taiwan, the National Theatre and Concert Hall, and Chiang Kai-shk Memorial in the Liberty Square a must see and a deep experience.
Touring Shinlin Night Market
At night we hung out at the Shinlin Night Market. The night market is like a flea market at night with a lot of food, clothing and people. We walked around and purchased souvenirs, took video and really took in the food culture. Taiwan has a major food culture with a focus on street foods. The night market is the home of Taiwanese food culture. We saw some interesting food such as waffles with ice cream and cilantro, Pepper buns and “ Stinky Tofu” which is literally tofu in fermented vegetable brine. Really stinky. Like smell up the whole market stinky.
Shopping at Taipei 101
Well I have shopped at many malls but nothing as beautiful as Taipei 101. I think Dubai Mall comes close. At one point I stopped, looked around and literally. There was many floors in the mall and each floor overlapped the next. I felt like I was inside of beautiful machinery full of shiny things with unique cement design.
Taipei 101 was filled with luxury stores, bistros and beauty stores. At the top of Taipei 101 is an observatory which shows the Taipei Skyline. If you visit Taiwan
Quick Tips About Taiwan
Take an UBER. It was super cheap to travel via UBER. It was about $5 one way for almost all locations we went to.
English? Do not worry about the language barrier. A lot of people speak English and are able to help you.
Ask about the meat. Sometimes the meat in Taiwan is pork and if you eat pork that is fine but we don’t so it was a challenge finding non-pork food.
Overall, Taiwan was a great adventure. If you have any specific questions about Taiwan feel free to send them to me and I will answer them on my next Q & A on December 22, 2016 at 7 pm EST
Thank you for reading about my Taiwan Journey!