Dropped at Taipei Main station
I was prepared that most people in Taiwan didn't speak or understand English but there was not a communication problem at the airport! They had a tourist information counter and the man helped us friendly. We asked for the public bus and he pointed the way at the end of the hall. There we had to buy a ticket so it seemed, 'cause the woman working there was waving with a roll with tickets at us!! When we left the terminal to the parking space where the busses were waiting, I asked a friendly looking man if I could smoke. Aha! My first encounter with a Taiwanese who didn't speak English! But I understood that I could smoke. The man turned out to be our busdriver. When I finished my ziggie, he pointed to the bus and made some noise, he wanted to leave. I got the feeling that he waited for me to finish my cigarette! :S
Unfortunatelly he was a terrible bad driver! He stepped on the brakes every minute even when there was no vehicle in front of him.
People where tumbling through the bus when standing! Ron and I turned into laughter from that moment on and we didn't stop laughing the whole week! The bus stopped after an hour drive at Taipei
Main Station, there we got out.
The first thing I noticed was the enormous humidity! We were standing there on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette and thinking "What now?"
Ron asked a girl passing us where we could find an hotel. Luckilly the girl spoke English and directed us to the Tourist Information counter at the main station. There they helped us great! They had a big book with all kinds of hotel information in it and we picked one out. The girl behind the counter called the hotel for us and told us how to go there.
It would take approximately 10 minutes walk and so we left the station with our backpacks, sweating as hell!
We found the hotel 'Forté Orange' and checked in. So far, so good. The room was great, the most luxurious we had this trip with a kingsize bed, widescreen tv, separated sink and shower, shampoo, bodywash, a comb, a razor, tea, bottled water and even slippers!
We went outside for a first walk through the city and looked to everything as if it was Mars instead of Earth! Almost no English signs, everything was written in Chinese signs. Very confusing! We found a big wall surrounding the city and took the stairs to cross the wall. On the other side of the wall was a river (Danshuei river). The scenery here was beautiful. We walked a lot, got hot and thirsty so we decided to buy a drink somewhere.
Hotel 'Forta Orange'
It stroke me that there were no terraces and I wondered where we could buy a drink! In case of emergency we could allways go to the 7/11 but we prefered a cafe. We found a elderly woman with two younger girls (daughters?) selling drinks. We were saved! But after explaining, asking and begging for anything that was wet we didn't get anything! We talked English, they talked Mandarin... they smiled, we laughed... they started laughing too!! I pointed and asked 'COLA?', Ron sucked on an imaginary straw but it didn't make things clear for the lady. The last drop of fluid left my body through my eyes (laughing!!) when the lady decided to give us something to drink. It turned out to be Aloë Vera with Honey!! Delicious! And we found out what the difficulty was for them: they had several drinks with many different taste, three different kind of cups (small, medium and big) and they just didn't know what we wanted! After finishing the Aloë Vera Ron went back and ordered another one but got Cola instead! We were on a rollercoaster, laughing, laughing laughing! (They did too!)
In the neighbourhood of our hotel we found a tiny restaurant called 'Bambina'.
Hotel 'Forta Orange'
The owner spoke very good English and was very very friendly. We had wine, chicken garlic and pepper, pizza on homebaked bread, capuccino and great chocolates! If this was characteristic for all the food in Taipei, it promised to be a very delicious week for us! Yummie!
We still hadn't found a terrace and I was really craving for a beer at that moment. The funny thing was that when we saw a sign like "Coffee and beer' and asked for beer, the people told us that they didn't have beer and also no coffee... only tea! Can you imagine that we couldn't stop laughing? Why the sign than? We couldn't figure it out and thought it was a funny city. I resigned by the fact that i had to buy a beer at the 7/11 and drink it at the hotelroom. Than we found a sign saying 'cybercafe' (aha! Interesting!).
Hotel 'Forta Orange'
But where ever we looked, how we searched: NO CYBERCAFE!!! We were getting adolescent behavior!! Untill an elderly woman aproached us while we were point at the sign 'Cybercafe' and showed us a stair upstairs near the shops downstairs. I think we looked pretty stupid that point! Hahahaha... Of course! This city has shops downstairs and shops at the first floor!! I bet the 'coffee and beer' was also available somewhere at the first floor!
So finally we found a great cybercafe that served cold beer (YESSS) and we learned an important lesson! You have to look with your chin up high in Taipei!
After our cyber hour we went buying a MRT card for the metro in Taipei. We got a brochure full of information about daytrips in Taipei with it. The last thing we did before going to the hotelroom was visiting a supermarket and asked them till what time they were open.
Hotel 'Forta Orange'
The nice people didn't understand the word 'open'. And again we experienced an hilarious moment in Taipei that day. Ron was putting his arms wide by the word OPEN and closed his arms by the word CLOSE (open-close-open-close)... in the meantime I was loosing my tears again by looking at Ron standing there with his arms doing silly things. The three people working at the supermarket where talking Mandarin and we heard them saying OPEN a few times. They had no idea what it meant! Then Ron noticed a clock in the supermarket and pointed at it. That was the solution, they finally understood! One of them wrote down '24/7'..... and we all laughed about it!
What a wonderful country! Nice and helpful people with great sense of humor, delicious food and beautiful scenery.
Tea and bottled water
The acquaintance with Taiwan was a nice one!