April 22 – April 25, 2011
Even though each of my travels since moving back to Hong Kong were no more than five days long, I personally do not really prefer these kind of long-weekend trips. In most cases, very little can be achieved in a mere four or five days, which give me a sense of incompleteness when I return home.
Alas, with limited budget and holiday, I continue to take these short trips over not traveling at all. My latest attempt took me to Taipei, my third time to Taiwan and its capital city. While I had fun during my previous two times in town, I didn’t find Taipei to be very interesting. Not as dull as Seoul, but not a place I would want to come back often.
During the Easter break this time, I didn’t travel around Taipei much as I had to attend to some personal matters. What I did experience in this trip, however, was so profound that my perspective about Taipei had been completely altered. I am now opened to coming back to Taipei again if I can’t come up with a strong alternative even though we didn’t visit a single attraction in town. The reason? The Taiwanese people and the impeccable service they invariably provide.
We only had one day of free time on this trip, as the other three days were spent working with a team of locals. Our hosts had a strong desire to display the best side of their country to us. As we were working in their office, we were fed a constant stream of local snacks, ranging from chicken feet to steam buns, freshly bought from different locations around Taipei. Right up until the moment we were to leave for the airport, we were still trying to finish the stack of red bean pancakes in our hands.
Since our hotel was located in Ximending, we spent much of our off-time wandering around the area. Ximending had very little attractions, but we enjoyed our time there. The level of service was several notches above Hong Kong’s, and since we spoke the language we could hold conversations and get to know the locals a little better.
We got a small glimpse of the sightseeing possibilities around Taipei; on Sunday’s afternoon, our hosts drove us to Yangmingshan to visit a field of Easter Lilies (海芋). The lilies were no doubt beautiful, but I was even more inpressed with the scenery of the surrounding valley. We spent the rest of the afternoon at one of the beaches in Danshui, a suburb of Taipei. What we did was quite routine, but I felt more relaxed than during one of our typical weekends in Hong Kong.
Often it is by getting away that you appreciate your hometown more. Compares to Taipei, Hong Kong is no doubt an international city that offers wide-ranging working opportunities and exposures. But if I want to get away from the hectic scene for a few days, I think I have found a pleasant hub that is just a one-and-a-half hour flight away.