Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Taiwan Vacation - Day One

12/25/2010 - Our first full day in Taiwan. We awoke Christmas morning somewhat rested and still dehydrated. Breakfast at Chinatrust was decent but not as good as it’s been in the past. Many years ago when I was in Taiwan working for Caterpillar I spent weeks staying at this same hotel and the food was definitely better back then. After eating and reorganizing our luggage we were ready to hit the road and head to Taichung, where my wife’s family lives. It was still rainy and dreary, so we walked over to the 7-11 on the next block and pickup some sports drinks and an umbrella. The drinks helped our dehydration. We made it out to the freeway and encountered a minor traffic jam. People were probably headed out for the weekend and all the construction around Jhongli did not help. We stayed in the middle lane most of the time, keeping out of the way of fast drivers on the left and slow trucks on the right. Heck, we were even passed many times on the right. We kept to the speed limit and everyone else seemed to drive at least 10km/hr over, if not faster. It’s better to get there safely than quickly in my opinion. As we approached the outer parts of Taichung we were greeted by brighter skies. Not really sunny, but at least brighter than the area to the north. I don’t think we were using the GPS yet at this point – I had maps printed out of all the locations in Taiwan we planned to visit. We were able to find my in-law’s house without too much difficulty. But then comes the fun part – finding a parking space. My in-laws do not have a car and rent out their parking space, so we must hunt around the city streets looking for a spot. We parked illegally at first to unload luggage then drove around until we found an opening. Throughout our trip parking would always be a challenge. Sometimes we parked at the McDonald’s which is right across the road from the in-law’s building. We were buying coffee there every day, so we felt entitled to use their parking lot temporarily (later we noticed a sign which allowed temporary parking with a purchase of 50NT or more).
With the parking situation settled we spent the day hanging out with family and enjoying a real meal around the dinner table. It was good just to chill out for a while and relax. Jet lag was hitting me all afternoon but I tried my hardest to stay awake. Late in the day we decided to get over to our hotel and check in. We reserved 4 nights at the In One City Inn near FengJia night market. Getting there was quite a challenge. The area around FengJia night market is crowded with people, cars, buses, taxis, scooters and more people. The roads near the hotel are very narrow and just wide enough for our car in most places. People are everywhere and it is like navigating an obstacle course. Thankfully the hotel has parking in the basement levels so that was one less thing to worry about. Arriving in the hotel lobby we immediately noticed the colorful and trendy decor. Very modern and cool! As you walk around inside the hotel there is art and color everywhere. I am really kicking myself now for not getting photos of the hotel interior. The room we had was narrow and long, but the space was sufficient. The bathroom was glass-enclosed so there was not a lot of privacy but the lower sections have frosted glass. The close proximity to FengJia night market is great as you can walk out of the hotel, go to the end of the block and you are basically at the north end of the market. As you walk further down it gets busier, more crowded, with more and more food options. We had some wonderful stinky tofu with quite a spicy kick – served differently than we have had in the past. Later we bought some more typical stinky tofu served with cabbage. Overall the food was OK, not spectacular. We really did not explore everything due to being so tired. We found a cell phone shop in this area and purchased a SIM card for my phone. We could not figure out how to get it working but the next day we noticed the phone was suddenly working. I guess we just needed to wait for the activation to take effect. We went to bed a little early and with the help of Advil PM we both slept great.

Below: 臭豆腐 stinky tofu at 逢甲夜市 FengJia Night Market

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