1) a dragon atop Longshan Temple
Like some episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” we found ourselves with a 9-hour layover in Taipei on route back from Dubai – via Singapore – to Vancouver after a month of traveling. Taipei has long been on my list of places to visit and while 9 hours does a complete injustice to seeing a city, I’m still glad we routed through the city. Upon landing, we were delighted to discover (thanks to G’s keen eye) that the Taiwanese Government offers foreigners with a layover of 6+ hours a free guided tour of the city. Needless to say we were all over that in a nano-second and soon found ourselves on a wee bus heading into the city. Yay!
Our tour took in 4 sites – Longshan Temple (which is the most important temple in the city); the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial (aka museum); the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine (aka war memorial), and, of course, the iconic Taipei 101 building. At the base of Taipei 101, we left our guide as all along our singular goal whilst in Taipei was to visit Din Tai Fung, the oh so heralded mecca of xiao long bao soup-filled dumplings. We’ve enjoyed Din Tai Fung now in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Bellevue, WA (of all places) (and G also in Shanghai – go figure).
After finding the restaurant and gorging ourselves silly, we wandered as night fell before grabbing a taxi to take us back out to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport which is located some 40kms outside the city.
We flew EVA Air for the first time from Taipei back to Vancouver; a Boeing 747-400. The EVA Lounge was nice (if a little too Euro-trashy in its decor) and the crew onboard did a good job bobbing around in their 1950s era-inspired housewife-y aprons. Service in business class is no where near Singapore or Emirates quality but was pleasant enough; they are trying. Frankly, I had the seat into sleep mode pretty damn quick after liftoff. G praised the ombus form pillows they doled out.
… and then we were back … just like that …. home, after – literally – circumnavigating the globe.
Gosh, where next?….
2) waiting at Dubai International to board Singapore Airlines
4) the flight attendant even came along and provide ‘turndown’ service
6) Taipei is full of mopeds … mopeds everywhere!
7) offerings at Longshan Temple
10) a guard at the War Memorial
11) G heads into visit Chiang Kai-Shek
15) staff prepare my dumplings
18) arriving at the EVA Lounge
22) G surveys the offerings in the lounge
24) a fitting farewell to Taipei!
That’s a pretty good way to spend a layover. I’m hoping to head to Taiwan this year.