On my first day in Taipei, I decided to visit the Taipei Floral Expo. The Expo is on its final days of exhibit and I figured this is the best place for a solo traveller to go. Besides who doesn’t want to be surrounded by flowers, flowers, flowers…
I walked to Taipei Main Station which is very close to my hostel to catch a metro to the venue. I bought a metro day-pass for NT$200. A 3-day metro pass is also available but would not be economical for me since I would be exploring the outskirts of Taipei the next day. The Expo is right outside Yuanshuan Metro Station, 4 stops from Taipei Main Station.
The venue looks huge from the outside. I paid the NT$100 entrance fee then proceeded to check out the exhibit. The first display that greeted me was that of a lady wearing a huge gown. Right then and there, I was impressed and couldn’t wait to find out what’s in store for me! Of course, I wanted to have a souvenir shot, thanks to the “Aunties” who arrived about the same time I did. If there is a downside to travelling solo, this had to be it. Fortunately for me, all the visitors I approached were just so happy to indulge me with upon finding out I was travelling alone. The next displays were gardens and then a rock band whose musical instruments were made of flowers. They are cute! Of course, this became my instant favorite. The displays had different themes and as I went along I found it difficult to decide which ones I liked most.
The Expo had a lot of visitors when I went, however, it was not crowded such that it prevented me from enjoying the exhibits. It was my first time in this kind of place, apart from the orchid shows my family used to go to when I was younger. I enjoyed taking pictures as much as I enjoyed walking around. Needless to say, pictures do not do justice to the beauty in front of me. I just had to be there and experience the beauty.
The last part of the exhibit was a display of different kinds of orchids. This was when I wished my Mom, Dad and Uncle were here. They love orchids and I know they will be delighted with the collection. Oh well, maybe next time 🙂
There is a souvenir shop selling various items mostly catering to kids. After the souvenir shop was a small food court selling snacks and quick bites. I was so hungry having skipped breakfast so I needed a full-sized meal. Walking around, I found food stalls outside the Expo hall whose patrons were mostly locals. The place was clean and the food looks inviting. I ordered pork knuckles that tasted like pork asado from back home. The serving was huge, I couldn’t even finish it all.
After walking the gardens around the Expo, I walked to Taipei Confucius Temple. The atmosphere was solemn, conducive for reading a (Confucian) book 🙂 I enjoyed a modern simulated chariot-driving game. I stayed there and played for a while. hehe… Steering a chariot was difficult!
Another short metro ride away is the Shilin metro station where the Chiang Kai Shek Residence is a fair walking distance away. I went there because I read from my research that cherry blossoms may already be in blooom. Entrance is free, the better 🙂 The area has huge gardens showcasing different plants and flowers, manicured lawns and sculptured plant displays. There is also a chapel. I did not see cherry blossoms but the vast collection of colors and greens made up for it. Anyway, there are a few more places that we are going to where we may be able to spot cherry blossoms.
I went back to my hostel afterwards and picked up my luggage. I will be moving to a hotel since my sister and brother will be arriving past midnight… NOT!!! I was on my way to the airport when my brother sent me a message that their flight has been cancelled. What!?!?! I was already on the expressway and I had no choice but to take a quick fieldtrip to the airport… Quick = 2+ hours!
There goes my first day of solo travelling in Taiwan. I was looking forward to seeing my brother and sister but that won’t happen until the next day.
Fast forward to Day 2…
I woke up early for a day trip to Yehliu Geopark in Yehliu, which is about 90 mins bus ride. I told the bus driver where I was alighting, hoping that he understood me. It was good that there were other passengers getting off the same stop. The Geopark is off the main road and is a good few minutes walk.
Yehliu Geopark is famous for its sea-erosion landscape, carving rocks into unique shapes and sizes that stimulate your imagination. The more famous ones are the Queen’s Head, Fairy Shoe and Elephant Rock.
I went back to Taipei and hurriedly went to my next stop – the Martyr’s Shrine to catch the last Changing of the Guards for the day. The exhibition was elaborate and impressive. After the changing of the guards, I lingered around the area for a bit. I saw a few cherry blossoms starting to bloom, yey! Having some time left, I proceeded to the Taipei National Museum.
I went back to the hotel to take a rest. The siblings arrive past midnight (for sure this time) and I have to pick them up from the airport (again). Travelling solo in Taiwan ends today 🙂
Travelling around Taipei in 2 days, I could say that Taipei is a safe and easily navigable city. The transportation system is efficient and most of the more famous sights are easily reached using the metro. At the start, you may feel intimated by the language barrier, but all these melt away when you experience the helpfulness and hospitality of the Taiwanese people.
I also found out that whenever they find out I am travelling alone, they became more gracious in taking my photos. There was one lady I approached in Yehliu to take one photo but she insisted on taking sevaral more, even asking me to go to a different backdrop 🙂 Another group of aunties and uncle were more than happy to take my photos. They let me pose several times by the rock formations, hehe… I was not photo-deprived the whole 2 days.
I did have a fantastic “alone” time. I held my own pace, ate if I wanted to, stopped if I needed to. Taipei has a calming, relaxing vibe when compared to the chaos and noise that other cities inherently have. I went around, got tired from all that walking, but I didn’t feel stressed at all.
If I would have a chance to go back alone, I would gladly embrace the opportunity 🙂