When my climbing buddy asked me if I was interested in a climbing trip to Taipei I was pretty much instantly sold based on the nice looking rock and the promise of fairly quiet crags. It wasn’t until later, when I bought the city guide and started to research online that I realised just how much Taipei has to offer. This makes me wonder now why it had not been on my radar before. Perhaps Taiwan is better known for electronics than its outdoor pursuits or maybe it’s the 4.5 hour flight from Singapore that renders it slightly less accessible for a short weekend away.
Taipei city is surrounded by hills, making hiking not far from the city a very real possibility. In addition to the active elements of the city there is a wealth of culture to be experienced in the form of temples, museums, monuments and shrines. There is also the opportunity for relaxation and indulgence in the hot springs areas, where you can soak in a natural sulphur infused bath. You can buy an Easycard from the airport which can be used on the MRT and buses, making getting around cheap and easy. Top this off with bustling night markets full of unusual street food, quirky things for sale and some of the most friendly people I have come across and the result is an enjoyable, well rounded and worthwhile city break.
Of course it can’t all be perfect and I think the main challenge has to be the language barrier. Mandarin Chinese is the official language and the majority of the written word is in Chinese. This presented quite a few challenges although I am always amazed how much can be achieved with pictures and pointing. I was lucky enough to have a couple of Mandarin speaking friends along for part of my trip which definitely made things go somewhat smoother!