Thursday, December 16, 2010

Welcome to Taipei, Taiwan ... Tales of a Newbie Cyclist

Wow, the last few weeks have flown by at warp speed. I am trying to re-acclimate myself to my normal family/work life back in Cloverdale, BC.  It’s hard to fathom that last month I was cycling through Taiwan on the trip of a lifetime.  Now I am at home refereeing matches between by one-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. Who would have thought I’d miss my daily 30 plus KM rides around Taiwan? 

Let me tell you a little about my adventure:

I flew Westjet from Vancouver to Los Angeles.  What a fantastic airline.  Their staff is friendly, professional, and courteous. Their planes are new, clean, have comfortable leather seats and individual entertainment systems. It was an event free flight, which is always a good thing. 

Once I arrived in LAX I connected to China Airlines. The check in attendants were efficient and helpful, and very gracious.  In the lineup I noticed other people all with cycling helmets.  They were to be my fellow travelers and cyclists/mentors. Beverly, Mark B (aka Wireless Mark), Mark V (aka Cola Mark), Kate and myself made up the Taiwan 5.

   Naruwan = Welcome to Taiwan

We arrived in Taipei (TPE) Airport at 835p.  The airport is absolutely beautiful and immaculately clean. The marble hallways glistened under the lighting so that floor and ceiling resembled each other. Each arriving passenger must fill out a customs declaration card and proceed to the customs lineup.  It was all very efficent and off to baggage claim we went.  Our baggage arrived right away, and once the sniffer beagle had alerted its handler to our contraband fruit we were able to leave.  Outside arrivals we met our Tour Leader Extraordinaire, John. 


We arrived at the Howard Hotel, Taipei. It is a beautiful hotel in a great location, and the staff was fantastic. It has several great restaurants, and a huge interior courtyard with a Grand Piano floating in a pond at the base of the glass elevator.  Once we were checked in, the two Marks and myself went on a photographic walk through Taipei at night.

Interior Atrium of Howard Hotel Taipei

My Munchies ..Wok Fried Beef Lays Potatoe Chips and a selection of Taiwan Beers

View from my room at The Howard Hotel.

What a fantastic city!!!  The weather was perfect at 24C (even with Typhoon Megi approaching), a nice balmy evening.  We wandered through streets, back alleys, and night markets.  We were amazed by some people and their fashion, the nightlife, the amount of scooter traffic and the abundance of 7-11 stores (over 5000 in Taiwan). Even though it was near midnight and we were in a strange city there was a real sense of contentment in the air.  I never felt scared or uneasy as we strolled through the dark lanes, avenues and boulevards. After checking out a 7-11 to buy some Taiwanese beer and chips we headed back to the hotel.  Our 830am departure was going to hit us before we knew it.

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