Taipei – Final Day: Wub-Finding on Overdrive – 1 March 2013
Well, this is it. Taipei – final day.
Comparatively speaking, today was pretty light on the sightseeing front. I left the hostel around ten this morning, and headed straight for the subway.
(If anything, after this trip I can say that I’ve successfully mastered the Taipei MRT. And that makes me more of a man than I already am.)
I headed for the Taipei Zoo, way out on the eastern edge of the city. This place is one of the best zoos on the planet – not to mention the largest in all of Asia – and speaking as one who has only been to one other zoo in his life, this was high up on the list of places I wanted to visit.
And this place did not disappoint.
For a paltry NT$60 (about two bucks) I was able to wander the entire grounds for as long as I wished. And that’s just what I did.
The entire park is full of art. Topiaries were everywhere, and statues and sculptures of the animals contained within were all over, too. All the exhibits were arranged according to their inhabitants’ natural habitats – Formosan Animal Area, African Animal Area, Desert Animal Area, and the like – and it was really easy to traverse. The first thing I saw when I walked in was the flamingo exhibit, right at the end of the huge plaza spanning the entrance of the zoo. I snapped a picture, and moved on.
I spent about three hours in the park. The zoo is absolutely huge; from the gate to the Penguin House (the final exhibit in the very back of the zoo) It spans an area of about a kilometer and a half – not to mention the other side paths and the like. I must have walked four or five kilometers today, and every minute was interesting and fun. Probably the coolest exhibit in the entire place was the Insectarium, which included a huge butterfly house. The best part of it was, because Taipei is tropical year-round, the butterflies spread themselves all throughout the park. They were everywhere, and a few species were huge. Spectacular.
Then there were the gibbons, swinging through their enclosure. Awesome.
The Reptile House was great too, but… they’re just reptiles being reptiles. Fascinating nonetheless.
And the Penguin House. Penguins kick ass anyway. ‘Nough said.
There was a special panda exhibit going on at the zoo, and there was a single panda In the exhibit sitting in a huge pile of bamboo generally making a pig out of itself. And it was insufferably cute.
Afterward I left, and headed back to the subway station. My feet were killing me, so I rode all the way to the other end of the line, not really going anywhere but mainly to rest my feet after walking the entire length of the zoo. I thought of what else I hadn’t done yet, and all through the ride I kept seeing Taipei 101 off in the distance, so large and so far away it was blued out due to the haze in the city. I decided to head that way. The only caveat was that the subway line that stops underneath the building is still under construction, and, because I hadn’t planned to go to the observation deck (I just couldn’t justify standing in line for ninety minutes to spend forty-five at the top, because my feet were still killing me), I decided to go to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to take a few pictures. Lo and behold, the magnificent Taipei 101 towered in the background, allowing for a fantastic photo-op.
I finally got back to the hostel, had dinner, and went up to the roof for one final smoke.
I’m typing this around three in the morning, and I’ve just come back from a stroll through the nearly-empty streets near the hostel. The entire time I thought of what this trip has really meant. I’ve met some interesting people here, explored one of the most dynamic cities on the planet on my own, seen things I’ve only read about or seen on television. And that’s just it – so many of us don’t actually experience the interesting things we see or read about. There’s a myriad of excuses we make. Just to scratch the surface:
… I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, nobody speaks my language there, I don’t know anybody there, nobody wants to go with me…
Though some of these reasons may be valid at some point, they will never be valid at all possible points and that’s something we should never forget. This was a trip I took only because the opportunity presented itself, and I’m a better man for having taken the risk to come here. Taipei has and is everything anybody could ever think they would ever want to see, touch, listen to, taste, smell – experience, period. All it takes is a bit of planning beforehand, a lot of budgeting, a complete suspension of all preconceptions one has about the place they wish to go, and the flexibility to deal with hiccups in the plan as they come; and if all of these conditions are met an awesome travelling experience will always result.
And it all came complete with wub-finding, on overdrive (if this statement confuses you, I direct you to the first post of my blog).
Taipei, it has truly been a hell of a time. Walking through your alleys, slipping through your tunnels, marveling at everything that makes you special to so many – you have a new devotee in yours truly. Now, freezing my ass off for the rest of the winter in Nisshin won’t be so unbearable.
Peace out, Taipei.