Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Shanghai-Taiwan 2019 Trip Summary

My trip to Shanghai and Taiwan was an experience.  It seemed to start off a wee bit rough during check-in at Vienna Airport because I didn't need a proper Chinese visa since Shanghai offers their 144-hour visa-free travel option.

I arrived at my hotel on Saturday night.  The rain started later that night.  It rained...and rained...and rained.  This put a damper on my Shanghai experience.  First of all I really shouldn't complain.  Over the past decade of intensive travelling I've never had a serious weather disruption before.  Sure I've been caught in rain before but never enough that my trip would be sidelined.  In the four days I was in China it rained HARD!  I did manage to get some night time photos on Monday evening when there was a break in the rain.  It lasted until late Tuesday afternoon and then it started up again.  So Monday night and Tuesday day; at least I got more or less one full day to explore the city.

From what I saw of Shanghai I liked.  However, I just scratched the surface.  I think a do-over visit is in order.  Especially since I didn't get to visit Nanjing.  Nanjing was the former capital of China until 1949 and it's about 270 km (170 miles) northwest of Shanghai.  It just didn't make sense to ride the train for 90 minutes to visit the city in pouring rain.  So Nanjing is still on the bucket list.

On Thursday morning it was off to Taiwan.  I started off in Taipei and it was great.  It did rain while I was there but it only rained overnight.  The days were gorgeous.

I did a few free walking tours with Like It Formosa.  Highly recommended, especially the food tour.  The food was just incredible especially at the night markets.  I even found a corn dog which I haven't had in about 7 years.  Not quite the same as back home but still good.  The only thing missing was the mustard.

On Monday I took the high speed rail to Kaohsiung to spend a few days in the second-largest city.

Kaohsiung is definitely worth the 90 minute train ride.

The area surrounding the Lotus Pond is awesome.

There's lots to see and you can spend a whole day just here.

I did a couple more walking tours with Like It Formosa in Kaohsiung as well.  There was one rainy day but I used my Shanghai souvenir umbrella and soldiered on.

Just like in Taipei, the food was oh so good.  And cheap as chips.  But for sure it's not low-carb with all of the rice, noodles, and dumplings.

In one of the night markets there was a place that I found fried soup dumplings.  Wow!

One of the best bits in Kaohsiung was Cijin Island and it's only a 10-minute ferry ride across the harbour.  A beach, palm trees and 32℃ (90℉).  It felt like paradise.

On Friday I took the high-speed rail back to Taipei.  It was the start of the Moon Festival so on the train they gave out small moon cakes.

On my last night in Taipei I had to go for a shaved ice.  Really decadent but worth it.  After this trip I'm going to have to put in some extra time on the elliptical machine.

I wasn't ready to give up the 32℃ in Taiwan for the 20℃ (68℉) at home in Brno.  I survived the 24 hours of travel to get home and had to immediately begin Operation Laundry.

I got officially spoiled on the trip home.  From Taipei to Doha I had my first experience in Qsuite which is the new Qatar Airways business class.  It's only available on certain planes and routes.  I had my own cubicle with a door, a fully lie-flat bed, and they gave me pyjamas.  After this, the hassles I had at the start of my trip are nothing.  Travel may never be the same again.

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