From Rarotonga I flew back to Auckland and spent a quiet night there (in Conor’s Top Floor hostel, the same place I stayed the first time around). In the morning I caught a flight to Taipei, Taiwan.
I didn’t realize that it was going to be an 11 hour flight. Something I should have looked up, I know, but I just remembered New Zealand and Taiwan being closer on the map. So since I left Auckland in the late afternoon, I arrived in Taipei around midnight with no reservations, no bookings, no accomodation, no idea whats going on, etc.
I took a bus from the airport to Taipei Main Station with the hopes that someone at the hostel I knew was close by could give me a bed. When I got to the station, though, I realized that the hostel is not very close to it at all. After just a couple minutes of being obviously lost, a really nice Taiwanese lady came to my aid and walked with me for about 30 minutes to the hostel. On the way she even offered me a spare room in her apartment, but I turned her down. We finally found the place, so I buzzed the doorbell. Two american guys were still up in the common room and let me in so I stayed up drinking with them for a few hours until Raul, the owner of the hostel, showed up at around 2am stinking drunk. Raul ended up giving me a single room for $9 / night because he couldn’t remember if there were dorm beds available.
I got up early the next day and headed out to explore the streets. My friend Yutai had recommended some places to see / things to eat and at the top of the list was xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung. Xiao long bao are delicious little steamed dumplings filled with soup and a bite of pork. Din Tai Fung is famous for these, so I went there and ordered some and a bowl of beef noodle. Delicious.
I spent the rest of the day walking around more, and met up with Jon, Seth (the two american guys) and Christine (a Taiwanese friend of theirs) later on to go out drinking. We ended up not being able to find a decent bar open (it was wednesday night) so we bought beers and hung out in front of 7-11 all night, which ended up being tons of fun anyway.
I had to fly out in the morning, but still managed to wake up early enough to go get a nice breakfast and visit the Memorial Hall. Just barely made my flight to Hong Kong…