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Tour of Taiwan 2002
Pros: terrific place, entertaining and adventurous, good food, fantastic people, stunning views, hot springs
Cons: none

East Coast, Taiwan
Wednesday, Jul 30, 2003 15:45

Taiwan Travel Diary 2002 Over the last 10 days I have seen many beautiful places, spent time with some fantastic people and experienced many things that make Taiwan an island of such amazing contrasts (in my eyes anyway). The following is a week long diary of events during my TV Tour of Terrific Taiwan.

Saturday, February 9th
My birthday came a day early as a group of us hopped on the bus to take us up to Taipei for a night of partying. For anyone who has taken the luxury buses up to Taipei, I can report they have got even better. One now has their own arm side TV screen, on which they can watch their choice of movies or play video games. After a good journey up to the big smoke, we checked into our hotel, cracked open a few beers and got ready for the night ahead. We then headed off to a great little Spanish restaurant, where we met up with Brian, Nicky and a little later Julie and Marrita. The food was superb and I even had my own birthday sweet. After the meal, we then headed off to Brown Sugar, a jazz cafe in the centre of town. After a few cocktails in there, we headed for Carnigies, which is where the party really kicked off.

Nafisa, Nicky and Sammy were the first three on the bar. They were shortly followed by the rest of us (apart from Matt, who kept his feet firmly on the floor). Julie and I set the bar alight with our fancy footwork (I thought we were pretty good anyway). Sadly, this was the last time that we would be able to groove the night away, as Julie was leaving Taiwan at the end of the week. Life in Hsinchu won't be the same without her sweet smile, daring dance moves and spellbinding stories.(I'll miss you- I've kept my e-mail promise!) After a few hours of pretty crazy dancing (a few people were seen to jump off the bar to avoid injury), we headed off for some late night food and then some more drinking back at the hotel. The night concluded with bodies and beer cans strewn all over the room. A top night all round!

Sunday was pretty much a recovery day. We had a great English style breakfast and then got a taxi into town. I proceeded to treat myself to digital camera, which now makes loading pictures onto my website a damn lot quicker. We rolled back into Hsinchu around 6.00, said goodbye to Julie for the last time and then crashed out early, in preparation for the start of the road trip.

Monday marked Chinese New Eve. More importantly, it marked the start of the Hsinchu Fab 4's KTV Tour of Taiwan. Myself, Sammy and Joseph got over to Matt's place bang on 8.00 to start the adventure. After having the initial problems of driving right through the middle of the local market, we got on to the open road. We had a good journey over to Haullian, with little traffic on the roads. We made one little detour up into the mountains, but apart from that we had no directional problems (we saved those for the journey back).

We had no problems finding a comfortable hotel in Haullian and after a few beers in the room we went out to celebrate the coming of the New Year. In terms of celebrations, the night was was a real dissappointment (i.e. there was no celebrations to be seen). We still managed to have a fun time drinking, dancing and singing with the locals, as well as letting off our own fireworks!

After a leisurely morning and great steak lunch, we ventured into Taroko Gorge. As you can see from the pictures, the scenery was pretty spectacular.

Due to heavy traffic (lots of families on day trips) we didn't go as far into the gorge as we had initially planned, but we still got an excellent appreciation of the sheer splendor of the area. On getting back into Haullian, we chilled out for while before hitting the town again for another night of TV Pubs and KTV's (we were determined to make this a true Taiwanese experience). We had a great time hanging out with the locals and showing off our (lack of) vocal talents. (OK-I'll hold my hands up-Sammy is not a bad singer at all) We rolled back to the hotel around 6.00.

Wednesday was very much a travel day, as we took the coastal road from Haullian down to Taitung. One honestly felt they were in another country, the East coast being so much more beautiful than the West (apart from the beatle nut girls- the Hsinchu girls are by far the best on the island, after some in depth research). Unfortunately, we arrived at the port too late to get the boat across to Green Island. Therefore, we had to spend the night in Taitung. After being shown some of the worst rooms I ever seen, we found a half decent hotel for the night. We had a good meal and then myself, Jospeh and Matt headed to the one night spot on offer (Sammy decided to give his liver a rest for the evening). After a few games of pool air hockey and some break dancing moves from Joseph, we meandered back to the hotel (letting off plenty of fireworks on the way, which upset a few of the local residents. One extremely loud rocket set off a few car alarms). We made it back to the hotel without getting arrested (just).

We got down to the port in good time to catch the ferry over to Green Island. The journey over was pretty quiet, due to lack of sleep and also a due to spending most of journey feeling a bit on the sick side. I don't think I've seen so many bags of yellow liquid as I did when I got off the boat 45 minutes later. Once on the island, we hired some scooters (actually it was Joesph's first time on a scooter, being a newcomer to Taiwan. As with most people, he took to it like a duck to water). After a spot of lunch, we headed to the south of the island to check out the hot springs.

We had bought a return ferry ticket to take us back to the mainland at 4.00 that day. It was on relaxing in the hot springs, with the sun shining down, that we decided we would stay overnight, even if we couldn't find a hotel (there was a campsite next to the springs). Fortunately we found a great little place, where we got a huge room for NT1000. After a meal of tofu and noodles, we collected up our bathing gear again (plus the regulation Taiwan beers) and headed back to the springs for a night time soak. After being the last people to leave the springs, we headed back to the main town for a traditional Taiwanese hotpot and some more KTV (Sammy concluded the night with his very own version of the Nat King Cole classic 'Unforgettable", which was, well, unforgettable!


We had decided the previous night that we would postpone our proposed trip over to Koishung for another time in favour of spending an extra day on Green Island. It was raining cats and dogs all morning, so we took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep. After lunch and a few games of cards the weather cleared up and we got back on our scooters to discover the rest of the island. Some of the views were simply stunning. We returned back to town before darkness fell. We all had to go out and buy new t-shirts as we had originally only planned to stay for a few hours on the island, therefore we left most of our things back on the mainland. Our room certainly contained many different aromas (none of them pleasant!). We spent our last night on the island back down at the hot springs, socialising with Canadians, Taiwanese and South Africans. The night ended with a desperate search for a KTV spot but, alas, our search failed so we had to make do with the sound of the ocean (probably a much more pleasant sound for the locals than our singing!).


Saturday was the return leg of the tour. After a pretty smooth boat journey back to the mainland we got back into our little green mean machine (after changing our rather smelly trousers) and set off home. We left at 12.30. We returned back home 15 hours later, after the car journey from hell. We did take a bit of a detour at the start of the journey, where a mountain road (the world famous Route 23) turned into a dirt track!! After getting back onto the beaten track, we spent many a long hour on the East coast road, not really going anywhere, due to horrendous traffic. We entertained ourselves with CDs, word games and comedy tapes. During the journey we witnessed some outrageous driving, which would not have been out of place at Silverstone!! (one suicidal truck driver sticks in the memory!) Eventually, we got onto Freeway 3 and got back into town at 3.30. Matt (who had been an absolute hero doing all of the driving) was keen for a few beers, so we parked the car and headed down to Nepal, where we were treated to a heroes welcome. I think it was one of the best tasting beers Matt has ever tasted!! Eventually got home at 5.00.

So there we go, Taiwan in a week. If you get a chance, I would thoroughly recommend getting over to the East coast. It definitely gives you a very different perspective of Taiwan.
The highlights of the tour for me were having midnight beers at the hot springs on Green Island, seeing the splendor of Taroko gorge and, of course, Sammy's daily rants against everything Taiwanese (ranging from their driving ability and road design skills right through to how so many great looking Taiwanese girls are wasted on Taiwanese men with small members!!).
It was fantastic trip all round and thanks to the other guys for making it such a laugh. Here's to the next adventure in Hong Kong in only a month's time.