Jetlag and Taipei

Posted by on 6, Feb 2020 in 2020 - Winter in Taiwan, Taiwan, Tilly the Tandem

Jetlag and Taipei

We’ve struggled (me in particular) with Jet lag this trip. On our first cycle we arrived in Taipei and I went to bed at 5pm and didn’t wake up until the next morning. We thought this was it cured but that night we both went to bed about 10pm and woke up at 11;30am the next day missing breakfast, which in my books wasn’t any loss at all as I can’t face noodles for breakfast and they don’t do cereal often.

But even so we’ve had a great time in Taipei. We’ve not done too much. We’ve been to see the temple at Longshan which was fascinating as its a traditional Chinese religion. It was almost totally incomprehensible to us. People arrived, bought some money sheets of paper to burn and some incense, bowed before the fire pit with their incense and threw it on the fire. They’d pick up two wooden orange segment dice and throw then on the floor a few times, select a meter long stick from a barrel of sticks, read something at the bottom and then put it back and go and pray and go to a numbered draw and take a horoscope type proverb out of it.

We couldn’t follow it all but the atmosphere was lovely. Calm, happy and very welcoming. We loved it. And it was permanently heaving, hundreds of people coming and going non stop, of all ages and sexes with no monks visible anywhere, people were doing their own thing and It felt so different to going into a cathedral or a church where it alway seems more regimented and controlled. It felt like the religion was individual and personal to each worshipper and not controlled by a priest. Of course we may be completely wrong!

The temple is faced by a musical fountain thats not exactly Bellagio style but is nonetheless impressive and oddly enough seemed to be patrolled by ladies of the night… At lunchtime.

There are hundreds of temples everywhere, you pass them on the cycle paths, in factory estates, shopping malls and they are alway so bright and beautiful. The roofs are fantastic with the carvings and colour and are a complete contrast to the rather dull architecture of nearly everything else.

Being on Tilly we were able to stop at loads of local temples for a look as well and whilst none came close to the magnitude of the Longshan Temple they are all gorgeous in their own right and are always no matter how busy so peaceful and calm.

We moved on next to the National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall which sits at the end of gigantic Square built in a very imposing style to commemorate a past leader. The Square has a concert hall on one side and a theatre on the other with the entrance marked by the Liberty Square Gate. It’s all monumental in style, almost Russian Communist and the Chinese style buildings look fabulous. The Memorial hall is at the top of 89 steps, one for every year he lived and at the top is a statue of the leader and the obligatory couple of ceremonial soldiers standing to attention in an open three sided building. You had to have your temperature taken to go in as a test against the corona virus which was utterly bizzare. This is the only check we have seen done anywhere here and we couldn’t understand why they were bothering for this open building and not the rest of the park.

Culture box ticked and on to the important things in life, where can we get a good cocktail! Cue Gintatsic a tiny cocktail bar on the third floor of a cafe where we got personal attention and a Kettle One Dutch Jenever! Never thought I’d have one of those here! A great evening. And of course the next most important thing is a good curry and wow we were very fortunate there having the spiciest curry we’ve had outside the UK, ever. Entirely our own fault of course as we are so used to just saying ‘as hot as you can make it!’ to the waiter abroad as usually their idea of hot is our idea of very very mild. But here they must like hot as this was melt your mouth and have free colonic irrigation whilst you’re at it Hot. Wowser! Delicious though.