It feels strange to have finally left Asia after spending almost two years there. For us, travel has been inextricably linked with this part of the world. When I think of backpacking my mind conjures up images of long, cramped bus journeys and never-ending terraces of rice, gold-carpeted beaches and heaving cities full of motorbikes and street markets. I think of wading through soupy, humid air, the smell of citronella insect repellent, incense from temples, and spices from road-side food stalls; I hear beeping horns, crowing roosters, prayer calls and the lapping of the sea.
Taiwan was the last country on our initial 15-month adventure; we'd heard many good things about the country so we were anticipating a great finale to the first leg of our travels. During our time in Taiwan we checked out the impressive National Parks and the beautiful scenic areas as well as exploring the night markets and geothermal hot springs. Here are our Taiwan travel costs for three and a half weeks.
We’d had high hopes for Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan. We’d visualised something similar to Laos' Luang Prabang; old colonial buildings, narrow streets, local markets and stunning temples - a complete contrast to modern Taipei. Instead, when we got off the train we were greeted by an identikit Taiwanese city full of tall, glass buildings, malls, chain cafes and traffic. Confused, we tried to take a taxi to our hotel but despite showing several drivers the address in Chinese and getting a kind Taiwanese man to translate for us, everyone refused to take us.
There are two contrasting sides to Taiwan: the modern, high-tech cities which are sprinkled with colourful temples and the lush, mountainous countryside. We spent roughly half our time in Taiwan exploring the bustling cities of Taipei, Tainan and Taichung and the other half hiking around in the National Parks, where we got to see some of Taiwan’s most amazing natural wonders.
Have you ever considered sleeping in a stranger’s house to save money while you travel? Well, that’s what I thought Couchsurfing was like until we tried it out in Taipei, Taiwan. Instead, thanks to our amazing host Jackie, we found out that Couchsurfing can be a great way to learn about a place from a local perspective, make new friends and exchange experiences.