Happy New Year & Updates from Taipei
…and that’s how they do New Year fireworks in Taipei. We were stood about a mile west of Taipei 101, just up the road from our friend’s bar. The crowds are like this along whichever roads have a view of 101:
Just miles & miles of people stood there for the countdown & fireworks, and then everyone disperses back to whichever bar or house party they’re celebrating at. My friend who I’ll call the Tequila Monster then made sure that we all had a painful New Year’s Day…
The previous time I was in Taipei for New Year we watched the fireworks from the roof of a friend’s building, which was pretty cool but my blog was a baby and I don’t have any pics.
Winter’s usually the best time for hiking in & around Taipei, except that it rains a lot. But the temperatures are way more comfortable than the rest of the year (it does get cold sometimes, but not too cold and not for long) so you can do a good hike without sweating out half your body weight. When the rain holds off and the sun comes out, conditions are perfect. I’ve got 3 new hikes done since the last hiking updates I posted.
First up, Guanyinshan which is located out in the northwestern corner of the Taipei area, on the far side of the Tamsui River where it meets the ocean (it’s the distant mountain you see behind Taipei 101 when you hike up Elephant Mountain). It’s a cool hike, starting from a nice pair of temples and climbing up to views of the city, ocean, and mountains from the summit:
Next up was Shamaoshan, a subsidiary peak in Yangmingshan National Park. It’s much smaller than the main peaks, but it has a really distinctive appearance when viewed from a distance or on maps (it’s a steep-sided cone) so I’ve always wanted to check it out. Good option for a shorter hike in Yangmingshan, with good views of the park’s main peaks:
And just last week I finally completed the western half of the ridge which runs along the back of the Neihu district (the Neihu part of the ridge is probably the best hike within Taipei proper), starting from Jiantan Station, hiking over as far as Jinmian Rocks (which I’ve been to many times from other starting points) and then backtracking & descending to the National Palace Museum. You get good views in both directions from the ridge, of Yangmingshan to the north (looking very dramatic in that day’s cloud cover) and Taipei 101 and central Taipei to the south:
See here for details of that hike.
Not a hike but a few of us also had a fun day out visiting Bali & Tamsui towns opposite each other near the mouth of the Tamsui River:
Sanchong Gang Land: since getting back to Taipei following the Rugby World Cup in Japan, I’ve mostly been staying in the Sanchong area of New Taipei, located on a large and densely populated island in the river to the west of central Taipei. It’s unglamorous and doesn’t usually see many tourists (except for when they pass through Sanchong Station on the subway line from Taoyuan Airport), my Taiwanese friends insist that it’s riddled with gangsters, and it is certainly a bit rough & ready, but it’s also friendly with a real old school Taiwanese vibe I quite enjoy and lots of photogenic little details like this:
More Sanchong pics here. I actually moved to central Taipei again last week and I’m not missing Sanchong to be honest (due to the swarms of motorbikes and almost total lack of greenery), but it was a cool place to stay for a couple of months.
The cats in my life: my friends (who also live in Sanchong, 10 minutes from where I was) recently adopted this little legend Bobo:
And here’s another one of the resident bar star at Relax Jazz Pub:
A few more random snaps
Cocktails and amazing Kyoto gin at our mate’s bar… Ki No Bi is fantastic stuff, distilled in Kyoto using locally sourced botanicals (a lot of Japan’s best whisky & sake also comes from Kyoto, the local water being a key reason), well worth trying if you can get hold of it:
A bunch of us went to a craft beer festival at Songshan Cultural Park, beer was good and it’s a nice little area to check out. Here’s Tinee & Dom striking a pose in front of the preserved old Japanese industrial building (originally the tobacco bureau during Taiwan’s Japanese colonial era, see here for more on Japanese colonial architecture in Taiwan), with a giant inflatable dinosaur randomly hanging out at the far end of the building:
This night out was the day Halloween, Gay Pride, and the England vs New Zealand rugby semi-final were all going on on the same day (hence the random make-up), great weather that day too and things were lively. Halloween was actually 5 days later, but as it fell on a weekday the bars all just decided to have it on Saturday 26th instead. The advantages of commercially adopting a festival!
As for this, no I don’t know but I’m childish so it’s funny:
…and here’s one more foot soldier for the approaching Rise of the Machines: