A few pictures from some visits to Taiwan, beginning with my first trip in November 2003. Actually, most of the trip was for business, but there was a couple of days to poke around the capital city of Taiwan. I found it much easier as an english-speaking (or rather, a non-mandarin chinese speaking) tourist to venture about than a trip to mainland China last year. The Taipei metro is a very easy way to get all over town for about 60 cents a ride, and nearly all street signs include a translation into the roman alphabet. Interestingly, with a little practice one actually learns to recognize a few of the astonishingly variety of chinese characters. Apparently, there are about 50,000 different characters, but supposedly only about 5,000 are used today and one might be semi-literate with a knowledge of 2,000 -- I think I've got about 5 figured out.
People were friendly, courteous, and helpful. Some restaurants have english menus (or at least pictures), and overall I managed quite well with gestures and my two chinese words (, xiexie , means thanks and you hear it all the time; , ni hao, is hello.) It does help, however, to have directions written in chinese if you take taxis anywhere (also quite reasonable cost). Vehicular traffic certainly had its moments, but the traffic nightmare most guidebooks describe must have been in the past. Missing from these pictures are the fascinating street markets, which take place in the evenings in certain neighborhoods and are a major Saturday morning event. And there are several pictures of Taipei 101, currently the tallest building in the world, which celebrated its initial opening during my trip.
Everyone will suggest you see the National Palace Museum if nothing else in Taipei, and they're right!
Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger view.