I have to break this trip up into two separate posts because I had two such wildly different experiences the two days I was there.  Also, it gives me a chance to blog ad nauseam about my trip and nattering on about the same thing endlessly is an opportunity I simply can’t pass up.

I went with my friend Zona over CNY on a fairly spur of the moment trip.  For weeks we had been trying to make various different plans but they all fell through. Finally we decided to  buy a train ticket and just go somewhere, anywhere.  And anywhere was fine with me, so long as we could get out of dreary rainy Taipei for a while. It’s difficult to plan for a CNY trip at the last moment as everything is booked weeks and weeks in advance. Going abroad became out of the question as flights were either all booked or insanely expensive. I had initially wanted to bike down the coast of Taiwan, but somehow that idea kept getting squashed like a bug every time I brought it up and finally I gave up.

We finally managed to get our act together and bought a high-speed rail ticket to Tainan. Since all the comfortable times were booked our tickets were for seven a.m. on Wednesday morning. Fine by me. I figured it would give us more time to check things out.

As usual, since I had to get up very early, I had a hard time falling asleep the night before. So difficult was it that I didn’t actually fall asleep at any point. Instead I spent the hours laying in the dark thinking all the typically weird thoughts that creep out of our psyche at that time of day.

We got to Tainan around nine thirty in the morning, caught the bus to the Confucius Temple and aimlessly roamed around there for a while. I think we were both too  groggy to think straight.  We didn’t go inside because they were charging, and frankly, we didn’t really feel like it. I popped in my contacts in the bathroom, which earned me a few weird stares, and then we headed off to check out the nearby streets.

We hadn’t managed to find any openings on-line but I felt certain that if we asked around we would be sure to find one. Eventually we did at a cute brand new B & B near the regular train station for only a price of 2,000 NT( 67 USD). Four times what they charged normally (20 USD)  but I suppose they’d be fools to pass up an opportunity to rake in the extra cash. At that,  it was still the cheapest place we could find, with some extremely shady looking hotels selling rooms for upwards of 4,000 NT (134 USD) for the night.

Having secured our lodgings, we set off on the bus to see the famous Anping Old Fort which was initially constructed by the Dutch. The bus ride took forever and we were stuck in traffic for so long we decided to get off the bus to take a bathroom break at a nearby temple and decided to walk the rest of the way. As we walked we could see our  bus a few meters ahead creeping along in traffic. We never quite caught up with it, but we never really lost sight of it either as we walked to Yanping Old Street near the fort. It was pleasant to walk though, and as the sun burned off the rest of the  clouds the day became warm and sunny. Very warm and sunny and I suddenly found myself in a better mood than I had been in months.

Yanping Old Street was very crowded, with tons and tons of different restaurants, street vendors selling various different things, and of course,  the requisite megaphones. It just wouldn’t be the same charming experience if my eardrums weren’t bleeding. We strolled through some of the back alleys but finally the crowds got to me and I had to get out of there before I lost my temper.

We made our way down to the Tainan canal and checked out some cool statues on the far side as well as a Chinese cemetary on ours. It was interesting to see, vaguely reminiscent of the graveyards in Poland with above ground stones or maybe mausoleum would be the right word. Next to each crypt there was a tiny stone house with a deity inside watching over the departed.

We finally made our way  to the Anping Fort. It was nice, with the  back view of the old fort walls by far the prettiest part of the entire fort area. There were tons of people all over the place and one Taiwanese couple asked me to take a photo with them. This happens sometimes because I’m a blonde Westerner. I never knew I was such a star until I came to Taiwan. I guess that’s what it feels like to be famous.

After the fort we made our way to the Anping Tree House which, in my opinion, was the single coolest thing I saw in Tainan. Along the way we stopped for some beer and tea. I had the beer, Zona had the tea. I was so incredibly tired all day I  could barely see straight and felt like I was walking through a foggy haze that gently swayed and shifted everywhere I glanced. Since I already felt buzzed and vaguely drugged, it only made sense to have a beer to justify the feeling. One awesome thing I gotta say about Taiwan is that walking around with a beer in hand is perfectly legal everywhere.

We went to the tree house at dusk and as a result my pictures came out pretty badly. You can still take a look at them below, but feel free to also follow this link  for daylight pictures and history of the warehouse.

After the tree house, we took the  bus to the night market to get some food. It was insanely crowded in the food area and at times we couldn’t move at all due to the press of bodies around us. I thought it was dangerous and unsafe, and the only redeeming thing about that night market was the fact there were no megaphones and, in fact, the entire market was surprisingly muffled and quiet. Here I finally broke down and tried stinky tofu which smells like dead rotting animals that have broiled in the hot sun for a few days. I’ve been avoiding it for months, but its such a famous example of Taiwanese food that I had to give in. I’m happy to report it tasted nothing like the way it smelled. Actually, it tasted like regular deep-fried tofu. Then my friend insisted it wasn’t the  greatest stinky tofu so now I’m obliged to try it again here in Taipei. Oh joy.

There isn’t much else I can tell you about that day. All in all it was a good day. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and went to bed eager to experience more of Tainan….

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