Kara AND Ben here, this must be a pretty important post! We recently got back from our first off-island trip to Taipei, Taiwan. For those of you who know Ben and I well, we aren't much of "travellers" per say. Sure, do we love a nice vacation and seeing awesome cultural/historical sites? Heck yes! But the getting there/back/logistics of it all can be a bit overwhelming for us. Although a bit apprehensive (and super content with hitting the beach every weekend) we decided that since we are young, childless, and only $100 plane tickets away from some of Asias most incredible locations, it was now or never to start knocking off our travel bucket list.
"Why Taipei?" You must ask. Although to many it's an unusual vacation destination, for us it was a perfect trip locale because it is dirt cheap to fly too, as well as super affordable in-country, located conveniently next to us, and no visa was required. Pretty much a perfect "starter" trip.
One factor that played heavily into our trip planning was money. We wanted to save as much as we could because college debt is no joke, plus we have about 4 other trips we want to do before we leave this island which could get a bit pricey. With that all being said, we went true millennial style and booked a hostel. No lie, we were both kind of expecting the worst, but to our surprise this place was awesome! Super clean, quiet, and the atmosphere overall gave us good vibes. We did splurge on a private room though... We still aren't brave enough to share our space with complete strangers!
A must see in Taiwan is it's biggest night market called Shilin. This place was absolutely wild, it was packed unbelievably densely even though it had been pouring on and off all night long. Even though we aren't really crowd people, we were STARVING and decided too see why this particular night market was as crowded as it was.
We first noticed how large this night market was. Unlike Ningxia which was a single street, Shilin was a labyrinth of winding streets that were pretty much endless. It had hundreds of shops, from little pushcarts to full blown Nike storefronts and had even more food vendors (a dream come true). The shopping options were pretty much limitless. If it hadn't been raining on us nonstop we easily could've spent 3+ hours here. However, sadly the rain pretty much forced us home after about an hour. Once your shoes are filled to the brim with water and your clothes soaked through to the bone anything pretty much loses its excitement. All in all though, the food here was INCREDIBLE and we will dream about sausage sticks and flame-thrower steaks for the rest of eternity.
Somehow we walked over 26 miles during this trip.... Not totally the best idea when it rained nonstop for all three days... But Ben insisted that backpacking meant "walking everywhere" and for some reason I went along. Note to self for future trips: utilize public transportation as much as possible!!!! The Taipei MRT (subway) was super easy to use, clean and cheap cheap cheap. We don't have any regrets about walking a marathon because we seriously needed some physical fitness after gaining 10 lbs from the nightmarket, but our feet and legs still haven't recovered three days later!!
We're Kara and Ben, a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together halfway around the world!
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