One day in Taipei

Taipei 101
Taipei 101
I am on a business trip in Taipei, Taiwan this week. It’s a TSOM/TSIEM deployment that I’ve been looking forward to for several months. I arrived late Saturday night, so I had one day to get all the sightseeing in I could. It’s the best way for me to get acclimated to the 13 hour change. If I stay in the hotel, I’m bound to fall sleep way to early. Here’s where I went today. If you are reading this to reproduce my itinerary, be forewarned – I like to walk. A lot. That last message came from my feet, who are not very happy with me right now.

The main tuned mass damper atop Taipei 101
The main tuned mass damper atop Taipei 101
I started the day from The Taipei City Hall MRT station and took a leisurely walk through the business district. I finally got to my first destination, Taipei 101, the world’ tallest building with the world’s fastest elevator. Okay, it WAS the tallest building in the world from 2004-2010. Those upstarts in Dubai had to out do them. It’s still the world’s largest sundial. And is has the world largest tuned mass damper sphere. What’s that, you say? It’s a big freakin ball that hangs in the middle of the building at the top, and it keeps the building from swaying too much. In fact, I never felt it sway. Unlike the Westin in Atlanta. There’s lots for a geek to fall in love with at Taipei 101. There’s a lot of technology and a lot of meaning into every aspect of the building (example:it has 8 segments of 8 floors).

On the Maokong Gondola
On the Maokong Gondola
After that, I took a long walk to the Liuzhangli MRT station to do some urban exploring. I took the Wenhu Line to the end to ride the Maokong Gondola. I decided to wait in line for the “Crystal Cabins”, also called “Eyes of Maokong Gondola”, a plexiglass bottomed gondola. It was a great trip and the sights were as good as atop Taipei 101. I am a sucker for mountains, and these were quite nice. The gondolas go up and over several hills and traverse some steep valleys. At points the winds were really scary, but I made it up to Maokong Station safe and sound.

The "Tea House"
The "Tea House"
Now that I was safely up the mountain, I started to wander. I was heading in the direction of the Taipei Tea Promotion Center, but didn’t make it that far. I stopped off at a random tea house (this area is known at the Tea Gardens) called …wait for it… Tea House (they don’t have an English site, but they are at It was a very nice place and I was thankful that they had teenager on staff that spoke very good English and taught me how to make traditional tea. I had tea oil chicken (it sounded like the thing you eat in the Tea Gardens) and Oolong Four Seasons Tea, which was like a more flavorful green tea. I sat a while enjoy the quiet of the mountainside, listening to strange, but calming, birds calls.

Playing the saw in Taipei
With my unused tea in hand and a fresh water bottle, I hiked back to the Gondola station and then back to the Taipei Zoo MRT station. I went to the Zhongziao-Fuxing station to check out SOGO. It didn’t seem too different than an American mall, so I quickly left. Next stop was the Longshan Temple MRT station, and you guessed it, the Longshan Temple. As I walked to the temple, I walked through No. 12 Park. It was where all the men were. The park was jam packed with old Taiwanese men playing what looked like Xiangqi, but I wasn’t sure. It was an very interesting find, even more so when I found a street performer playing the saw. That’s some good stuff right there. I think she’s ready to move to the Appalachian Mountains.

Mengjia Longshan Temple
The Mengjia Longshan Temple
I crossed the street and entered into the Longshan Temple. It was very crowded, which made it surreal and spiritual. I walked around and took in the sounds of the chanting, the smell of the incense, and the dedication of the followers. There is something moving about watching a religious practice you know absolutely nothing about, beyond my 3rd grade teachings of “weird religions you’ll never see in the south”. They had very elaborate paper creatures, some that were hung up as to let people pray underneath them. Besides healing my spirit, I also let my feet take a rest, but not for long.

Bopiliao Historic Block
Bopiliao Historic Block
I had a pretty basic tourist map that indicated that other neat things were near. So I just picked a direction that kinda pointed me in the right direction. I didn’t find any of the things on my map. I did however find the Bopiliao Historic Block. It’s a couple of well-preserved and renovated streets and traditional shop homes from the Qing Dynasty (the last Dynasty before the Republic of China was created). It was a great discovery and I was taken on how “modern” it looked. Seems like the architecture here inspired architects back home.

Ximen Square
Ximen Square - looks familar, eh?
It was getting late in the day and I decided to call it quits. I plotted a round about way of getting to the Ximen MRT Station. I came across The Red House, which had a small bazaar around it. I browsed a bit, then tried again to get to the Ximen MRT Station. I got there, decided to take a break, and started people watching. Then I noticed something (see the picture to the left). This was Taipei’s Times Square. I sat for long enough to watch some crazy woman go ape shit on her man and to watch the crowds gather. It was time for the famed “Night Markets” of Taipei. I gathered up enough strength to do some more walking. The energy was high. The were street performers (really good ones – no saw playing), magicians, food vendors (I picked up two different types of unknown fruit), caricature artists, silhouette artists, and TONS of people. After getting nice and lost, I gave in and looked a Google Maps on my phone, only to realize that I was one block away from the MRT station.

Here’s a few things I observed today:

  • Man purses are IN. The vast majority of men younger than 40 had a man purse.
  • A high of 75 degrees F is really cold to the Taiwanese. Everyone had on jackets, many with big winter coats. I was the only person in a t-shirt. Which reminds me:
  • T-shirts do not make the cut for men’s fashion here. Everyone I saw had a collared shirt, collared jacket, or hoodie. I felt naked in just a t-shirt.
  • Electronics are more expensive here than in the US. Which I find odd, since a lot of them are made here. Example, the 360 Kinect is about $530 here.
  • There is a distinct lack of iPhones, but a smorgasbord of other devices. All of them full touch screens. Some of them have tiny iPhone sized screens, but most of them have larger screens. Some were huge phones or small tablets. I did spot one or two iPhones and at least one iPad, but this land is not dominated by Apple.

Well tomorrow I start my TSOM/TSIEM project and will probably work most nights on my other pet projects (like getting that TSOM/TSIEM to QRadar Transition Redpaper finished!). I am uploading all my photos to my Flickr account, if you care to see more. My sore feet and I are going to bed.


Author: Xavier Ashe

Entrepreneur, Infosec Executive, CISSP, CISM, Ironman triathlete, traveler, UU, paleo, father of 8, goyishe, gamer, & geek.

2 thoughts on “One day in Taipei”

  1. Hello, from Taipei. Happened to be here for a few days, googled “one day itineraries”, and ran across your blog. Good thing I did. None of them standard one day suggestions mentioned Maokong Gondola. What a hidden gem that is! Many thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    p.s. I noticed the same as you. When it gets a bit nippy out (I think the nighttime temp dropped down to about 24 C) out come the vests and (no joke) the down jackets.


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