2022-09-21 ● Notes from a 38-hour layover in Taiwan
[Content warning: Photos of food]
In 2019, before the pandemic blew up, I traveled home to the Philippines for the holidays. I was supposed to only have a 9-hour layover in Taiwan, but it turned into 38 hours because a typhoon closed the Manila airport, and all flights going in and out were cancelled. After several hours of waiting, waiting, waiting, getting on a shuttle bus, getting to the hotel to find out we had to partner with a stranger for a room, waiting, and then eating a very sad, complimentary lunch buffet, I decided to venture into Taipei from Taoyuan.
It was a very small, quiet adventure, considering I don’t speak Mandarin, but I managed to get on a bus that would take me to Taipei. I didn’t know how much the fare would cost, but someone saw that I was from away, and he kindly came over to help me count my bills, and let me know how much I needed to put into the bus’ collection box. He also signaled to me when it was time to get off once we reached the city.
I was surprised to see so many people on motorbikes, and plenty of bicycles. Although cars and buses roamed most of the streets, there was still plenty of room for motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians. The area was also densely populated, and I spotted many small subdivisions and residential buildings throughout.
I went into a Mos Burger to order a coffee, and leisurely looked around for a bit, going in and out of shops, convenience stores, fast-food joints, a small mart, and a bakery.
Everything felt so vivid and colourful.
I wandered aimlessly, taking in as much as I could. I originally planned to go to the night market, which was ways away from where I currently was, but I didn’t want to risk getting lost and stranded alone, at night, in a city whose language I did not speak.
It started to get cold, and I felt drops of rain. I lacked warmer clothing, and I was beginning to run short of adrenaline, so I decided to end my tiny adventure, and got back on the bus from whence I came. I promised myself that I needed to come back, under fairer circumstances, but for the time being, I had to say au revoir, Taipei.