Taiwan is the first country on my trip which I’ve previously visited.
I was here in January of 1999 for business (I circumnavigated the globe in three weeks on that trip). During my week in Taipei I didn’t get to see much and what I did see was only at night. It was also the first time in my life I was outside of North America. I remember landing in the Chang Kai Sheck and being in total culture shock. Everything was in Chinese and I had never experienced anything like it. Had the company not arranged for me to get picked up at the airport, I probably would have flipped out. This time, it went much smoother.
Taiwan is also the first stop on my trip that isn’t really a European influenced country. In much of the world, if you can understand the Roman alphabet, you can sort of get by. You can figure out what words mean sometimes by knowing a similar word in english. Sometimes a word will be written in english. Even if you don’t know what a word means, you and probably pronounce it or at least make a good guess.
With Chinese characters, however, that is all out the window. It is completely unknown to me. It is hard to even hand copy something down to show a cab driver, Not knowing the characters is an order of magnitude more difficult than just not knowing the language.
The highlight of my previous trip to Taiwan was the night market. It is touristy, but I intend on going back as soon as I can. I have one particular objective in mind :)
Also, since I was last here, they have completed construction of 101 Taipei; currently the tallest building in the world. I want to go up to the observation deck if for no other reason than to ride on the world’s fastest elevator. In fact, everything here looks different. Newer. Cleaner.
Oh, and my hostel has free Wifi…