Day 13: Arriving in Beijing

[If you haven’t been keeping up with my travels, check them out here!]

Today was filled with travel. We headed to Beijing for our 72 hour visa-free transit stay.

When we arrived in Beijing, we had no hitches when it came to getting through immigration — the counter that was marked was closed. We asked and they directed us to another counter that was for disabled and there was no line! We went through faster than anyone else.

We had a ride waiting for us at the airport; we had arranged through our hostel. Olivia’s life dream of walking out of the baggage claim to see her name on a sign finally came through!

Driving through Beijing rush hour was interesting… Cars (including ours) decide the shoulder is an extra lane, exit lanes aren’t actually exit lanes, and if the car fits (and sometimes even if it doesn’t) – shove your way in.  Please disregard if someone is honking at you. That’s just how we say hello here.  Our driver also used it as: “I’m coming through whether you want me to or not. Don’t try and stop me; I will crash into you.”

We arrived at our hostel and were showed the way to our 3rd story private room with our 6 bags. The staff is very helpful and speaks great English! There is a restaurant attached – we had dinner there, and then walked about town for a bit.

Here are some pictures of the hostel rooms in both Taipei (Fun Taipei Backpackers) and Beijing (365 Inn) at the request of my lovely grandmother:

To check some interesting ways life is different in Taiwan, check out my sister-in-law’s post on it HERE.  I noticed all of these things in my stay as well!
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Day 10: Taipei 101 & Typhoon

[If you haven’t been keeping up with my travels, check them out here!]

Since the typhoon hadn’t hit yet, we decided to continue packing in as much as we could!  We made our way to Taipei 101 – the world’s 3rd tallest building.  It is 101 floors above ground and 5 below ground.  There is a huge food court as well as many floors of high end shopping.

It has the world’s fastest elevator at 1010 meters per minute!

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For lunch, we went to the world renowned Din Tai Fung.  The dumplings were AMAZING! And I successfully ate the WHOLE MEAL with chopsticks 🙂

We found CHEESE in the Jason's supermarket!  Nick was EXCITED!

We found CHEESE in the Jason’s supermarket! Nick was EXCITED!

2013-07-12 Taiwan Trip 1544 ---We went back to our new room in the hostel and took a nap! Then, we headed out just as the typhoon was starting.  We found a place still open, got dinner, and then ran back to the hostel.  We could hear the wind and rain throughout the night!

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Day 4: Great Bridge, Banyan Tree, and Whale Cave

[If you haven’t been keeping up with my travels, check them out here!]

First thing in the morning (which means 10 AM), we went to the market! I do not react well to strong smells, so Nick gave me some insanely strong gum and I wore a mask.  I still had to hold my breath a number of times! – I will guest blog about it at Nick and Liv Go Abroad later today!  UPDATE: Here’s my guest post about the traditional market!

We drove to some other islands to check out some cool stuff.  We drove past the Windmill Power Park a number of times, and it was pretty cool to see.  In the winter time, the wind is so strong, the wind turbines are rotated so they do not spin and break.

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Windmill Power Park

The Great Bridge links the islands of Baisha and Xiyu. At 2,494 meters, it was the first sea-crossing bridge in the far eastern seas.

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The Great Bridge

This is also where a man gestured to us that he wanted to take a picture.  With us.  Our pale skin makes us FAMOUS!

The Tongliang Banyan tree is said to be over 200 years old.  It has aerial roots that form a miniature forest of subsidiary trunks – the tree covers an area of more than 660 square meters. (source)

One of the staples here is 7-11.  They are on almost every corner!  They have lots of food options including tea eggs, hot dogs, microwave pastas, and more.  We decided to stop here for lunch.

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Then we headed to Xiaomen island to check out the Whale Cave: “a large hole in an eroded columnar basalt formation that is said to resemble a whale when viewed from a distance” (source)

On the way back, Nick decided to see what the top speed is on his scooter, so he seized the opportunity on a long stretch — 100 kmph! (equivalent to about 60 mph)

Dumplings & a movie in the only air conditioned room in the house made for a nice end to the day.