Steven’s Blog – Visa Run

The time of year came and went when I had to leave the country to get my passport stamped in order to maintain my legal status in China.  I made a quick three day stop in Taipei, which, like Hainan, is in the middle of an extended winter season.  Right now I’m in Sanya looking out at rain and sitting around in 65 degree weather, which seems a little unseasonable for springtime in the tropics.  I love visiting Taipei because you can go from the densest part of the city to mountainous forest in half an hour on the metro.  I met up with my sister Kate and her friend Brent, who were in town to find companies to source bike parts for their bicycle company that’s currently in the making.

I had great food and coffee in Taipei on my last visit five years ago but we were pretty unlucky this time around with a few nasty meals of steamed dumplings and watery Americanos.  Still, I shouldn’t complain because I lucked out on my hostel this time around.  I spent my first night at Taipei Hostel, where I was greeted with a grunt from the receptionist.  The t.v. room in the common area was filled with a few old people in blankets and a some pimply guys looking at a map.  After going exploring for a few hours at the Shilin night market I came back to the hostel and crawled into my bunk as quietly as possible, pulled a shade over my bunk and never really fell asleep even though I was exhausted.  On my second day I met up with Kate and Brent at our new hostel, which was much more agreeable than the first.  JV’s Hostel has comfortable accomodations, a friendly staff, and a nicely furnished common area with free food and plenty of people to chat with.  Yes, I’m blowing up JV’s over the internet whether they like it or not because travelers should know what’s good and what to avoid.  Now I feel bad for belittling Taipei Hostel.  I should say something positive about it… Even though some of the long term residents at Taipei Hostel are clearly insane, they won’t harm you as long as you avoid eye contact when they start whispering to themselves that the Twin Towers aren’t there anymore.

I won’t dwell on too many comparisons between Sanya to Taipei, but I have to say that Taipei has a big leg up on Sanya in terms of basic social etiquette.  You can’t go anywhere in Sanya without some sneaky bastard trying to cut you in line.  I get cut in the breakfast line waiting to buy a few baozi, the same goes for mailing a letter at the post office.  In Taipei no one dares cut in line because the system is set up to discourage it.  The subway platforms are marked with lanes for passengers to cue up for the trains.  All praise Taipei, the city of social etiquette.


Shilin night market.


Contrite shot of Taipei 101.


A blind man plays with a torch without burning himself.  Marvelous trick.


Rayden teleports into an urban farm.


Beautiful bumper crop.


Traffic scarecrow.


Hrrnngh, push me out!!


Get ’em, Samo!


Nicely done.




Hot springs near the outskirts of the city.


Not the best shot, but I was watching this pigeon coop from a cafe.  There was a man (not pictured) bringing the pigeons feed and poking around on the bottom floor where the chicken wire is.


The Gongs like Taipei.