2 weeks ago we had the Brower invasion here in Taipei and the day they left for home, we were able to open the parent Doors to Asia! My Mom and Dad came to visit us in Taipei last week 🙂
My parents have had an interest in Taiwan ever since I studied abroad here in 2011. They’ve seen the pictures, heard the stories, watched the Anthony Bourdain episode, and decided it was now or never! My Dad agrees with me whole heartedly when it comes to visiting a new place….get the inside track. After 4 months of living in Taiwan, we’ve got it down pretty well.
Just like the Brower’s, the Door’s took the long trip from GR to Taipei and landed at Taoyuan International Airport. I was there to welcome them to Taiwan and get them back to our place. It’s fun to see everyone’s faces when they get out of the airport and take the taxi into downtown Taipei. They’ve all been traveling for 24 hours and should be dead tired, but when I look back from the passenger seat, all I see are big, wide eyes and looks of pure wonder as they gaze out the windows at an untrodden place. What a rush!
Dad, you’re going to be mad, but I need to start with a little preface before getting into more detail. Randy Door, for those of you who don’t know him, is my Father. He likes to know where he is, he loves meeting new people, and likes to know where his food is coming from. He does not like getting clobbered by scooters, roaming around second-tier foreign cities, or getting lost in a sea of people. Welcome to Taiwan, Dad…This should be fun 😉 Going into the trip, I knew my Dad would be faced with some uncomfortable situations. Who wouldn’t? He could have been on Mars for all he knew. Although it was hard for him to talk to people, and scooters always seemed to miss him by a hair, we’re confident he had a great time here!
Back to the week. Sarah and I showed my parents a lot of the same things as the Brower’s because they are the most popular things to see in Taiwan. Unlike the Brower’s, we didn’t go anywhere too far away, so we were able to spend some more time around Taipei and nearby cities.
Our first day started with the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and Elephant Mountain. I’ve mentioned Chiang Kai Shek in previous posts, so I won’t elaborate anymore on that, but Elephant Mountain is a must-see for any visitor to Taipei. After taking the MRT to the end of the red line, it’s a 30 minute walk and a 30 minute stair climb to a breathtaking view of Taipei. The weather in Taipei right now can’t decide what it wants to do. One day it’s freezing and rainy, the next it’s scorching and humid! This particular day was scorching and humid…it was a long, sweaty 30 minute stair climb. Good thing the views are worth every drop of sweat!
We were trying to think of a day trip we could do that wasn’t too far away from Taipei, yet different. Keelung was the perfect choice….or so we thought 🙂 My parents arrived late Friday night and Saturday was the pretty classic sightseeing day. Monday was Keelung. I had been to Keelung during my first stint in Taipei so I was pretty familiar with it, but I didn’t realize how culture-shocking it could be for people who have barely left the US. We got off the bus to high winds and rain on a side street full of little Chinese shops and food stands. WHAM.
I should say something about my Mom here, too. My Mom is pretty even keeled. She’s not as vocal about being uncomfortable, she just likes to soak it all in. I think I get my adventurous side from her. She may have been just as uncomfortable in Keelung as my Dad, but she took it in like a champ!
Keelung was fun. We were able to check out the famous seafood night market, although the famous lanterns weren’t lit up 😦 We made my parents try sushi and even got them to eat some night market food. I’m glad we took this trip as it was eye-opening for them and got them further out of their comfort zone. Great experience in Taiwan.
The rest of the week was spent showing them our favorite spots in Taipei. We took them to our favorite restaurants, our night market, Shilin night market, and went to my old stomping grounds in Gongguan/Shida where I went to school. I have to say it was nice to get my Mom back for all the torture she put me through growing up with eating…”Mom, you have to sit there until you finish your plate!!” 🙂 We soaked in the hot springs of Beitou, and took them up to one of the Brower’s favorite spots, Maokong, also known as Tea Mountain. We also took them to our favorite temple, Bishan Temple and hiked around the mountains of Neihu.
Having our families visit us in Taiwan was awesome. It was so fun to catch up with everyone and show them our lives in Taipei. The two trips were also very different. With the Brower’s, it was fun sampling all the crazy food and hanging out with our night market buddies. With my family, it was fun showing them a completely new place. We loved having visitors!
Now we have 3 weeks before we head out to Thailand to meet my brother and sister! We will be traveling in Thailand together for 10 days and they will becoming back to Taipei! Going to be a great few weeks again 🙂
Kyle and Sarah