During my stay in Taiwan, I have visited many spots but two of them were the most memorable ones that I can recall. Whenever a Costa Rican neighbor who lived in Taiwan before introduced me online to a Taiwanese friend, the first place that will come to their minds to take me to, is of course the famous “Taipei night markets”. In fact is quite amazing the amount of this type of markets that you can find on literally every 4-5 MRT stations. These places are very crowdy during the night (that’s the reason of their name) especially during the weekends but even so, it is a very nice place to hang out with your friends, family and love ones. I really love it because each one of them has its very own style and environment, especially with the bunch of food and clothing available. The difference between China and Taiwan, its that the latter is better in the sense that the prices of the same or similar products are very standardized and there is no necessity to argue on the tagged, so this really saved me a big headache, because when I was in China 3 years ago, and they know I’m a foreign, everyone just tried to “eat me alive” by increasing the price 3 - 4 times the original price for locals, besides I really hated to argue for a good price.

On the night market in Si-men, a truly unique food place that I really liked was “Ay-Chung Rice Noodles”. Well, the reason is simple: there is not even one desk, so you just remain stand up and eat the noodles. It was really funny to see everyone around on their motorcycles or along with their love one eating around the restaurant. After going for a few times I noticed that besides the excellent flavor and quality, what gave them its current success was this particular idea.

The 2nd place which is a scenic spot is named “WuLai”, located approximately 1 hour from Taipei. This is like a little village with many good hearted locals who still kept their aboriginal roots and practices. The location is quite a famous tourist location, mainly for its Hot Springs. The good things about WuLai is the spectacular waterfall, nice mountain scenery, and many hot spring resorts in the area. Actually this is an excellent place to relax by getting a massage and by remaining for long hours in these waters.

Along with my friend, we went there to visit his family who were amazingly well known by the villagers due to the many years they have remained in the place. When we were walking around the food market, the hospitality shown by every merchant is an example for me to imitate. At the moment you get into the business, they always try to make you feel as part of their family and try to establish a brief conversation with you. Of course not each of them is like that, but most will try to make you feel happy and welcome to their village.

The bad thing is that this place is on the main tourist circuit, so one can expect all the typical tourist trappings. Also, WuLai is too close to Taipei for comfort. My experience during the holidays was that during the weekends, many different means of transportation will head in this direction. So if one just in Taiwan for fun, then a free weekday would make the trip even sweeter. I think I might visit again later on during summer vacations, hopefully there would be less people compared to the last time, but I don’t think so… ha-ha.

Alejandro gets enrolled in the IMBA at NationalChengchiUniversity in the 2006