TAIPEI- Taipei seems as if it’s becoming a place that I will start passing through regularly. It’s a grade-A air hub for regional Asia travel and the place is real comfortable. It’s the China that my wife likes.
It has to be stated:
The people of Taiwan, while mostly Chinese, behave completely differently than the PRCs. The culture feels completely different. People stand in line, in the cities they don’t scream when they talk, they don’t grab my kids and demand that they take photos with them. They treat people with … respectful distance. While I enjoy the raw social nature of the PRC, I find the difference in Taiwan fascinatingly stark. One culture, two trajectories, obvious impact. “China Light” is how a much-traveled friend recently put it.
The first time I rode through Taipei I mistook it to be a sort of butt town. For some reason, I just figured Taipei would be more advanced in several core urban categories than what it is. Compared with the big cities of the PRC, the place is at least a decade behind. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing … just a surprising thing.
We stayed at the Papa Whale hotel. It was kind of a surprise for my daughter Petra, who admired the giant, city-block-long whale that was painted down the side the last time we were in Taipei. The place is part of this emerging trend of hipster hotels that are popping up all over the world. Kind of like M Hotel in Europe. Papa Whale has the style of a 70s porno flick rolled up within an overarching nautical theme. It’s kind of sex-hotel-y, kind of disco-y, kind of seafarer-y. There are mirrors on the ceiling of the rooms, see through glass bathroom walls, and whales. 100% hip.
However, there are cheap rooms in the basement that are the same price as the local holes next door. We stayed in the basement.