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In Taipei Papa Whale

We find ourselves in a super hip hotel … on purpose.

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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.

Mirrors on the ceiling of the rooms.


Filed under: Taiwan

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

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  • don mario August 14, 2017, 2:25 am

    butt town? HAHA. well taipei is the most developed part of taiwan by far. the rest of taiwan feels even more behind. not that its a bad thing, i love travelling to other places in taiwan.

    taipei does have some modern places on the level as the mainland, xinyi district is your pretty standard modern asian city district. but yea the rest of it is still pretty rickety. not in a bad way though. if you spend some time here you will find beneath the surface things are actually more developed than the mainland. the society and culture are quite a bit more moved on, and alot more interesting. taiwan just has more to offer.

    i stumbled into that hotel too a couple weeks ago, totally by accident. very cool place. had a drink in the bar. theres also a new citizen M around the corner in beimen, not so keen on that though.

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    • VagabondJourney August 14, 2017, 4:23 pm

      Agree completely!

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