Last February, I embarked on my first ever solo travel adventure! I traveled to Taipei, the modern metropolis capital of Taiwan. Solo traveling to Taipei was the most nerve racking thing I've done in a while. But I was tired of waiting for friends who had different vacation days from me or just didn't have their finances in order *sigh*. I ordered my plane ticket, booked a hostel, and researched the heck out of touristy places to visit in Taipei. February 16th rolled around and I was off to my week long vacation into the unknown. I’m actually just being dramatic. It wasn’t really the unknown due to the fact of me taking hundreds of screenshots on how to exit the airport, where to buy my bus ticket, where to stand when waiting for the bus, and miscellaneous things to ease my nerves.
Day 1: Super chill day.
The cold I received from a friend the night before was starting to settle in so I wasn't feeling all that great. I made it to my hostel safe and sound, then went on a search for some Taiwanese noodles. Luckily my hostel was about a 15min walk from Lin Dong Fang Niu Rou Mian, a famous restaurant among locals and even members of BIGBANG have spoken about it. Unfortunately, it was closed due to Chinese New Year’s. So I continued walking the streets till I stumbled upon a local family run restaurant. I walked in, greeted the owners, pointed to a picture, and then waited for my order to be made. I don’t know the exact name of the dish I ordered other than a practical ‘beef noodles’. The dish was nice and cheap. A nice start to my trip in Taipei. I headed back to my hostel, unpacked, showered, and then knocked out for the evening.
Day 2: First Friend
I woke up with a terrible headache and ventured off for some Tylenol. I arrived at a 7-Eleven and came to find that medicine could only be bought at pharmacies. So I googled a pharmacy and dragged my feet there. The pharmacists were able to speak English and I was in and out within 2 minutes *hooray*. After taking a three hour nap, I awaited my Afternoon Tour of Jiufen Village & the Northeastern Coast. At preciously 1pm my tour guide arrived on a small but spacious shuttle bus. I entered the bus introduced myself to the crowd and noticed one other lone traveler. Yay! One other person that I can possibly befriend! We stuck together during the entire tour. Looking out for one another, trying new and interesting foods, and taking Instagram worthy photos. I ended the tour with a new friend who I met again two more times.
Day 3: Action Packed Day
No plans were set for the day so I got out of bed around 12pm. Before arriving in Taipei, a coworker suggested I download the app Couchsurfing. There is a feature that allows to create or enter hangouts with nearby people. All you have to do is make yourself available on the app, set your status to something you’d like to do and wait for others to join your Hangout. I created a hangout to ‘get some food’ and about an hour later I was on my way to eat dim sum with a new male friend named, Alex. Of course you should be cautious of stranger danger but don’t let that overshadow a chance to make new friends. Meet in a public setting and be aware of your surroundings. During my lunch meeting I had the chance to eat some of the cutest and tastiest buns I’ve ever seen or tasted. Alex and I didn’t have much in common but I do not regret meeting him. It took me out of my comfort zone and my hostel for a few hours lol. After my lunch hangout I headed to Taipei 101 formerly known as the world’s tallest structure. It was a bit foggy that afternoon so my pictures didn't turn out too great. Later that evening I met up with SP, the first friend I made and we decided to ‘hike’ Elephant Mountain around 7pm. Witnessing the breath taking night views from Elephant Mountain was definitely the highlight of my Taipei trip. The ‘hike’ took about 20 minutes and there were about three different peeks to stop at. If you ever visit Taipei I highly suggest visiting Elephant Mountain for the sunrise or evening views. The best part is that it’s free!
If you've made it this far I want to say thank you. Give yourself a high-five. This post has become longer than expected and a part 2 detailing my last four days may be posted at another time.
I would like to end by saying, if you want to travel take the plunge and do it! There are plenty of other solo travelers looking to make friends as well. Don’t ever think for a second that you are in this alone. Explore, make friends, eat well, take pics, and enjoy the moment. YOLO, right?
Tell me you experiences while solo traveling?
What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you see? I'd like to know.
If you're an English Teacher in Korea then you probably recognize that song reference.