2011 Taiwan Trip: Taipei Back to Tokyo

April 4, 2011 was our last day in Taipei ending our week long trip to Taiwan. On this day our flight was in the afternoon so we still had the morning to explore a little bit of Taipei before we left.

Takeoff from Taipei's Songshan Airport on a cloudy day with the Taipei 101 building sticking out in the background.


First, in the morning we went to Taipei's Wanhua District (萬華區) which is one of the oldest areas of Taipei. One of the attractions is the Longshan Temple (龍山寺).

The main gate of Longshan Temple. I still don't understand the Taiwanese obsession of adding electronic signs displaying the time and date in traditional architecture like temples...


Inside the temple grounds.








Next, we went to the nearby Huaxi Street Night Market which is a night market known as "Snake Alley" because of the many shops that sell snake blood and meat and other "exotic" delicacies. It has a reputation for being quite seedy as well. We were hoping that at least some of the snake shops would be open in the morning but unfortunately, it seems most of their business is conducted at night so there was nothing for us to see as we got there.


The area around "Snake Alley". Not much happening in the morning.


Afterwards it was time to head to the airport for our flight to Tokyo. Because we booked a hotel and flight package through Rakuten Travel that included transportation from the hotel to the airport, the chartered bus made a forced detour to "Ever Rich Duty Free Shop" before arrival at Taipei's Songshan airport because apparently, this airport does not have a "proper" duty free shop.

We were lucky that our flight tickets were from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Taipei's Songshan Airport, two centrally located airports. It only took us less than 20 minutes to reach the airport from our hotel. Usually people arrive in Taipei at the much farther Taoyuan International Airport.

Songshan Airport is so close that you could see the Taipei 101 building in the background!


However the airport seems to be stuck in the 70s still and the faux traditional Chinese architecture favoured at the time.






The terminal actually evokes the atmosphere of a bygone era in aviation.




In the secure area of the airport.


Getting ready for take off. The airport is located so close to the central area of Taipei.


Lift off.



The next day on April 5, 2011 after our arrival in Tokyo, it was time for my mom to fly back to Vancouver. Instead of taking the cheap train that takes more than 1.5 hours to Narita Airport from Tokyo, we decided to try out the new Keisei Skyliner which had recently opened and connected Tokyo with Narita Airport with a travel time of around 40 minutes. This is also one of Japan's fastest non-Shinkansen trains with a top speed of 160 km/h.


From the window of the train, I could see the Tokyo Sky Tree which was under construction.


Arrival at Narita Airport. After seeing my mom off at the airport, I had to go back to Tokyo to transfer my luggage to another hotel for one more night's stay before heading back to Hiroshima.


On April 6, 2011, on my last day of my lengthly trip to Kansai/Okinawa/Kyushu/Taiwan/Tokyo which started 1 day before the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, I spent the day exploring Tokyo and revisiting places which I had been before.

I visited the Bunkyo Civic Center which I had last visited when I was a short-term exchange student in 2005-2006 to see the changing skyline of Tokyo because I knew there was a free observation deck on the 25th floor. Also what was nice about this building was that it is located right in the centre of Tokyo so you could see the skyline from every direction.

The Tokyo Sky Tree then under construction in the direction looking east.



Towards Ueno Park.


The Sunshine City building in Ikebukuro.


The group of skyscrapers in Shinjuku.


Sakura blooming below.


Afterwards I went to explore the new underground Shibuya station for the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line that had recently opened.

This area was not in use at the time but now the Tokyu Toyoko Line uses these tracks and platforms.


A scale model of the crazily designed underground Shibuya station.


A closer up view of the model.