You've successfully subscribed to ilikecalculus
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to ilikecalculus
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.


. 6 min read

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, my friends and I took a 12-day road trip to Taiwan. I painstakingly documented the adventure and picked some photos that I think best represent of Taiwan.

A local on his moped. Jiufen is a mountainous town that inspired Spirited Away and thus became a tourism hot spot. It's no surprise, since there are great views, a lively market, and charming houses. The roads are so narrow and twisty in certain areas that a large van could barely fit. At one point we got lost and took a one-way road that was too narrow for the van. We eventually got out after some intense driving, but our van sustained some battle scars during a sharp narrow turn. Good thing we had insurance, heh.

An out-of-place foreigner in the bustling streets of Jiufen. There were so many different types of delicious street food to be tried out on this street, with basically every shop owner trying to hustle you.

A short and rare moment when there are no people on the streets...

On our way to the next destination, we discovered an abandoned factory. This was some kind of mineral mining or processing factory that eventually got abandoned due to high levels of toxic materials (I think). I found the location quite strange since it was built on the side of the mountain, next to the sea. On top of having standard assembly halls and meeting spaces, it also had a built-in school. I wish we stayed longer to explore, but the entire compound was too big to explore as a short detour. We saw quite a few of these big abandoned compounds while driving near the coast and in the mountains. Location for those interested: 224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District

This train goes through the small town of Shifen many times an hour. However, despite hordes of tourists crossing on the tracks and setting their paper lanterns, everyone always respectively moved out of the way in time to let the train pass through.

It's interesting that Taiwanese people have no qualms with sitting close to strangers, which is a stark contrast to North American culture. It's probably just because space is a scarcer resource in Taiwan (or Asian countries in general).

An old man tending his stand. Night markets are such a big thing in Taiwan and we basically went to a night market every day, stuffing our stomach with street food. I wish these markets existed in the west. Where I live, most places are closed by 10 pm. I guess these food stands probably wouldn't pass health and safety standards anyways...

The beautiful Taroko Gorge. In our short time here, we ended up trespassing and hiking to an abandoned hot spring. Originally it was a popular public hot spring, but one year, it got destroyed by heavy rainfall. Now, it's deemed a safety hazard and there's a noticeable effort in blocking it off. Fortunately, it's still relatively accessible for the determined. Unfortunately, as a result, it's going through demolition to completely stop people from going. The hot spring was insanely hot, too hot for me.

I love the texture of the fishing net when it's spread out in the boat. I found it mind blowing how chaotic and disorganized the fisherman's boat was. It's like, how do you even use figure out which rope is which when they're all on the ground? I guess that must be how the average person perceives my code when they see it. But, my code is perfect and I would bet the fisherman would say the same about his boat :p

We took a detour to a fishing village just to get lunch at Ah Hong's Fish Shop (阿宏的魚店) since my friend said the restaurant is highly rated. It was relatively empty when we arrived and only operated by Ah Hong and a grandma. We told Ah Hong to surprise us. They impressed us with his excellent cooking skills and fresh seafood, all for a bargain. I had a short conversion with him later and found out he was actually from my hometown in China. He told me his family left (escaped might be a better term) to Taiwan during the turbulent years of post-WWII Chinese Civil War. He said to me jokingly in Chinese, "we both ran away from mainland, you to Canada and me to Taiwan". 

Would suck to live on the bottom floors, you'd get no sunlight...

Kids peaking under the Christmas tree. Just kidding, they're not kids, but the Christmas tree sure makes them seem like kids. This is the Chi Mei Museum, founded by the CEO of the Chi Mei corporation. It's the same company that makes many Asian snacks that you find at Asian supermarkets. Of course, they make a bunch of other stuff - it would be pretty funny that an Asian snack company owns such a large museum. From afar, this museum looks exactly like the White House.

I love this, it's just so Taiwan. Moped, woven basket, and a small cute dog in clothes.

Have you seen a more hype monk? Could you even tell he's a monk? I found this group of monks visiting the National Palace Museum of Taiwan. This museum was established after the expulsion of the last emperor of China in the early 1900s. Near the start of the Chinese Civil War, the Kuomintang migrated many historical artifacts to Taiwan into this museum in fear that they'll get destroyed throughout the war. It features many artifacts from the imperial collection. I can't tell if that woman's disgusted at me taking a photo of a monk taking a selfie, or that a monk looks so hype and non-traditional.

Shot at one of the last night markets we visited. Since there are usually no tables at night markets, everyone just ends up sitting around some public space, such as this temple, to eat. It's both sad and funny that the two foreigners seem the most isolated from the rest of the people.

In western societies, all apartments look the same in the same building. However, it's interesting that in Taiwan (and many parts of China) people renovate their balcony however they want, and attach additional fixtures such as air conditioner. As a result, we have this chaotically augmented building.

A man making an honest living. I really admire how hard working some Asians are - they'll make ends meet, even if it means picking up garbage or recyclables.

On the last night, I explored aimlessly to find interesting things to photograph and ended up on an entire street full of specialty shops. There were many shops such as thread shops, chair shops, mirror shops, but the mannequin shop interested me the most. I don't know why, but it just felt strange and creepy to see a shop full of disorganized and naked mannequins.

Last shot of Taiwan - an overpass ramp for mopeds only. Every minute when the traffic light turns green, the roaring sound of hundreds of mopeds swamp this ramp. It's both chaotic and organized, reminding me of swarms of insects. It was spectacular to watch. And after that, I went home.