Spent the day today in Tainan, the old ancient city located on the west coast of Taiwan.
I am writing this from the Guang Hwa Hotel TEL; 263171-5 located 2 minutes from Tainan Main Train Station.
Tainan is a short, NT$69 semi-express train ride from Kaohsiung in which I spent 1.5 days, with trains running every 30 minutes or so. Please check the website The Man in Seat 61 located at http://www.seat61.com for all his great info on travelling not only in Taiwan, but train travel around the world.
I arrived in Tainan around 2:30pm.
Located directly outside the train station is the Tainan Visitor Centre with eager to help staff that answered my question:
What does Tainan have that is famous?
Oh, you must try to eat shrimp rolls, and have pearl tea, and walk around the Anping area!
The staff then pointed to a bus stop located directly across the street, and to take the free tourist bus #88 or #99 and have a ride around. Taking bus #99 gets you to the Anping Fort area in about 30 minutes where #88 gets you there in an hour.
I opted for bus #99, ate the shrimp rolls, drank pearl tea and walked around the Anping Area.
This is all after being guided by a lady from Hong Kong whom I met on the bus. She spends her time divided between Hong Kong and Tainan for family and her husband. Friendly lady – and the best part is she legally added her nickname, Kitty to her passport for ease of introducing herself to foreigners! Wow.
It gets better.
I love Taiwan.
I love the Taiwanese.
After riding back to the station, I needed to find a cheap hotel. After earlier searching for hotels via a net cafe in the Anping area and making some calls on Kitty’s cell phone, nothing was found.
My stomach growled and I needed some food. It was nearly 8pm and no dinner since the snack sized shrimp rolls and tea at 4pm.
I walked a block or two down the main street only to find all girls shops selling trendy fashion finds imported from the back streets of Harajuku.
Then the light shined bright at a big red sign above a restaurant which my mind translated as “safe, house.” Inside I look at the menu and find “beef noodle” and order some.
I sit down, and even before I start slurping away at my hot bowl of noodles, a man across the restaurant in casual business attire and glasses speaks up and starts talking to me in English. He is not afraid and has confidence with English he mentions. The conversation grows and I offer to sit at his table. We continue to talk and I tell him my search for a hotel has been fruitless.
He then says these words:
“It is now my obligation to help you out.”
I asked him “Why?” to which he replied:
“Because, you are a foreigner.”
Wow, I am liking this guy and then he paid for my noodles!
He introduces me to a hotel, the Guang Hwa Hotel, bargains the price down to NT$500 for the night.
He then helps me buy my bus ticket to Taipei, compliments me on my courage for some reason and parts on his way.
Taiwan, just like the slogan branding all the tourism signage; You touch my heart.
Off to Taipei in the morning, then back to Tokyo tomorrow night.